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Just a month away...

By Jack Kemp :  18/03/2009 :  Comments (0) :
The FA Cup semi-final is a month away but the excitement is already reaching uncontrollable levels in my house and I believe this is an experience mirrored by other Evertonians.

Last year my father, brother and I attended both legs of the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Now I know the two ties are very different as the League Cup is contested over two legs, however I just hope we have learnt from that experience. I remember when Wright-Phillips scored that late header and I overheard an Evertonian say, ‘that goal has knocked us out’. In a game where we were poor for the first 45 minutes, we almost nicked a win (remember the McFadden chance when he should have pulled it back to Cahill).

At Stamford Bridge we were bereft of several players, I seem to remember Phil Neville playing right midfield, and in the current situation we go into arguably our biggest game of the season without key players.

However, this semi-final is played over 90 minutes... possibly 120 — but not 180. Moyes has worked miracles with the players in grinding out crucial victories and I believe Everton can beat Man United on the 19th April. Of course United go in as overwhelming favourites but that suits me down to the ground: no pressure, no expectation, great hallmarks of an underdog.

Now I might be shot down with what I’m about to say but, as Liverpool and Inter Milan showed, this United team does have weaknesses although the media would like us to think they haven’t. The defence, impregnable for much of the season, now looks shaky (Evra in particular) and all the talk about the quintuple must eventually get to the players... Fergie has publicly said that the Champions League is the one he wants. Is there a chance that he may rest a couple of the superstars if United are entangled in a Champions League quarter-final showdown?

Over the past few years we have really contested our matches with United:

  • Season 08-09 Everton 1-1 United; United 1-0 Everton (debateable penalty)
  • Season 07-08 Everton 0-1 United (late goal by Vidic); United 2-1 Everton (debateable penalty)
  • Season 06-07 Everton 2-4 United; United 3-0 Everton
  • All but the 3-0 defeat have been close games. This year, the game at Goodison provided us with what I believe was our turning point. There was a spell in the second half when United looked shaky and not particularly up for a battle, something we have to do on the 19 April. If we battle, compete and win our tackles then we can rattle them.

    Too many teams roll over against United, something I can quite safely say we will not do led by our captain. I’m quietly confident that the United back four will not relish coming up against Saha, Cahill and Fellaini. In those three players we have real potential to cause United problems. Including Lescott in the equation, then if our set pieces are on the money maybe this will be our best avenue for scoring goals. I just hope Everton can do themselves proud on the 19 April and not come off the pitch thinking what if? If United perform like they did in the League Cup Final then we can win this match!

    I realise United are the best at bouncing back from poor performances but le'ts just remember we are Everton and our team spirit is unmatched by any club. COYB

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