Everton vs QPR

, 3 January, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
FA Cup 3rd Round Preview

Everton take a breather from the intensity of their push for a top-four finish with an FA Cup Third Round tie against Queens Park Rangers at Goodison Park.

Having won the competition with Wigan Athletic last May — knocking the Blues out in stunning fashion at the Quarter Final stage along the way, of course — Roberto Martinez begins his quest to win the world's oldest knockout competition in back-to-back seasons.

His Everton squad came through the busy Festive season with seven points from 12 but also picked up some more injury problems along the way. Phil Jagielka was ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury after the defeat to Sunderland and Sylvain Distin picked up a similar, albeit less severe, muscle strain in the win over Southampton.

Martinez confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the Frenchman will be missing again this weekend which will mean a continuation of the defensive partnership between Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones that was so impressive against Stoke City on Wednesday.

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And the manager suggested that there might be other changes to his line-up, saying that, "We have a strong group and everyone is ready to represent Everton. Making changes doesn't mean we will be weakened."

That opens up possibilities for the likes of Joel Robles, Steven Naismith, Bryan Oviedo and, potentially, Nikica Jelavic for starting berths, although the Croatian is a potential target for interested buyers this month and, like John Heitinga, may not be risked for that reason. Martinez appears to be working on the assumption that Jelavic will be staying unless a decent offer comes in so he could be a good bet to play this weekend.

Though Martinez's teams have defied conventional logic and performed well when he has made a slew of changes — although, the obviousy aberration on that score was the League Cup defeat at Fulham — he will be wary of the potential for a slip in the FA Cup against a lower-division side playing without anything to lose.

Harry Redknapp's QPR are currently third in the Championship and bidding to return to the top-flight after being relegated last season and they still boast a number of experienced players who could cause the Blues problems, including ex-Everton striker, Andy Johnson, Yossi Benayoun, Beniot Assou-Ekotto, Junior Hoilett, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Niko Krancjar. A repeat of last season's 2-0 win for the Blues in the Premier League — albeit secured thanks to goals by Darron Gibson and Victor Anichebe, neither of whom will be playing this time — would do Martinez nicely, though.

A home draw against a lower-division side is all you can ask for in the Third Round but the job is still there to be done. A professional display will be required to book passage to the next phase and to keep the momentum rolling on the League front.

Kick off: 3pm

Quotes or other material sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports

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