Yep, easy away win, this.
So ends this preview.
…Yeah, right. Not only is it notoriously hard to shut me up, it’s also impossible to have a week when there’s no Everton to think about. Like in late May when you’re scribbling in every box of your calendar how many days are left until Everton grace that Goodison turf again. No, just me? Alright then.
League form has been a tad inconsistent in recent times, although looking at the last six Premier League games our form reads WLWDWD. Hardly the stuff of nightmares, but at some point we will have to win back-to-back games. So Stevenage can roll over first, and then the red sh*te are the next in line. Plays out like one of those jarg “thriller” films where you know there’s gonna be some horror amidst the uncertainty but you don’t know where. Even tougher to know nowadays when you can’t just point to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov or Per Kroldrup.
What better time, then, to delve straight back into the FA Cup? The media is as predictable as a Leon Osman pass and twice as inaccurate nowadays, so amidst the annual interview with someone from Bournemouth, Wrexham or Sutton United there’s a snide reference to Shrewsbury as we prepare to travel to a side used to causing shocks. Mostly because every team they play is streets ahead of them. Stevenage can beat Newcastle at home, which is about as impressive as winning a three-legged race tied to Gerard Deulofeu. Yeah, congrats lids.
But Stevo boss Graham Westley is adamant that Everton are gonna be as miserable as Preston were when they travelled to Hertfordshire, and he was the Preston boss. In fact, any Blue crossing that line between Buckinghamshire and that no-man’s land is gonna feel a bit down. Goes with the territory. The only table this lot top concerns teen pregnancies. But Westley’s got a master plan, eh? A way to outplay us, perhaps? Aye, he’s banking on the pitch being sh*te and us not quite being arsed so they can put one in the air and grab a goal. So he’s not banking on much.
Roberto’s taking the p*ss a bit too, calling them “favourites”. I’m not sure if it’s courtesy or he’s trying to drive up the odds for us, but it’s a bit of a giggle. West Brom on Monday was a pain. The pitch looked like they’d let Luis Suarez do some “Spanish penalty-winning” practice on there for a few hours and Pepe Mel pulled off the miracle that is making Brummies look arsed about something. What it boils down to is that we were lethargic and perhaps should’ve been concentrating on both the game and not putting feet in mouths in interviews. Quenelle, Romelu.
But, poor performance aside, the big issue is squad depth. It’d be nice to field a different XI to the one that played on Monday, especially if that side didn’t have Magaye Gueye in it. But some players will have to do a shift today and in the derby. Joel Robles fills up the goal, while Bryan Oviedo will do that left back thing he does, as well as that left wing, right wing and attacking midfielder thing he also does in his spare time. Tony Hibbert might get a game as there won’t be much running to do, and there will be plenty of crunching tackles. Darius Charles has only just woken up from when Hibbo sorted him out in August, so there’s a nice reunion to be had. Stones will most likely partner Jags in the middle.
Leon Osman’s a cert – ey, stop that moaning – and with no Ross Barkley he’ll sit behind the centre forward with Barry and McCarthy bossing things in the middle. Heitinga? Still here, is he? Suppose we could inflict him on, well, us. Steven Naismith may be good for a run-out, as he tries to stake his claim for all games against League One opposition, while Aiden McGeady could be handed a start. Unlikely though. Pienaar and Mirallas can at least look menacing from the bench. Romelu Lukaku will be up against players with similar physicality but less pace and skill, which he really needs to exploit. Seeing as that lanky streak o’ p*ss Lacina Traore is about, it’s definite that we’ll always have a-loan striker. Ahaha. Apologies.
If you’re still reading, cheers. Stevenage are a side that even Tranmere Rovers fancy beating – before f*cking it up – so the mighty Everloan shouldn’t be quaking at any particular player. What’s more, our downright shocker of a League Cup tie earlier this season, punctuated by Gerard Deulofeu and Marouane Fellaini remembering how to play football for a few choice moments, has actually given them hope of an upset in this tournament. Whatever. Enjoy your day, ladies and gents. Watch some real entertainment as you gorge on your overpriced cheese-chip disaster zone.
Luke Freeman, he of the “I was at Arsenal in the Invincibles year, cleaning blood off Vieira’s boots” camp, has a bit of pace to burn. Meanwhile, Francois Zoko is a bit of a presence. But I can’t help feeling very happy for this lot. Not only will they see top flight-quality players and Steven Naismith gracing their turf/mud, but the money they make from making it this far and having gullible TV companies coming down to see what would be a corker of an upset if it could actually happen allows them to hand out new contracts to star players and possibly even dip into the transfer window for more than an emergency loan. Oh, how we envy them.
There’s so much up for grabs at the moment: fourth place, the FA Cup. So all I can really say is, go ‘ed Everton. Teach this lot a lesson, eh?