Everton manager, David Moyes, will look back at Saturday’s game with Swansea City at Goodison Park and believe his side missed a glorious opportunity to win three vital points in their battle for a top 4 position in the English Premier League.
His side have enjoyed an excellent run of results recently, barring a spirited home defeat to Chelsea, and with home advantage would have fancied their chances of recording a fourth success from their last five fixtures.
However, Swansea City are nobody’s pushovers, as Chelsea found out to their cost in last week’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. Michael Laudrup is thoroughly enjoying his first season in English football with the Swans and has struck a fine balance between attacking prowess and defensive solidity with his fine tactical decision making, and the encounter with the Toffees was a prime example of his astute management.
There were no real surprises from either side regarding team selection. Everton were fully furnished with all but Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas available, while Swansea continued with the excellent Michu in an advanced role.
The announcement by Turkish club, Galatasaray, that they had opened talks with representatives of Inter Milan star, Wesley Sneijder, confirm that the Dutch international will definitely be one of, if not the biggest name to be changing employers in the January transfer window.
A move has long been on the cards for Sneijder, whose apparent unhappiness at the San Siro has been escalating since the heady days under Jose Mourinho.
With many of Europe’s stellar names circling around the midfield maestro, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the first club to hold discussions with the player is the Istanbul based giants.
Sneijder, 28, who has played for Ajax and Real Madrid previously, has been consistently linked with a move to the English Premier League, with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believed to be a long term admirer.
Throw into the mix moneybags Manchester City and the ambitious Tottenham Hotspur and it would seem very likely that Sneijder would be packing his bags for a move to European football’s highest spending league.
The last game of the English FA Cup 3rd round weekend takes place this evening at the home of League 2 side, Cheltenham Town, as Premier League high-flyers Everton roll into the Whaddon Road stadium trying to avoid what would be the biggest shock of the round.
David Moyes, currently 2 months short of his eleventh anniversary in charge at Goodison Park, is desperate to add some silverware to augment his reputation as one of the best managers in English football, and the FA Cup provides his best opportunity to fill that gap in his CV.
Finalists in 2009 and semi-finalists last year, Everton will be hoping to get this season’s tilt at Wembley glory off to a good start by dispatching the difficult challenge of a visit to a lower league club intent on inflicting humiliation on one the country’s leading clubs.
The English F.A. Cup, football’s oldest knockout competition, reaches the third round stage when the giants of the game enter the fray.
Supporters, managers and players of the clubs from the lower divisions still remaining in the draw get to pit their wits against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, while there are many potential banana skins for other teams from England’s top two leagues to successfully negotiate.
This is the weekend of the season for footballing romantics everywhere as they watch hopefully and expectantly for one or two giant-killing feats from the minnows.
It is also a weekend where those who like to take on the bookmakers attempt to find where the shocks might occur and roll the dice at spectacular odds. For those people and for anyone anticipating the favourites coming to grief, here are five potential Cup upsets:
Brighton to beat Newcastle United
Alan Pardew and David Moyes hope to start 2013 in better fashion than which they ended 2012 as Newcastle United host Everton at St.James’ Park.
The corresponding game last season came at a time when United were trading blows with the top clubs and Everton were suffering in the lower reaches of the league table. Fast forward just over a year and the roles are reversed as the Toffees are the ones slugging it out in the top 6 while the Magpies struggle at the wrong end of things.
When the two clubs met back in September at Goodison Park, a thrilling encounter ended with honours even after a 2-2 draw. Moyes side, having tormented Newcastle for the opening half, were unable to finish them off and Pardew’s half time team talk galvanised his side to earn themselves an unlikely point.
Newcastle’s record against Everton at St.James’ is good, having only lost there once in the last 10 years, but they go into this one with a lengthy injury list, a defence shipping goals all over the place and a set of players who looked dead on their feet at the end of the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal.