There’s a break in Premier League action this week as the FA Cup 5th Round takes centre stage. Everton host Swansea City at Goodison Park with the winners earning themselves a place in the quarter finals of the world’s oldest cup competition.
Everton have been going well in the FA Cup so far this season. The Toffees have beaten both QPR and Stevenage 4-0 on their way to the 5th round. Roberto Martinez masterminded Wigan’s cup success last season, and he has taken the competition just as serious this year with Everton. Swansea have taken the scalp of Manchester United, beating them 2-1 in the 3rd round. They had the same result against Birmingham in the 4th round, and the Swans are in the hunt for domestic honours again after their success in the League Cup last season.
Everton’s injury list is mainly filled with long term injuries. Darron Gibson (Knee), Arouna Kone (Knee) and Brian Oviedo (Broken Leg) are out for the rest of the season. Romelu Lukaku (Ankle) and Antolin Alcaraz (Muscle Fatigue) are out until March at the earliest. Lacina Traore could make his Everton debut at some stage in the game. Swansea have a very small injury list at the moment. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey should be fit enough to return to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury. Talismanic forward Michu is still out with an ankle injury, but should be fit enough to return for next week’s Premier League fixture.
The two teams have only met 18 times in their history. Of these fixtures, only one has been in the FA Cup. The game was played in January 1954 and Everton were 3-0 winners on the day. It has therefore been over 50 years since the two teams have met in the FA Cup. Everton are unbeaten against Swansea in all competitions. They have won 13 of their 18 games against the Swans and drawn five. Swansea have only scored one goal in their last five games against Everton, which was actually an own goal by Brian Oviedo. In that time they have conceded eight goals. Everton have had eight different goal scorers for all of these eight goals.
Kevin Mirallas has had a good season so far for the Toffees. The Belgian forward has scored five goals so far this season, which is one less than his total of league goals last season. He has also contributed five assists, which is three more than he did in the whole of last season. These stats show the growing influence that he has had in this Everton team since the arrival of Roberto Martinez. Mirallas’ versatility is another reason why he has been important this season. He is able to operate in any position behind the main striker or as the main front man. With Romelu Lukaku currently injured and new signing Lacina Traore still not match fit, Mirallas will most likely be tasked of leading the line. With a previous goal against Swansea under his belt, Mirallas will feel confident that he can get on the score sheet again.
Wayne Routledge has become an important part of the Swansea team since arriving in 2011. The wide man had previously never managed to settle at one club, but has established himself at the South Wales club. In a Swansea team that has been struggling this season, Routledge has managed 7 assists in all competitions. This included the assist for Wilfried Bony’s winner at Old Trafford, a game which Routledge also scored in. Routledge has been in good form in recent weeks and also managed to score his first Premier League goal of the season in the South Wales derby against Cardiff. Routledge has scored five goals in all competitions, just one of his total of six last season. With faith in him from new manager Garry Monk, Routledge could have a strong end to the season.
Everton had a break in midweek as their game against Crystal Palace was called off due to the adverse weather. They will go into the game slightly fresher than Garry Monk’s men. Despite this, Swansea are still riding high from their new coaches’ appointment. After an excellent derby win and a good draw away to Stoke in midweek, they will take added confidence into the fixture. I still believe that Everton may be too strong for them and I predict a 2-0 Everton win.