Cup match against Chelsea will be tough – but it is winnable
Yesterday evening’s Emirates FA Cup quarter-final draw was not exactly kind to Everton.
On any other occasion, a home tie against Chelsea could be viewed as one that the Toffees can win.
But, under Guus Hiddink, the Londoners are showing their quality in much the same vein as when the Dutchman was in charge in 2009.
It was Hiddink’s Chelsea that broke Evertonian hearts in that year’s FA Cup final, albeit with almost entirely different personnel.
Add in the fact that Everton are notably struggling at home – six home defeats in the league will attest to that – and you would be forgiven for thinking that the tie sees the reigning Premier League Champions as favourites to progress.
However, despite what was said on Match of the Day last night, Hiddink might not want to get his Wembley suit measured just yet.
Both league encounters this season have proved that Everton can match their opponents.
Scoring six times in those two meetings shows that Chelsea’s rearguard is not the sturdy force it once was, and the Toffees’ lightning quick attack can make easy work of a ponderous looking backline.
Add in being backed by a no doubt vociferous Goodison crowd, as well as the opportunity of being just 90 minutes away from another Wembley trip, Everton are more than capable of overcoming Chelsea.
There is no denying the clash with be a tough test – but it is one that Everton can pass.
Potential Howard departure should not detract from decade-long service
“I will always be very, very grateful and every fan should know what Tim Howard has been doing behind the scenes and when he is on the pitch.”
Manager Roberto Martinez’s choice of words after Everton’s 2-0 victory over Bournemouth could be viewed as more positive spin for a player who has been largely out of form all season.
There’s no denying, however that the Spaniard’s answer was tinged with a certain inevitability about it.
Howard, who has been on Everton’s permanent books for almost a decade, has been rumoured to be departing Merseyside to head back stateside at the end of the season.
But, despite a remarkably quick souring of his relationship with Evertonians alongside a notable dip in form, the American should still be given a rousing send off come the season’s end if his future lies away from Goodison Park.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper has never been viewed as world class – there have been mistakes during matches that will put paid to that.
Howard, though, has remained loyal to the Club who gave him a way out of Manchester United, and his affection for Everton is evident in the way he speaks about his second home.
Understudy Joel Robles, who has conceded just one goal in five matches during Howard’s time of the sidelines with a knee injury, deserves to continue his run in goal for the Toffees, that much is certain.
What has gone before, too, does not matter to many – it is the here and now that people, not just football fans, remember more often than not.
But, after over 400 appearances for Everton and 132 clean sheets, it is Howard’s service and dedication that ought to be remembered.