AFC Bournemouth host Everton at Dean Court on Saturday afternoon, the first of the FA Cup’s all-Premier League fifth round clashes this weekend.
If their previous meeting is anything to go by; the ‘magic’ of the cup shall certainly be on display on the south coast after both English top-flight sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw back in November, with goals from Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas (2) inspiring the Cherries to complete a last-gasp comeback against the Toffees.
In fact; there have been 18 goals scored in the four meetings between the two teams.
The newly promoted hosts have battled past Championship side Birmingham City and League Two outfit Portsmouth in the third and fourth round respectively, winning both by just one-goal margins in 2-1 victories.
Meanwhile Roberto Martinez’s visitors have eased into the fifth stage of the FA Cup with minimal fuss after comfortable wins over League Two sides Dagenham and Carlisle United.
However both clubs are looking to bounce back from disappointing Premier League defeats last weekend, with Bournemouth succumbing to Stoke City (1-3) and Everton to West Brom (0-1) at Goodison Park.
Although it is the Cherries who hover perilously closer to the bottom reaches of the standings, sitting in 15th spot, just four points above the bottom three, as they look to preserve their status as a top-flight outfit for a second successive season.
But if the defending Championship champions are to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup, then Eddie Howe’s side will have to pull out a rare successful performance in front of their own fans, as Bournemouth currently have the second-worst home record in the top division so far this campaign.
Looking to avenge their surprise 1-0 home defeat to the Baggies last Saturday, visiting boss Martinez would love to send the Everton supporters home happy after bringing his side so close to reaching the League Cup final earlier this month, only to lose out to Manchester City.
The Toffee’s possess a striker bang in-form this term in Belgium international Romelu Lukaku. who has scored in each of his three FA Cup appearances. He also netted against Bournemouth in the Premier League during that entertaining encounter back in November.
Everton have lost just one of their last 12 FA Cup fixtures away from home and have failed to find the back of the net in one of their last 13 outings on the road in all competitions, including 10 goals in their last four away trips.
Far less encouraging for the hosts, Bournemouth haven’t beaten an English top-flight outfit in this competition since 1984 and have won just three of 32 matches against clubs from the top flight (W3 D7 L22).
Cherries boss Howe told the press that he will leave his selection for this fifth round FA Cup tie “as a surprise”.
He has no fresh injury worries or suspended players to miss, although long-term absentees Max Gradel, Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilson (all knee) are still a long way off returning to the first-team frame.
Forwards Josh King, Juan Iturbe and Lewis Grabban are all hopeful of starting at Dean Court.
Meanwhile opposing boss Martinez can welcome back England international John Stones after the defender has seemingly recovered from his hamstring injury which has kept him out since the end of last month.
January addition Oumar Niasse is unlikely to make his Toffees debut as he is still recovering from minor wrist surgery, whilst the game will also come too soon for midfielder Muhamed Besic (Hamstring).
Joel Robles is likely to continue in goal having conceded just once in his last four appearances. Defenders Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning remain long-term absentees with knee injuries.
League Position: Bournemouth – 15th (28pts); Everton – 11th (35pts)
Previous Meeting: Bournemouth 3-3 Everton – November 28, 2015
Form: Bournemouth – WDWWLL; Everton – LLWWWL
Key Men: Bournemouth – Benik Afobe; Everton – Ross Barkley
Shoot Says: Bournemouth 2-2 Everton