After the FA Cup semi-final draw last Monday it was confirmed on Friday that Everton will face either Manchester United or West Ham at Wembley on Saturday April 23 at 5:15 pm.
Despite four Premier League clubs being guaranteed a place in the semi-final, many bookies have tipped Everton to go on to win the cup. However, this is clearly easier said than done.
Whoever the Toffees’ face, it will be a tough match. Given Manchester United’s form over the past few seasons, I think that they will struggle on the big stage and therefore West Ham seem the more daunting of the two options. The Hammers do have an away goal to their name so should be able to secure the win over the Red Devils.
The idea of Everton having to face West Ham at Wembley will provide many Evertonians with fear. It was only a couple weeks ago when Slaven Bilić’s side rolled up to Goodison Park to net three goals in 12 minutes and overturn a 2-0 deficit. Everton capitulated embarrassingly and left fans tearing their hair out. If the Iron do defeat Manchester United then, I believe, Roberto Martinez’s men are going have to perform even better than they did against Chelsea to make it to the final.
Despite losing to Manchester United 3-0 earlier this season I firmly believe that Everton have the ability to emerge victorious over Louis van Gaal’s men. Martinez’s classy style of passing should open up the Red Devils and their inconsistent attacking force is toothless in comparison to West Ham’s in-form duo of Dimitri Payet and Michail Antonio. In fact, on April 3, three weeks before the elusive trip to Wembley, the Toffees will travel to Old Trafford in the Premier League. That will be a good tester to see how the sides square up.
There has also been uproar on social media over the fact that Everton’s cup-tie will take place on the Saturday of that weekend. Martinez’s side will have less than 72 hours to prepare for the semi-final after the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night. Two high-pressure fixtures, back-to-back, in such a short space of time gives the Toffees’ opponents a major advantage. As far as I can see, we may have to accept fielding a weaker side at Anfield and risk losing bragging rights over the bitter rivals. The semi-final is, in my opinion, the club’s most important match since the semi-final of 2012, and therefore must take precedence.
Furthermore, there will be problems for travelling fans. The Liverpool Echo has researched travel options and revealed that, at the time of analysis, the only viable trains back to Lime Street from London Euston would leave at 20:11 or 20:31 and should the match go to extra-time and penalties, it will be hard for fans to make either of those. Added to this is the fact that the London Marathon is the day after, making finding hotel rooms all the more competitive.
Overall, the tie is not as appealing as first thought. West Ham could overturn Manchester United and the Hammers will be buoyed from running rampant at Everton earlier this month. Added to this, the Toffees will also have to cope with two fixtures in four days. For the fans, it also looks to be a logistical nightmare. There is a lot to do, but with the Evertonians’ brilliant support, there is no doubt that they can do it!