When you consider the fact that Stevenage are rock bottom of League One and Everton are riding high in the top flight, one really shouldn’t be surprised to see that this clash is to be televised. Another factor that most probably swung it is Stevenage’s impeccable record in the FA Cup over the last few years and having beaten several other high-profile opponents, the broadcasters will be hoping that Boro pull something similar out of the hat this weekend.
Graham Westley has been the man in charge for many of these famous victories, even though he had a brief absence as he took over at Preston for a short spell. Now in his second stint at Broadhall Way, Westley will be looking to the FA Cup for a rare spark of life following an absolutely dreadful campaign. Boro now find themselves sat bottom of League One and while they may only be four points adrift of safety, the fact they have been battling down there for the whole campaign suggests it could be one long slog. On a more positive note, they did knock Doncaster out of the last round of the competition and Westley will be hoping for another upset, albeit on an even grander scale, this weekend.
Everton on the other hand are approaching this tie on the back of some surprising words from their manager. Despite the gulf between both sides, Roberto Martinez claims that the Toffees are the underdogs due to the culture of the FA Cup. Whether or not that will be the case remains to be seen, although as long as Everton perform like they have been doing through recent weeks there shouldn’t be any problems whatsoever. The Goodison Park outfit have lost just once since the start of October and even though they have lost their grasp on the top flight top four, they still have every chance of claiming one of those illusive Champions League places with just one point keeping them adrift.
As for team news, Stevenage will not be able to rely on the services of Filipe Morais as he struggles with a dead leg. It might get worse for Boro in other areas of the field as well, with Dean Parrett struggling with a knee problem. However, the home side’s concerns are nothing when compared to Everton’s, with the Toffees having several absentees. Seamus Coleman is the latest to an injury list that already included Steven Pienaar, Gerard Deulofeu, Darron Gibson, Arouna Kone, Ross Barkley and Antolin Alcaraz.
In terms of a prediction, we just can’t see Stevenage causing another scalp. Graham Westley might talk the talk, Roberto Martinez might have revealed his worries – but on paper there is a massive gulf in class. It will be no means a simple game for the Toffees, but our tip is a 2-1 victory for them.