It would be fair to say that it’s getting to the do-or-die stage of the season for both of these clubs, with Everton gradually slipping out of the European reckoning while Cardiff are battling to claw themselves out of the drop zone. With that, there is plenty of pressure on both managers ahead of this clash at Goodison Park.
In the early portions of the campaign there were suspicions that Everton could perhaps even launch a bid for the title, with Roberto Martinez’s work with the Toffees propelling them straight into the championship mix. Unfortunately, the wheels have come off somewhat over the last few months and with the club now sat in 7th spot, they have it all to do if they have any intention of qualifying for the Europa League. At one point few clubs in Europe had lost fewer games than Everton, but now the Toffees approach this game having suffered defeat in three of their last five games. However, these losses have come against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, meaning that it will be interesting to see how the club fare now they are up against a side who occupy a much lower league position.
Cardiff on the other hand looked down and out several weeks ago, although the Bluebirds’ latest result has really restored some confidence to all concerned. The Welsh outfit comfortably beat Fulham in 3-1 fashion and that means that it’s only goal difference which keeps the club in the bottom three for the time being. All looked lost after they suffered a 4-0 thrashing to Hull, but after only narrowly losing out to Tottenham and overcoming Fulham there are suggestions that Cardiff might pull off the unthinkable and exit the drop zone very soon.
Everton could potentially approach this game with some bad news, with the Toffees rating defender Phil Jagielka as touch-and-go as he struggles with a hamstring injury. It gets worse for the home side further up the field as well, with Steven Pienaar also poised for a late fitness test after being forced off in the club’s last game. However, Everton are not alone with their problems and Cardiff might have to be without Ben Turner who is struggling with a knock picked up in their most recent outing. There might be better news in relation to Juan Cala though, after he recovered from a stomach bug.
Cardiff showed for the first time in weeks that they might have what it takes to avoid the drop in their last game. However, the Bluebirds are up against an Everton outfit who have prided themselves on professional performances over the course of the season and armed with the home advantage, our tip will be a 2-1 victory for Roberto Martinez’s side.