Saturday 12th March. 5:30PM. BBC One
FA Cup quarter-final weekend has arrived and Saturday’s action serves up a mouth-watering prospect as Everton host Chelsea in what should be a thrilling battle at Goodison Park.
With just 90 minutes separating the two sides from a place at Wembley, both Roberto Martinez and Guus Hiddink will be eager to win Saturday’s showdown. You can watch the action live on BBC One, and we’ll be hoping to help you win some money by betting on the action too.
We do love the magic of the cup.
Lukaku To Fire Toffees To Sweet Success?
Oh, how Chelsea fans would’ve loved to have Romelu Lukaku back at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. As the Blues exited the Champions League, they could have really benefited from having a powerhouse striker with an eye for goal. Instead, the big Belgian will now be looking to compound their misery by coming back to haunt his former club.
The 22-year-old boast 23 goals in all competitions and has easily been one of the Premier League’s best strikers. If he can bring that form into this cup quarter-final, then there’s every chance that he will terrorise a defence that could still be without captain John Terry. Everton have been very frequent scorers, and that attacking mentality could serve them well against the wounded champions.
Defensive vulnerabilities are a concern for Martinez, but this is a game where John Stones and Leighton Baines could step up to answer the call. If they do, the creativity of Ross Barkley and co should create chances for Lukaku to thrive.
Everton won’t want a replay, which should encourage them to adopt an attacking philosophy. That could be great news for the spectacle.
Can Chelsea Salvage Season?
Wednesday Champions League exit was just the latest disappointment in what has been a terrible campaign at Stamford Bridge. Winning the FA Cup is now their only shot at silverware, and it could be their only chance to qualify for European football in any form next season too. Hiddink has no option but to take it seriously.
Despite losing both legs to PSG, Chelsea’s domestic form has been impressive since Hiddink rejoined as interim manager. Meanwhile, the Dutchman has fond memories of leading the Blues to this trophy during his previous stint with the club. Winning it again would at least give their fans something to celebrate in an otherwise awful campaign.
The recent revival of Diego Costa has been a plus point, so his midweek injury will be particularly worrying. However, the champions still have plenty of quality stars; now is the time for them to stand up and be counted.
If Chelsea play like they did against a weakened Manchester City in round five, they should be just fine. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. It’s hard to predict the outcome, which is why it should be such a crucial battle. Bring it on.
Everton v Chelsea
There is a real sense that anything could happen during Saturday’s showdown, and those feelings are underlined by the betting odds. With home advantage on their side, Everton are the marginal favourites. However, odds of 13/8 at Bet365 underline that it won’t be easy. Meanwhile, Chelsea are 9/5 and the draw is 5/2.
In truth, the entire season will probably come down to this competition for both sides, and it might be a case of who wants it more. In brutal honesty, Chelsea haven’t looked up for it this season, and there is a real chance that Wednesday’s loss may have knocked the stuffing out of them.
It would be foolish to rule them out, but the absence of big personalities could be key. Meanwhile, the Toffees will be eager to make amends after narrowly missing out on Wembley in the Capital One Cup. We’re sticking our neck out and backing a home win.
If the Toffees are to book their place in the final, it seems inevitable that Lukaku will be the man to fire them there. Not only is he their star man, but he is also everything that Chelsea are missing.
With Betfred offering this game on the Double Delight/Hat-Trick Heaven, we can’t resist the Belgian.