Monday, February 28, 2011

Everton v Reading FA Cup fifth round preview

These clubs have very long but very different FA Cup histories. Reading have gone no further than the semi finals, a feat they achieved in 1926/27, whilst Everton have won the competition five times and been losing finalists on eight occasions.

No team has fallen at the final hurdle more times than the Toffees, so Everton fans perhaps have a bittersweet association with the cup. They lost out to Chelsea in the final two years ago and know they have an excellent opportunity to salvage a disappointing season as only one of the ‘big four’ will be in the semi finals and the FA Cup odds reflect this.

Only Reading and Leyton Orient can prevent an all-Premier League quarter final line-up and the Royals have nothing to lose against a team whose expectations were raised by putting out holders Chelsea in round four.

Reading should be encouraged by a shaky Everton defence that goes into Saturday’s match against Sunderland with just two clean sheets in its last 21 matches, with the in-form hitman Shane Long a major threat.

Everton have been inconsistent all season but will hope the excellent performance at Stamford Bridge acts a springboard in both league and cup. Relegation is still a threat with FA Cup glory the only chance of securing league football at Goodison Park next season.

Reading have been hard to beat all season, maintaining their decent away form of last season, so an upset is perhaps more likely at Goodison than it is in a prospective replay. The Toffees are unlikely to make this one easy for themselves but should progress after being level at half-time.

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