Sitting here in my Everton tracksuit, with the Everton crest upon my arm, wondering how good it would be to have a nice little run in this cup this season, and then came up with the perfect excuse in case the red half of Sheffield boot us out tomorrow - "It's got three handles anyway, who wants a cup with three handles?!"
During the draw, I was waiting for Brighton away, Grimsby away, Plymouth away etc. A real trek across or down England on a rainy Wednesday night in August. They paired us with Sheffield United, at home! Nice one!
Last season vs Huddersfield at the same stage of the same competition, David Moyes went with a strong side and it paid off handsomely. Against Brentford he did the same. I hope he does the same tomorrow night and sticks a strong team out. After all, the players and staff have to have a point to prove following the result on Saturday, not necessarily the performance mind. Defeat tomorrow evening doesn't bare being thought about, as it opens a can of repercussions!
The Blades are no mugs, by the way. They're unbeaten this season in the league, dropping their first points at the weekend with a draw away to Tranmere. In the Carling Cup, they drew with Hartlepool, then saw them off 5-4 on pens (and we don't want pens!!) so as well as having his hand forced by the lack of strength in depth in the squad, I reckon Moyes will be wanting to set a precedent in this competition and make his intentions clear - we're in it to win it.
I think last season's top 4 will be putting out reserves and youth, more or less, so the only challenge will come from the likes of Stoke, Fulham, Villa and them from over there. It's a competition we should take serious. After all, Birmingham won it, and they're in Europe. My only concern is the knock on effect any early season fatigue or, more worryingly, injuries may have on the league campaign. It's a fine balancing act.
The Blues are without Seamus Coleman (ankle) and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (suspended), and the gaffer today confirmed Magaye Gueye has a broken toe and will also be unavailable.
Moyes confirmed there are doubts over Tim Cahill (illness) and Jermaine Beckford (knee), whilst Louis Saha is still short of match fitness. Therefore, the likes of Jose Baxter and Connor McAleny could be used. Oh, and we should probably be expected to be graced with the "presence" of Victor Anichebe.
Blades Boss Danny Wilson has stated his intentions of going for the win. Winger Stephen Quinn picked up a knock at Prenton Park on Saturday but has been passed fit. Summer signing Ryan Flynn (ex-redshite) is rated 50/50 following a hamstring strain.
Head to Head
Played 130, Everton 52, Sheff Utd 47 - League Cup Played 3, Everton 2, Sheff Utd 1
Stat of the day
Everton need one more goal to total 200 goals scored against the visitors
Sheffield United last knocked out a Premier League team nine years ago (v Sunderland in December, 2002)
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