Stevenage Vs. Everton: 5 Thoughts

Paul Gilham

Oviedo's injury overshadows the occasion, but Mirallas, McGeady and Naismith show promise.

1. Oviedo's injury overshadows the occasion.

Unfortunately, the major story to come out of Everton's FA Cup outing this weekend wasn't the Toffees smooth progression to the competition's fifth round, but the horrific leg break suffered by Bryan Oviedo. The Costa Rican has finally begun to make his mark this season following Leighton Baines' recent absence, and has shone both defensively and going forward. The reaction of Oviedo's teammates following his first half challenge on Simon Heslop however, made it immediately clear that the left back had sustained some serious damage.

The freak injury, a double fracture of the left leg, means that Oviedo will miss the rest of the season, and most likely the upcoming World Cup - a cruel blow for a player who has shown nothing but passion and dedication since his move from FC Copenhagen. In the meantime, there's no doubt that all Evertonians will be wishing him a full and speedy recovery.

2. McGeady makes a positive start.

Elsewhere, January signing Aiden McGeady impressed on his full debut, demonstrating some of the pace and trickery that prompted Roberto Martinez to secure his services from Spartak Moscow. Some fans had expressed doubts over the winger's physical condition, with McGeady not having played since mid-November, but after completing 90 minutes without any apparent issues he may be closer to full fitness than originally anticipated.

Granted the quality of opposition on Saturday wasn't particularly high, but if the Irishman can trouble Premier League defenders in the same manner that he did Stevenage's Peter Hartley then he could yet play a significant part in Everton's quest for European football.

3. Does Naismith deserve a shot in the derby?

Say what you like about Steven Naismith, and many Evertonians do, he does have a knack for scoring goals. The Scottish forward has become a focal point for groans and grumbles whenever he is deployed by Roberto Martinez, but the fact remains that in seven starts this season in all competitions Naismith has managed four goals, a return bettered only by Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman.

Part of the problem has been Everton's tendency to force Naismith out wide, where the impact of his predatory instinct in and around the penalty area is minimised. When played through the middle as he was against Stevenage though, the forward looks far more dangerous, scoring twice on Saturday and combining well with Everton's trio of attacking midfielders. Should Ross Barkley fail to make the squad for Tuesday's Merseyside derby, it is surely not outrageous to suggest playing Naismith alongside the returning Lukaku. After all, he already has one derby goal to his name.

4. Mirallas begins to hit top form.

Kevin Mirallas has endured a frustrating campaign thus far, struggling for consistency and showing glimpses of his incisive attacking play only infrequently. There have been signs in recent games however, that the Belgian is beginning to rediscover his best form.

A stunning free kick against Norwich was followed by an opportunistic strike at the Hawthorns, and against Stevenage Mirallas was the standout performer once again. Excelling in the vacant number 10 spot, he linked well with McGeady and Naismith and capped off a superb display with a stunning overhead assist for John Heitinga's header. With injuries taking their toll on the squad, it seems that Mirallas is finally stepping up to fill the void.

5. We could hardly have asked for a better draw.

With so many Premier League teams progressing to the FA Cup's fifth round, the sixth round draw was something of a minefield. The Toffees made it through relatively unscathed though, with a home draw against Swansea one of the best outcomes Roberto Martinez could have hoped for.

Perhaps even more significant is the fact that two of Manchester City won't be making it to the quarter-finals, as the current top four were all drawn together. Evertonians need only think back to last season, when a certain Mr Martinez brought his struggling Wigan side to Goodison Park in the cup, to remind themselves that it would be unwise to think too far ahead, but as things stand, there is certainly the potential for the Blues to progress very far in the competition.

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