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Everton at Arsenal: Howard or Robles To Start?

Among the maelstrom of nerves and excitement ahead of this weekend's Cup tie with Arsenal, a debate has emerged over the choice of goalkeeper.

Paul Thomas

Tim Howard is Everton's undisputed number one goalkeeper but he has yet to play a cup game this season, with Joel Robles playing against Stevenage and Fulham in the Capital One Cup as well as QPR, Stevenage (again) and Swansea in the FA Cup.

Roberto Martinez has hinted he would have no problem sticking Robles in goal for the game at the Emirates, something that makes me extremely nervous.

It isn't as if Robles is a bad goalkeeper, he seems solid enough and has experience of big cup games in England, playing a starring role in Wigan's FA Cup success last season.

However, he has made mistakes in the Everton games he has featured in this season, most notably his flappy bird impression against Southampton in December and numerous dodgy clearances from back-passes.

But those errors aside it's the disruption it would cause that concerns me the most (after all, Howard is also prone to the odd mistake). Communication and understanding is key for a successful defence and throwing in a 'keeper who has only played seven first-team games for the club will only confuse matters. The Blues have looked more organized when the American is in goal, and a lot of that has due to with Howard's command.

Make no mistake, this game is the biggest of the season so far against very accomplished opposition. If Everton are to win they need to field their strongest side.

It would be bad enough to be without our captain Phil Jagielka, but to stick Robles in as well, with a 19-year-old centre back John Stones in front of him, would be needlessly weakening the team when we need it the least.

I'm not a fan of having a cup 'keeper anyway, it just about works for a team like Manchester City, who are expected to blow away every team they play and so can probably afford to lose a goal or two. But we just don't have the goalscoring firepower to allow for 2-3 goals conceded at the other end.

The margin for error is just too fine in this match to be naming a starting XI shorn of one of our most experienced squad members. Martinez must know this, he's not stupid. And we just hope that is reflected in his team selection.

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