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Everton at West Ham: FA Cup Round 3 Replay Preview

Romelu Lukaku's late equalizer bought Everton a second chance at moving on in the FA Cup. Can the Toffees find a way make the opportunity count when the visit the Boleyn Ground?

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his late equalizer against West Ham last week.
Romelu Lukaku celebrates his late equalizer against West Ham last week.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The fact that Everton's best two matches of the last month and a half are a pair of home draws clearly shows how disappointing this season has been. Yet, the draws against West Ham United and Manchester City may be what turns the season around.

Romelu Lukaku's late equalizer against West Ham last Tuesday earned the Toffees a replay, and a chance to still make the FA Cup Fourth Round.

The winner of this match will go on the road to play the winner of the Doncaster Rovers and Bristol City replay. Both clubs are in League One, so Everton and West Ham will surely feel a victory at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday will have them in a great position to make the Round of 16.

Team News

Everton picked up no new injury concerns during Saturday's draw against Manchester City. Sylvain Distin remains out with a muscle injury picked up last week, while Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, and Tim Howard remain long-term injury absences.

James McCarthy is not ready for a return from his hamstring injury.

The Opposition

When Everton met the Hammers last week, I wrote that West Ham was having a solid season, but was perhaps leveling out.

With two 1-1 draws in the last week, West Ham now has only one win in its last seven matches in all competitions.

Are the Hammers simply not as good as their early season form indicated, or are they simply a victim of a tough run in the schedule (matches at Swansea City, Everton and Arsenal, as well as at home against Chelsea)?

The answer is still unclear, but Sam Allardyce will be hoping either way that West Ham can launch a turnaround of its own against Everton on Tuesday.

West Ham will nearly have a full squad when the clubs meet, with only Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho in line to miss out. Kouyate is with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations, while Sakho has a back injury.

Sakho's absence is a crucial one though, as the Senegalese striker leads the Hammers in goals with eight.

When he missed last week's match, Allardyce responded by making a tactical shift. West Ham lined up with Enner Valencia as a lone striker, as Andy Carroll was also out due to injury. With Carroll healthy (and scoring a lovely goal over the weekend), it seems likely that we will see a Carroll/Valencia partnership up front from the Hammers.

This may also mean that Stewart Downing can return to his central role behind the strikers, in which he has had success this season.

What to Watch For

The FA Cup remains Everton's best chance to make something of a disappointing season.

So even though it is the club's third match in a week, the lineup will likely look similar to that which took the pitch against Manchester City.

Roberto Martinez would be a fool to change anything at the back, after the back four of Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines did well for long stretches against City.

Muhamed Besic and Gareth Barry will partner in the midfield again, as injuries have left Martinez little other choice.

Lukaku has enjoyed perhaps his best pair of games of the season this week, and will be called upon to continue that form.

As usual, the only lineup question marks lie in the attacking midfield trio. Certainly Kevin Mirallas will play if he is fully fit, while Steven Naismith's goal against Manchester City could earn him a spot against West Ham as well. Martinez has clearly been trying to get Ross Barkley going, and given him plenty of opportunities in recent weeks.

Those three seem the most likely to start, but Aiden McGeady remains an option if Martinez wants width in the side. Samuel Eto'o could also feature.

The Final Word

With the return of Andy Carroll and the shift of location, this match will provide a bigger challenge for the Toffees than last week's. An inconsistent performance like Everton put forward at Goodison will surely not be good enough to beat a Hammers side nearly at full strength.

But, if the Toffees can manage a performance like they had against Manchester City over the weekend, they can certainly move on to play Doncaster Rovers or Bristol City.