Where do we go from here?
Wednesday’s dispiriting defeat to Man City has prompted much soul searching amongst the supporters, with the general conclusion being that Roberto Martinez’s time is up.
That will certainly be the case if Everton lose again on Sunday, with the trip to League 2 Carlisle now looking much more treacherous.
The presence of live TV cameras at Brunton Park means there is already an appetite for an upset among the media – so don’t expect much sympathy for Everton from commentators and pundits on the day.
If Everton do lose then it pretty much kills off the season. All we will have to look forward to then is a gathering enough points to keep away from the bottom of the table, and it is still only January.
Five games without a win, three or more goals conceded on seven occasions, six wins in 23 league games. It doesn't look good.
Defeat would also crank up the pressure still further on Martinez, who has lost the majority of the fanbase over the past few weeks.
Just a few weeks ago Carlisle United weren’t even sure whether they could play host to this tie, let alone have a chance of winning.
A devastating winter storm in December caused widespread floods across the city, with Brunton Park submerged in the process. Keith Curle’s side were forced to play ‘home’ games at places such as Preston and Blackpool while repair work was carried out.
After a sterling effort by the club and the local community, the Cumbrians were able to return home against York last week, just six weeks after the floods.
Everton have helped Sunday’s opponents, with the club’s fans’ forum raising more than £7,000 to help the repair effort. The club also donated some merchandise to be auctioned off to help raise more funds.
Sunday’s game should also bank the club around £300,000 and is a welcome boost to the community, though with the total repair bill estimated to come to £3million, there is still some work to do yet.
On the pitch Carlisle are currently 11th in League 2, just three points off the play-offs. They reached this stage of the competition by beating fellow League 2 side Yeovil on penalties.
Everton are again expected to be without Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas as the club continue to assess injuries suffered against Swansea last weekend.
Regular cup ‘keeper Joel Robles is expected to keep his place in goal but Roberto Martinez may make changes and utilise his squad following Wednesday’s disappointment.
Seamus Coleman may be recalled at full-back as he continues his recovery from injury. Steven Pienaar and James McCarthy are also expected to feature as they build-up match fitness.
The final word
Given his popularity level right now, even a win may not be enough to convince a sceptical fanbase that Martinez is still the best man for the job at Goodison Park. Anything other than a victory though doesn’t bear thinking about.
Predicted starting XI: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines, Cleverley, McCarthy, Pienaar, Barkley, Kone, Lukaku.