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Everton hope familiar faces won’t come back to haunt them

Toffees face Sunderland aiming to end wretched run

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The League Cup, in all its various guises, has never been kind to Everton. Not only have Everton never won the competition but have they regularly been dumped out by lower league opposition in the early stages.

Brentford, Oxford Utd, Bristol Rovers, Norwich and Leeds are just a few of the sides to progress at the expense of the Toffees over the years.

The team haven’t always taken the competition seriously either, which given the club’s trophy drought is about to extend into a 23rd year, is both puzzling and frustrating.

The club reached the semi-finals as recently as 2015 but have only made it past the third round twice in the past seven seasons.

However, Wednesday’s game against Sunderland is unlikely to be taken lightly by Ronald Koeman, as the Dutchman looks to guide his team away from the precipice.

Four successive defeats without scoring has ratcheted up the pressure on Koeman and his players, with a bristling fanbase now entirely free of the optimism generated over the summer.

He simply has to get a positive result at Goodison Park on Wednesday or risk further scrutiny of his position.

The opposition

If you think things at Everton are bad, spare a thought for Sunderland.

The Black Cats tumbled out of the Premier League last season after a throughly miserable campaign under David Moyes.

Key players such as Jordan Pickford were sold to pay off debts and begin to rectify a succession of mistakes made at boardroom level that meant their ultimate relegation was a long time coming.

Moyes resigned shortly after the end of the season and was replaced by Preston boss Simon Grayson.

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The result was a summer of disruption that saw 13 players leave and are further 10 join permanently or on loan.

Results have been indifferent to say the least, with just one win from their opening eight league games leaving the club one place above the relegation zone.

It’s left supporters feeling angry and let down by those at the very top of the club, as well as fearful about just how far they may fall before things get better.

Team news

Ronald Koeman is expected to make changes, though the importance of getting result means it should still be a relatively strong side.

The likes of Kevin Mirallas, Ademola Lookman, Jonjoe Kenny, Mason Holgate and, yes, Oumar Niasse, could be involved at some stage.

Maarten Stekelenburg may play in goal, though I’m sure Pickford will be desperate to play against his old side.

Everton v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Everton loanees Ty Browning and Brendan Galloway are unable to play for Sunderland but former Toffee James Vaughan is available after recovering from illness.

Another trio of ex-blues, Jack Rodwell, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo, are also likely to feature.

Predicted starting XI:

Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina, Besic, Schneiderlin, Klaassen, Lookman, Mirallas, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

12 months ago Norwich inflicted Everton’s first defeat of the season at the same stage of this competition.

The following weekend the Toffees lost at Bournemouth, the start of a run that yielded just one win from 11 matches.

Evertonians everywhere will be hoping the opposite will happen this time around and a win can inject some much needed confidence into the side before Bournemouth arrive at Goodison on Saturday.

To be honest a defeat is almost unthinkable and would spark a full blown crisis. So lets just not go there, yeah Everton?