As part of our Everton Rewind series we are going back 11 years to April 2009, with Everton preparing for an FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United at Wembley, their first visit to the national stadium since 1995.
David Moyes’ side go into the game sixth in the Premier League and on a run of just one defeat in 11 matches in all competitions.
Their road to Wembley has not been easy, either. After overcoming Macclesfield in round three, the Toffees have faced Premier League opposition in the form of Liverpool, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
This is the side’s second semi-final in the space of 18 months after losing to Chelsea over two legs in the last four of the League Cup at the start of 2008.
Their last visit to the national stadium came when the twin towers still loomed large, with Vinny Samways scoring the only goal against champions Blackburn Rovers to secure the Charity Shield. Just three months earlier, Paul Rideout’s famous winner against Manchester United had secured the FA Cup for the fifth time in their history.
Trophies have been in plentiful supply for Manchester United in recent years, but this season could be the most productive of all.
With the League Cup already in the bag Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are now bidding to win an unprecedented quadruple.
They are a point clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table and overcame Porto in midweek to set up a Champions League semi-final clash with Arsenal.
Their exertions in Portugal on Wednesday may prompt Ferguson to rest some of his key stars for Sunday’s clash, with an important league game against Portsmouth to come on Wednesday.
The Red Devils have won the FA Cup 11 times, most recently in 2004. They reached the final against Chelsea last season, the first FA Cup final back at the new Wembley, but were undone by a Didier Drogba goal in extra time.
Road to Wembley
Third round: Macclesfield (A) Won 1-0
Fourth round: Liverpool drew (A) 1-1
Fourth round replay: Liverpool (H) Won 1-0 AET
Fifth round: Aston Villa (H) Won 3-1
Sixth round: Middlesbrough (H) Won 2-1
Third round: Southampton (A) Won 3-0
Fourth round: Tottenham (H) Won 2-1
Fifth round: Derby (A) Won 4-1
Sixth round: Fulham (A) Won 4-1
Manchester United 1-0 Everton January 31 2009
Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty secured a narrow but deserved victory for Manchester United at the end of January. Edwin van der Sar’s 12th successive clean sheet also meant he broke the record for most minutes without conceding a goal.
Everton are without long-term injury victims Yakubu (Achilles), Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe (both knee). On-loan forward Jo is cup-tied, meaning Louis Saha is likely to make just his second start of 2009.
Man Utd will still be without Owen Hargreaves, with Rafael and Wes Brown doubtful. Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to rotate his squad with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Anderson set to start.
Everton go into the game as underdogs but their cup run has already shown they are capable of beating the best in the country. With a weakened United likely to take the field at Wembley, Everton may never have a better chance of reaching the final.