Everton return to action this weekend after two consecutive disappointing league losses, but this time it’s easily the biggest single game of their season so far. Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City come visiting in the quarter final stage of this season’s FA Cup with Pep Guardiola’s side on track for an unprecedented quadruple. For their part the Toffees are looking to end a trophy drought that stretches back a generation of fans, with the FA Cup triumph in 1995 the last piece of silverware the club won in recent memory.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti started with the injury news that Joao Virginia was to start in goal for this key clash with both Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen still out injured, but there was good news for both James Rodriguez and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
“We have out the two goalkeepers Olsen and Pickford, we have out Gbamin but we have good news from him that he will start training with us next week.
“We have out James but he will start to train next week. Also out Doucoure and Delph.”
With the international break coming up, Carlo expected to see a couple of them back.
“After the break we have the time to recover some players. James is one of them, maybe Gbamin. And so we are going to only have out Doucoure for the end of the season.
“He is doing well but also we have to wait a little bit on him. Of course the two goalkeepers will be available.”
When asked how much more difficult his task was facing the all-conquering City with an injury-depleted squad, Ancelotti struck a positive note.
“I am not complaining about the players that are not available. It will be a difficult game for us but I don’t think it will be an easy game for Manchester City.
“Maybe it is more difficult for us for sure because they have better quality than us, but I have no doubt they are going to have a difficult game, no doubts for this.”
Regarding Everton’s propensity this season to play better against better teams, Ancelotti affirmed that belief.
“I think in this kind of game we did really well honestly, and where we missed were the games against teams more at our level. With the top teams we did really well all the time so I am confident that tomorrow will be the same.”