It’s taken a while this season but the FA Cup has finally come alive and two terrific semi-finals to look forward to this weekend.
It appears extremely difficult to predict the outright winner even at this late stage of the competition, Everton are the outsiders of four, but no bigger than 5.00 to lift the trophy, and a case can be made for each of the remaining quartet.
The one imponderable is Chelsea’s team selection against Tottenham on Sunday, with Barcelona looming in the Champions League just three days later, and for that reason I am giving the all-London clash a swerve.
In the Merseyside derby 24 hours earlier, Liverpool are favourites across the board to book a return trip to Wembley for the final, having already secured the Carling Cup earlier in the season, but their rivals are likely to prove fierce opponents and Everton look the team to be with.
Nobody can doubt Liverpool’s recent cup pedigree but Kenny Dalglish’s team continue in terrible form, there was little to like about their 3-2 win over beleaguered Blackburn in midweek, and I remain happy to oppose them.
Having slumped to their current position of eighth in the Premier League as a result of only three top flight wins in 2012, Dalglish has come under plenty of pressure to turn around the fortunes of his misfiring side but a renaissance appears a long way off and, in Everton, face a team very much upwardly mobile.
The Toffees, now a point ahead of their near neighbours despite a troubled first half to their season, have won nine of their previous 15 matches and a 2-0 replay win at the Stadium of Light over Sunderland in the quarter-finals of this competition was very impressive.
Everton’s strength has always been defensively, they have kept clean sheets in four of their last five fixtures, all victories, but the goals have started to flow, too, and one could be enough to get the better of Liverpool given the Reds’ lack of attacking threat.
At 2.00, I want to be with Everton to qualify but I’ll also be backing Moyes’ boys to win to nil. That looks a much more likely scenario than SkyBet’s 5.00 suggests and it could prove a memorable afternoon for the blue half of Merseyside.
2pts Back Everton To Qualify (vs. Liverpool) @ 2.00 (Various) 1pt Back Everton To Win To Nil (vs. Liverpool) @ 5.00 (Sky Bet)