Liverpool (Probable, 4-4-2): Jones; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, José Enrique; Downing, Gerrard, Henderson, Bellamy; Kuyt, Suárez. Out: Adam, Lucas (both knee), Kelly, Robinson (both ankle), Reina, Doni (both suspended).
Everton (Probable, 4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Osman, Gibson, Fellaini, Drenthe; Cahill; Jelavic. Out: Rodwell (hamstring).
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Matches 36, R11 Y133).
All good things come to those who wait and we think David Moyes is about to enjoy his finest hour as Everton manager with victory over bitter rivals Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday.
The younger of the two touchline-hogging Glaswegians cut an extremely frustrated figure when his tenth anniversary as Goodison supremo was marked by a 3-0 defeat in the last Merseyside derby at Anfield, a game that was much more evenly-matched than the scoreline would suggest.
Steven Gerrard was the difference between the two sides on that occasion and while the matchball from that evening is a souvenir that the 31-year-old maestro will treasure for many years to come, we suspect the accompanying anecdote is merely a prelude to the bigger story that will unfold this season.
You only had to witness the desire of the Toffees in their FA Cup quarter-final replay at Sunderland to understand how much Moyes and his players are gunning for revenge and we see no joy for the Redsthis time around if Everton perform to the same standards. With new boy Nikica Jelavic in red hot form at the moment the 7/1′s about him scoring first are a good price.
Try as they might, Liverpool seem unable to produce the quality that’s expected of them and though they managed to snatch a 3-2 win in the dying moments at struggling Blackburn on Monday to make a little more light of a miserable ten-match league sequence, their performance was some way short of reputation.
Put simply, Liverpool are lacking cohesion and Everton have spirit and togetherness in spades. They come into this tie in great form and now pose the kind of goal threat that Liverpool too often take for granted.
There are several ways that punters might wish to get with the Toffees. Odds of 2/1 about an Everton win inside 90 minutes appeal – we make them no better than 7/4 – but we also suspect they will be more than willing to play the waiting the game, if Liverpool also bring along an abundance of defensive discipline.
So the 11/10 or better on Everton to qualify is probably the best course of action for those coming into this cold, but we’re going to back Everton to win the FA Cup at 4/1.
We see Tottenham v Everton as the most likely final and you might wish to consider best odds of 10/3 on some ‘name the finalists’ markets, which works out better than the 3/1 double on both teams to qualify.
However, coming back to this particular game, we anticipate a cagey affair in the mould of most semi-finals and the 8/1 or better on Everton to win 1-0 is the standout bet on the fringe markets.
Everton to win the FA Cup at 4/1 (Bet 365)
Nikica Jelavic to score first at 7/1 (Various)
Everton to beat Liverpool 1-0 at 17/2 (Bet 365)
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