Everton vs. Fulham: 10 Bold Predictions for FA Cup 4th Round Tie
With the League title all but out of reach at this point, Everton should set their sights on the FA Cup as their last chance at Premiership hardware.
The Toffees’ upcoming fixture with Fulham is the next step in that quest; a step that should be fairly straightforward.
Everton crushed the Cottagers 3-1 when the two clubs met in league play last October, and little has changed personnel-wise. Everton brought in Landon Donovan and Darron Gibson to freshen the side, but the major difference lies along the back line. Veteran Phil Jagielka is still out with a bum knee, leaving youngster Shane Duffy as his cover in the center of defense.
Fulham remain much the same as they were in October, with form being the only difference. Clint Dempsey has strapped his scoring boots on tight, with six goals in three consecutive appearances. Martin Jol’s Lilywhites are full of positive energy after a 5-2 stomping of Newcastle, and will be a handful for Everton to outscore.
With all that said, here are 10 bold predictions for this fourth round match-up between America’s teams.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” Will Be Played Before Kickoff
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In their hearts, sporting fans must know that the real American Super Bowl will be played Friday in the cold north of England.
With both Everton and Fulham featuring star Americans at key positions, this Budweiser FA Cup tilt should rightfully begin with the U.S. National Anthem. What other pre-kickoff ritual could better salute the crush of Yanks invading the English national pastime?
The match will turn on which side’s American star man will best the other. Everton will start Landon Donovan in midfield and Tim Howard in goal, while the Cottagers rely heavily on Clint Dempsey’s invention up front.
And those are just the three we’ll see on the pitch. The Toffees list Marcus Hahnemann as back-up keeper, and even employ Steve Tashjian as a fitness coach. On top of that, aging striker Edson Buddle visited Everton for a trial recently. Does anyone else see another Yakubu in the making?
To salute these valiant Americans overseas, expect the Goodison PA announcer to break out a copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a ball is kicked. Or just hire Whitney Houston. One of those.
David Moyes Will Pass Around a Hat
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With a sort of solemn look in his eyes, David Moyes will come out of the tunnel wearing a black top hat, wave to the roaring crowd, and pass it around the grounds.
While the addition of Darron Gibson during the current transfer window could be filed under “not bad,” Everton still lack the striker—or now healthy veteran center back—they so dearly need. It’s perfectly reasonable for Moyes to ask for fan charity before the match, as all other financial options seemed to be exercised.
Perhaps, out of pity, he’ll inspire Fulham faithfuls to give a couple bucks. A notoriously well-behaved fan base, the Lilywhites’ supporters might be moved to charity after watching the Toffees play, or after sitting in aging Goodison Park for two hours.
Over-under on the amount of money raised: £2,000. Sadly, it will help.
Victor Anichebe Will Start
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One of the few strikers to play well for Everton in the past few games, expect Victor Anichebe to start on the wing for Everton.
Having not played in a Premier League match since late August of 2011, Anichebe was reintroduced into the first team as a New Year’s Day sub against West Brom and scored a fine late winner. Since then, he’s appeared in four games, netting an equalizer against Aston Villa and generally being a menace on the left.
Everton’s problems can be summed up in three words: lack of goals. Anichebe has been a recent trader in them, and will be given a chance to extend his commendable run of form against Fulham. The Lilywhites have many scoring threats across their formation, meaning that David Moyes will need to arm every weapon he’s got.
While he might not score, Anichebe should play a large roll in the proceedings.
Tim Howard Will Regrow His Beard
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In an effort to strike fear into the heart of Fulham’s front men, Tim Howard will regrow his beard prior to the Fulham match.
Revealed against Arsenal earlier this season, Howard’s beard could only be beaten by Robin van Persie’s stonking volley. Otherwise, it was the hairy wall that closed the goal for much of the Arsenal contest.
Why Howard shaved it off is a mystery even to this day. Perhaps he needed a change. Perhaps he wanted to differentiate himself other clean-shaven, bald American goalies. Your guess is as good as mine.
What I do believe, though, is that it will make a return Friday. With many American eyes watching, Howard will want to make some sort of impression. A fantastic beard will be just the ticket. Take that Brad Friedel!
Landon Donovan Will Score
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St. Landon of Donovan will bless Everton Nation with a cup performance worth remembering, descending from up high to baptize Fulham with a goal of biblical proportions.
If you have not paid your dues to the church of St. Landon, shame on you. The man is resurrected every other winter in Everton royal blue to preach the gospel of football to Americans not yet stopped on the road to Damascus. His moves with or without the ball speak to a higher power, of salvation, of providence.
Now all he needs is a goal, and beside Prince Rupert’s Tower he will build his church.
Face it David Stockdale, the result has been preordained. St. Landon will score, and there is no one in heaven or on earth who can stop him. Sometimes the Lord demands sacrifices of us, and this is one of those times. Landon will score, and it will be your fault.
How will the act be accomplished? Dani Alves gave us a taster against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, but imagine that finish off a bicycle kick from a Victor Anichebe cross. Finally, Evertonian prayers will be answered. St. Landon is nothing if not merciful.
Tim Cahill Will Score
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Embattled midfielder/striker Tim Cahill broke his long goal silence against Blackburn, and will do so again during this FA Cup fixture.
Having not scored for his club in over a calendar year, Cahill’s 24th minute strike was marred by a Blackburn equalizer later in the match. The Australian international will still be hungry for more, and should find plenty of opportunities up front to make a difference.
Look for Cahill to score in the most reliable way he knows how: his head. One of the Premiership’s better headers of the ball, all Cahill needs is the right service. With skilled corner-man Landon Donovan now back in the side, Cahill will get his chances in the box.
Combined with Donovan’s goal, Cahill should give Everton at least two on their side of the score line. But how will Fulham fare?
Clint Dempsey Will Score Twice
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Continuing his red-hot form for Fulham, Clint Dempsey will prove once and for all, against a team full of his countrymen, that he is the unquestionably the best American ever to play in the Premier League.
With seven goals in his last six starts, including two hat tricks in his last three appearances, Dempsey has been instrumental to Fulham’s success this year. His 42 career goals in league play are the best of any American ever, and his nine this year places him in a tie for seventh on the top scorers list.
A Dempsey brace during the FA Cup’s fourth round should raise his media profile in America, something that should have happened long ago. His heads-up play against Landon Donovan will be for many a contrast in styles, with Dempsey’s street toughness matching up against Donovan’s posh moves.
A word of advice to Donovan: Do not look straight into Dempsey’s deadened, hollow eyes. Much like the ‘Penance Stare’ of one mythological Ghost Rider, Dempsey’s eyes have the power to burn the soul out of a man with pure hellfire. If Donovan weren’t shielded with a heavenly cloak of majesty, I’d worry for him.
Mutual on-Field Respect Will Lead to Historic “Deuce-Drenthe” Project
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While Royston Drenthe might not start in favor of in-form Victor Anichebe, the Dutchman should see time on the field as an Everton super sub. Clint "Deuce" Dempsey should go the full 90 for Fulham, which should give the two men plenty of time to play against one another.
Coincidentally, both men are known secondarily for their off-field rapping skills. Dempsey’s star turn in “Don’t Tread” alongside Big Hawk and XO was a stirring success story for Nike. Drenthe has also dabbled in the rapped word, coordinating with U-Niq for the crowd-pleasing “Tak Taki.”
Born from their mutual respect playing opposite each other, I envision a hip-hop collaboration fast coming after the cup match. Neither man will be able to resist the prospect of another fantastic rap gig, with the two men supreme ambassadors of the medium to their respective countries.
Somebody get Death Row Records on the phone!
Darron Gibson Will Score
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This is a bit of a wild card. The game could easily finish 2-2 primed for a replay, but fate could step in for Everton’s new man.
Recent acquisition Darron Gibson will choose the FA cup as a prime time to showcase his quality to the Everton fan base. Should he score, it will be the first for his new club across all competitions.
Little used at Manchester United, Gibson has a shot to really make a name for himself with a new start in Merseyside. The Irish international came over just weeks ago, but has yet to make the kind of impact in the scoring column Everton had hoped he would.
With Ross Barkley, Jack Rodwell, Seamus Coleman and Leon Osman all hampered with injuries—or being hidden from other clubs—Everton is desperately thin in midfield. Gibson can make himself a permanent fixture in the first team with a string of goals in the next few games, starting against Fulham on Friday.
Here’s hoping the Irishman can make an impact as soon as possible. A winner might be in his future.
Everton Wins 3-2
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A biased, completely unfounded choice, but these are bold predictions aren’t they?
It will take a huge, unforeseen spurt of offensive success for Everton to put three goals on Fulham, but then again, they did just that in late October during league play.
The Toffees have had their chances in previous games to turn one point into three, yet haven’t been able to convert. If they can put away clear chances, expect Everton to move on in the FA Cup.