Everton's Keys to Victory vs. Oldham in FA Cup Tie

Paul MullaneyContributor IIFebruary 14, 2013

Everton's Keys to Victory vs. Oldham in FA Cup Tie

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    Everton's reward for their late win over Championship side Bolton in the previous round was to be handed a tie against Oldham Athletic—the very team who knocked out Everton's rivals Liverpool.

    Liverpool were the side who defeated Everton in the cup semi-final last year, with a late winner from Andy Carroll enough to secure the win and his team's place in the final after Luis Suarez had cancelled out Nikica Jelavic's opener.

    Oldham made sure that Liverpool won't stand in Everton's way this time around, but could they pull off the feat of knocking out both of Merseyside's Premier League sides in consecutive rounds?

    Everton are massive favourites going into Saturday's tie but that doesn't make it a formality.

    Here are five things Everton will need to get right if they want to avoid an upset.

Score First

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    It's hard to overestimate the importance of getting the first goal in a cup-tie like this one.

    If you concede early, you hand momentum to the opposition, and give them the opportunity to sit back and try to hang on to their lead.

    If you struggle to find the breakthrough, the longer you go without scoring the more the opposition start to feel like they have a chance, and you run the risk of being caught out on the break having pushed too many men forward.

    Take the lead early though, and you go a long way to dispelling any unwelcome nerves or doubts which might have creeped in pre-match.

    In their third Round tie with lowly Cheltenham, Everton could have had a tricky game on their hands, but Jelavic opened the scoring after just 11 minutes and made things a lot easier for his side, who went on to win 5-1.

    If they can do the same on Saturday it's highly likely they'll go through.

Retain Possession

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    Everton are a side who like to keep a hold of possession, and who more often than not look to work the ball forward instead of just lumping it up the park.

    On what's likely to be an inferior surface to the sort they're used to playing on in the Premier League it might be a bit more difficult to get their passing game going at Boundary Park, especially with Oldham looking to get right in amongst them.

    If they are able to keep the ball from their opponents however, they'll find it far easier to impose themselves on the game, to dictate the tempo, and to play it at their own pace.

Show Oldham Respect

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    Liverpool made the mistake of resting players for their tie against Oldham, and as a direct consequence they went on to lose the game 3-2.

    They brought in the likes of Brad Jones and Jack Robinson and left it too late before bringing Steven Gerrard off the bench, meaning he was unable to have enough of an impact on the result.

    Everton on the other hand have fielded strong sides in their previous two ties, and will almost certainly do the same on Saturday.

    Given that winning the league title was never a possibility and that they didn't make much progress in the League Cup, the FA Cup represents the only opportunity Everton have to end the season with some silverware.

    They haven't won anything since winning the Cup in 1995, and while it might be tempting to use this as a chance to give starts to players who haven't had much game time, it's important they field as strong a side as they can.

Ignore the Crowd

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    A crowd can have such a massive impact on a cup-tie like this one, where a Premier League side travels to the home of a club from the lower divisions—just ask Brendan Rodgers.

    The home fans were a major factor in Oldham's upset in the last round, both in terms of getting behind their own team and getting on the backs of the opposition.

    In terms of the ground itself, Boundary Park is something of a throwback and it's the sort of ground fans brought up on a diet of Premier League and Champions League football will never have experienced.

    It's also the sort of venue that Premier League players can sometimes struggle in.

    Used to more opulent surroundings, they often find making the adjustment difficult, and before they've become accustomed to their surroundings they find they've conceded an early goal.

    Everton have come through ties like this before, and they'll know that the best way to do this is to tune out the crowd noise, or better still, to silence them with an early goal.

Find the Motivation

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    One other aspect which can complicate a game such as this one is the problem of motivation.

    Oldham, with nothing to lose, will have no difficulty getting motivated for the game, and they'll know that regardless of the result their fans will give them a rousing reception coming off the park.

    Facing off against a far superior side, their only expectations will be to do themselves justice, and to make sure they don't make any daft mistakes. Anything else on top of that will be a bonus.

    By contrast, all the pressure is on Everton going into the tie, and while their fans will be happy so long as they get through to the next round, anything less than that would be a deep disappointment.

    To avoid any possible upset they'll need to make sure they're properly motivated, and that even if they have their sights set on a semi-final or even a final further down the line, they're able to focus fully on the task at hand.