Everton v Leicester City Preview
Goodison Park plays host to an all-Premier League tie in the FA Cup third round as Everton welcome Leicester City to the Merseyside. The home side will be taking the competition a lot more seriously than their relegation-threatened opponents which could see this weekend’s result one-sided. Everton have been a tough side to beat in their own backyard this season while Leicester can’t buy a win on the road, and the widespread changes expected to be made by the visitors – to circumvent injuries to key players for their relegation battle and European campaign – might be the deciding factor in the outcome. Everton have been in fine form in recent weeks, boasting three wins and a draw from their last five ahead of the visit of Leicester City, and should have enough to reach the fourth round. The Toffees have been a stubborn outfit in their own backyard under new manager Ronald Koeman, losing just two games in all competitions at Goodison Park this campaign. They will be desperate for a deep run in the FA Cup to avenge their heartache last season when semi-final opponents Manchester United scored a late winner to reach the final. And with Everton looking destined to finish just outside of the European places in the Premier League table, it makes sense to place more focus on winning a domestic cup. With the top-six of the Premier League already nine points clear of the chasing pack seventh and below, Everton’s best chance of getting into the Europa League for next season is by winning the FA Cup. The Blues have the tools at their disposal and shouldn’t risk elimination by resting their key players for league matters when the gap to the top-six seems out of their reach. Leicester City won’t share that view as they have survival to worry about in the Premier League this season. Just months after winning the league title against all odds, the Foxes are in real danger of the drop and may give some of their star players a rest as a result of the recent congestion of fixtures, instead focusing on survival and manager Claudio Ranieri strengthening his job security. Leicester also have Champions League matters to worry about as the European competition returns in a matter of weeks and City won’t really want the cup adding even more goals to their busy schedule. Leicester City’s form sees them as underdogs regardless of what squad they put out at Goodison Park, having won just two league games in their last 11. The Foxes lost at home to Everton in the league when the two sides locked horns last month too, and their results on the road this season have been a real worry. Outside of the Champions League, Leicester haven’t won on the road in 2016/17. They have lost seven and drawn three away from home in the Premier League and recently played out an abject goalless affair away to newly-promoted goal-shy Middlesbrough, a game they would have easily won last season. As a result, Saturday’s FA Cup clash should be Everton’s to lose.