Everton visits the Reebok Stadium Saturday to take on Bolton in a crucial fourth round FA Cup match. Everton has played very well this season in the Premier League and currently sit 5th in the table, just three points behind 4th place Tottenham, but have stumbled a little lately and haven’t scored since January 7th in a third round FA Cup match against Cheltenham Town. On the other side, Bolton, a former Premier League side has struggled in the Championship this season and currently sits way down in 16th place. However, tournaments such as the FA Cup are all about momentum and Bolton was able to take down Premier League side Sunderland in the third round and should have confidence entering Saturday’s match at their home stadium.
Bolton will surely put their best foot forward as they are out of the running for the Championship and the FA Cup offers them a chance for some sort of success this season. Everton has seen success on all fronts this season and with a win on Saturday, could see yet another big time victory.
Let’s take a look at some of the key battles for Saturday’s matchup:
Jay Spearing vs. Leon Osman
Two short fiery midfielders with great ball control and leadership qualities will play a huge role in the outcome of Saturday’s match. Spearing, on loan from Liverpool, has played well since joining the Wanderers, but will want to play even better on such a big stage as the FA Cup. His abilities speak for themselves and his tough mentality usually gives him the edge in the midfield. Leon Osman however, gives Everton a very similar presence and has helped them earn a 5th place spot in the Premier League Table. The midfield battles between Osman and Spearing will be great to watch.
Chris Eagles vs. Marouane Fellaini
Eagles and Fellaini have starred for their respective teams this season and both sit as leading scorers. Eagles has scored seven times on the season for Bolton, while Fellaini has put in eight for The Toffies. Both players have the ability to score in a variety of ways and force the opposing team to keep tabs on them at all times. Eagles is a shifty, quick player with great ball skills and what makes him great is his ability to get others involved. He not only leads the team in goals, but also in assists with 12, which is six more than any other player on the roster. Eagles has been everything for Wanderers this season and Everton will have to be very careful defending him. Fellaini is a big, strong player with great aerial ability and distance strikes. With only three assists on the season, Fellaini is usually the target for most chances rather than the set-up man. Fortunately for The Toffies, he has been quite good at finishing chances, which has helped Everton progress this season. The matchup between the two will be imperative to the outcome of Saturday’s match.
Zat Knight vs. Nikica Jelavic
Bolton’s 6’7” central defender Zat Knight is a staple of the Wanderer defense and sits as an imposing figure for opposing strikers. Everton striker Nikica Jelavic however, is not one to back down from anyone or from any challenge, which makes the matchup between the two very interesting. Jelavic has been known to earn free kicks, penalty kicks, and cards from opposing defenders with his tough play and effort. Zat Knight has been known to earn his fair share of cards so defending Jelavic could surely bring the referee to his pocket at some point during the match. It is important for Bolton to keep Jelavic away from the ball because of his Suarez-like nature, and Zat Knight has the ability to shut him down. This matchup will surely play a huge role in the outcome of the match and will come down to which player is on their game.
Bolton 1-2 Everton