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Everton FA Cup Preview

David Moyes, credit to him, did a manful job of getting his point across, casting doubts over Mike Riley’s integrity to referee a Man Utd match. Since then you’ve had people wondering if the accusation carried weight. Scott on RoM did some digging and came up with stats on the number of penalties he’s awarded.

I think it’s not worth dwelling on that because Moyes has done his job. He’s shifted the attention onto Riley, and he’ll likely be doing something to ‘correct’ his public perception.

One hopes he doesn’t over compensate by, say, booking Ronaldo for diving in the box when he really is a victim of a two footed, studs up challenge by an Everton player.

The Guardian has a piece berating the state of the pitch, and furthering Wenger’s claim that the pitch was a disgrace. I saw the game in passing and it amazes me that a newly built ground ostensibly meant for showpiece events isn’t upto scratch when it’s actually in use. For a team like United, whose traditional mode of playing football is by passing the ball more than lumping it up the pitch, this won’t come as good news. For Everton — while being a pretty good team, nevertheless — this will come as slightly better news, and could work into their plans of derailing our midfield. At the moment, that seems a much easier task than it seemed in January.

Regarding the squad, there is talk that Fergie might reshuffle his squad, taking into account the injuries and the gruelling nature of our schedule. And I understand that. Quintuple or sextuple, the FA Cup remains the least of Fergie’s priorities. But in the midst of all the shuffling, one would hope he doesn’t mess too much with our centre back pairing. For now I’d happily keep Vidic and Rio till their limbs fall off. Rio’s had enough of a break recuperating, and Vidic is usually a machine — so let’s keep them together for now.

With Fergie’s mooted changes, it will be interesting to see if Rafael returns at right back, seeing as Fergie’s spoken about him in glowing terms regarding his training. Brown has returned to training and will play for the reserves against Preston North End on Monday. Again there is talk of rushing him back to the first team during the course of this season run in. A fully fit Brown will be a breath of fresh air in that right back slot which has always seemed a bugbear for us this season. But more importantly, the return of Rafael (and this reshuffling) should hopefully see O’Shea at left back instead of Evra. I think the diminutive left back could do with some time on the bench to refresh, recharge and get back to his best.

On the midfield, Carrick seems to be out with some knock, while Fletcher returns. Fletch would be a starter in my book. I can’t really put a finger on the other midfield slot so I’ll say Anderson again. On the wings it could be a rare start for Nani, with Ronaldo on the other wing.

Up front will be the most interesting position when we look up the team sheet. Rooney was limping in Porto, and Berbatov is being nursed for future battles. This should leave one striker’s berth to Tevez, and wishful thinking has made the other berth open to Macheda. If you think about it though, it doesn’t really sound too far fetched; Macheda could start simply because he seems to show some important attributes — such as his revolutionary ability to actually lurk in the box when the ball comes in — that our other strikers seem to lack.

Prediction: I don’t really know, but I see a closely fought 2-1 win to United.

Come on you Reds!