Mirallas to lead Everton win at charged-up Stevenage
Everton are unbeaten in 2014 and have kept two clean sheets in their last three games; back them at 17/20 to repeat the feat against Stevenage.
A massive Merseyside derby against Liverpool on Tuesday is on the horizon and as a consequence some fans will have that game firmly in their minds.
However manager Roberto Martinez has already shown an affinity for the cup competitions – he won the FA Cup with lowly Wigan last season – and the Spaniard knows the importance of progressing today.
Martinez said: “There is an affinity you develop with the trophy because it’s so special. It represents all the strong values football should have; someone to have a dream and be allowed to chase it.”
Bet on Everton to keep a clean sheet at 17/20
Everton have reached the last 16 of the FA Cup in the last three seasons and Martinez is not taking the home side lightly.
As a result, he looks likely to start Romelu Lukaku up-front following the sale of Nikica Jelavic to Hull City earlier in the month.
The Ivorian has not been at his best in recent weeks but the 20-year-old already has nine goals to his name this season and is 3/1 to score first.
No-nonsense Stevenage, led by manager Graham Westley, are a physical side and Martinez will be well aware of the need to prove their own physical prowess; expect Lukaku to start.
However Kevin Mirallas has really started to settle into the Premier League of late and the Belgian, who has notched two in his last two starts, looks the better first goalscorer bet.
Playing on the wing or just off Lukaku, his pace and guile should be too much for the League One side and he rates the best bet at 4/1 to open the scoring.
Bet on Mirallas to score first at 4/1
Seamus Coleman is out with an injury and has been an integral part of Everton’s success this season, however Tony Hibbert or John Stones – who played against Stevenage in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season – can ably deputise.
Westley’s side currently sit bottom of England’s third tier, having lost four of their last five league matches.
However their home record has been punctuated by narrow defeats – they have lost 1-0 on three occasions – and they won’t go down without a fight.
Another repeat of that scoreline is 7/1.
Bet on Everton to win 1-0 at 7/1
The two teams were level after 90 minutes in that clash earlier in the season and that will give the home fans, who have sold out the Lamex Stadium despite being charged over £30 for the privilege.
But goals haven’t been easy to come by for Stevenage, with just 21 goals scored in 26 league games.
Main creative influence Greg Tansey is now at Inverness and the focus is on top-scorer Francois Zoko.
He has 12 games in all competitions this season and is 5/2 to add a 13th.
Everton to keep a clean sheet at 17/20