Game preview - Everton (a)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Sylvain Distin of Everton leads his team mates during an Everton training session at Finch Farm on October 21, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Perhaps all hope seemed lost when Odense travelled to London and conspired to stamp on our fantasies. It would have been so nice, traipsing across Europe and nonchalantly defeating some of the World's best football clubs, for a second, illuminating time. It wasn't to be, though. Instead, we must make do with the FA Cup - quite possibly the most prestigious cup competition known to man and, just like the Europa League, something we've come so close to conquering while not actually doing so.

I wasn't around in 1975, but I can imagine it being a disheartening event when Fulham went 2-0 down at Wembley to West Ham United, who remain to this day the last team to win the FA Cup with an all English team. We had a side blessed by both Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery but the defeat is still by far the closest we've come to lifting this trophy. Just maybe, if we can beat Everton away from home, there'll be a whiff of nostalgia in the air, not only of 1975, but of 2010 too, and hopefully the ending can be somewhat twisted.

Everton have had a shaky season so far and, despite the Merseyside club often enduring infamously slow starts, there is a worry that things won't pick up in time for a late season push into the top half of the table. They currently reside in 14th place in the Premier League, on the same number of points as us, but as we know, league standings count for little in cup competitions and Everton have a side built around some particularly gifted individuals.

Tim Howard keeps goal, and he has been consistent throughout the season so far, while Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Jack Rodwell are all highly coveted, fine examples of English quality. Darron Gibson recently joined the Blues, a player we were interested in ourselves, and our old boy Louis Saha sporadically gets a first team spot. He's 33 now, but he's still sharp in the box.

David Moyes' side beat Tamworth 2-0 to get this far, while we had an arguably tougher excursion at home to Charlton. The Addicks put in a fine display but Clint Dempsey proved too prolific for the League One side, just as he did against Newcastle at the weekend. The American has scored two hat tricks in as many games now, and, as such, there are predators lurking over his signature whilst the January transfer window stays open.

Disregarding the Tamworth victory, Everton haven't won since the start of the month, where they defeated Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns. Despite having two home league games this month, Everton have only picked up a point from Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers, which highlights their inconsistency at Goodison Park. They've won more games away from home than in front of their own crowd, which, if it weren't for our infamously poor form when not at Craven Cottage, would be encouraging news.

In our only encounter this season, Everton travelled southwards to defeat Fulham in late October. Bryan Ruiz scored an impressive chip to tie the score on 66 minutes, but it proved a mere consolation as Moyes' men rallied to win 3-1. It was one of Martin Jol's lower days in his tenure at Craven Cottage, and the Dutchman will be looking at righting his wrongs on Friday evening.

Everton have a string of injuries that could make a victory for Fulham more plausible, with key defensive pair Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka out. Shane Duffy, the 20 year-old Irish international, may play in their place but Seamus Coleman, Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman will all miss out through injury, while Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's proposed move to Spartak Moscow means he is unlikely to feature.

Jol will have less of a selection worry, although Moussa Dembele has been confirmed as a non-starter. The Beglian international has a hip injury that kept him out of the 5-2 win over Newcastle. Orlando Sa, Mark Schwarzer and Zdenek Grygera all reamin sidelined.

Predicted line-up: Stockdale; Riise, Hangeland, Senderos, Hughes; Dempsey, Murphy, Etuhu, Ruiz; Johnson, Zamora

Score prediction: Everton 1 - 1 Fulham

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