TOMORROW’S FA Cup scrap at Goodison Park is much more important to Everton than Blackpool.
Even the Toffees’ players admit it.
While Blackpool have the league to aim at, gunning for promotion back into the Premier League, David Moyes’ men have little to play for other than perhaps a late run at getting in the Europa League.
But lying in tenth position, nine points off sixth-placed Newcastle, that seems unlikely.
Put simply, the FA Cup is Everton’s only chance of any success this season and it is why they are desperate to dispatch the Seasiders and progress to the quarter-finals.
Moyes’ men, losing FA Cup finalists in 2009 and looking to end a 16-year trophy drought, are certainly in good form.
The Toffees have won their last three matches at Goodison Park – against Fulham, Manchester City and Chelsea – and defender Leighton Baines hopes that run can continue to edge them closer to another Wembley appearance.
“It is a massive game for us,” the England left-back said, ahead of Pool’s visit.
“We are desperate for a cup run as we know how much we all enjoyed it last time.”
Unfortunately for Everton, on-loan Steven Pienaar – scorer of the first goal against Chelsea at the weekend after his return from Tottenham – is cup-tied for the clash.
Since signing on deadline day, the South Africa international has brought a spark back to his former club.
It has not gone unnoticed among his team-mates, with Baines admitting the whole team has changed.
“He is such a good player he makes a massive difference, and in the last couple of games he has changed the dynamic of the team. He gives us something totally different,” he said.
“He can take the ball in any situation and is the link between back to front, and he definitely gives us a different side to our game.”
Fellow loan signing Denis Stracqualursi, who joined in August from Argentinian club Tigres, has started to find his feet in recent weeks and has scored twice in the last four matches, including the winner in the last round of the FA Cup against Fulham.
Baines added: “Denis has worked so hard over the last couple of months. He works his socks off every single day and the lads couldn’t be happier for him.
“As long as you have that you give yourself a chance. and the fans and the players have taken to him because of it.
“He has fitted in nicely and another goal will boost his confidence.”