It is finally here, what is quite possibly the biggest game in recent years as the club find themselves ninety or one-hundred and twenty minutes away from a trip to Wembley and the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light is sure to be electric. Whilst the media has seemingly already written off SAFC's chances with their clamour for a Merseyside
Semi-Final, the home side will hope this only serves to add to further pressure to Moyes' side especially following his surrendering of a derby in a bid to rest players ahead of the original Quarter Final at Goodison.
Both sides tasted victory at the weekend, with Sunderland bouncing back from the disappointing showing at Blackburn midweek with a comfortable victory over QPR whilst Everton managed an impressive victory over the media's darlings Swansea. Tonight's replay is perfectly poised and hopefully will see Marty's party continue to Wembley.
Sunderland Team News:
Well there's good news and bad news going in to tonight's game folks. We'll start with the bad. John O'Shea was an injury doubt going in to Saturday's game with QPR but was given the nod and employed in the right back slot. The commanding Irishman lasted just half an hour before he was forced off with a calf injury and will be missing tonight.
You would expect Phil Bardsley to return to the side following his absence through illness and slot back into his usual position, keeping any disruption to O'Neill's back line to a minimum, with Kyrgiakos and Turner reprising their roles in the heart of defence and the improving Wayne Bridge at left back.
The good news comes in the shape of our skipper Lee Cattermole, back in contention following his ban. Lee was in fine form before his foolish indiscretion following the full time whistle in the Tyne/Wear derby and his leadership in the centre of the park will be a welcome return for O'Neill.
Sebastian Larsson is also expected to return to action following O'Neill's decision to rest his set-piece specialist on Saturday. The Swede was looking noticeably jaded at Ewood Park and the break from action will surely have done him the world of good.
Everton Team News:
Tonight marks Everton's fourth game in eleven days, a congested fixture list which despite Moyes' moans does not seem to have affected their performances on the pitch as a morale boosting away victory at Swansea showed.
Everton captain, and windup merchant extraordinaire in the original fixture, Phil Neville has spoken out this week claiming that his spell with the club will have been a failure if he was to retire without having won any silverware. Whilst possibly a little melodramatic it may also serve as extra pressure the side are putting upon themselves?
Moyes has a couple of injury concerns to contend with ahead of tonights replay with Jack Rodwell expected to undergo a pre-match fitness test, but Seamus Coleman will miss the game.
Another who will miss out is tricky winger Royston Drenthe, who has been given compassionate leave by David Moyes this week while he tends to a family matter at home in the Netherlands.
Steven Pienaar also misses out as he's cup-tied, having appeared earlier in the competition for Spurs.
One boost for the Merseyside club however is that Darron Gibson should come back into the starting lineup, and face several of his former Manchester United teammates.
Predicted SAFC Lineup:
Mignolet, Bardsley, Kyrgiakos, Turner, Bridge, Larsson, Vaughan, Cattermole, McClean, Bendtner, Sessegnon
Predicted EFC Lineup:
Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Neville, Fellaini, Cahill, Gibson, Jelavic
Whilst not one that Sunderland fans will remember too fondly, a 4-1 Everton win back in 1985, was a game that showcased the many talents of a man that is better known these days for his questionable opinion on the fairer sex - Andy Gray. It was also a game that saw Paul Bracewell, facing his former side for the first time since leaving Wearside the previous summer and Peter Reid star in Everton's midfield.
Sunderland couldn't have asked for a better start as Ian Wallace gave the visiting side a first minute lead with a neat diving header
Gray first pulled his side level before putting them into the lead with two outrageous diving headers - something which you don't see enough of these days if you ask me.
Everton went on to grab another two goals, while the visitors had a couple questionably chalked off due to offside, to condemn Sunderland to a comprehensive defeat and were head and shoulders above the Black Cats that afternoon.
Get Rich Quick
If the first encounter between the two sides at Goodison was anything to go by then we are in for another close fought match where, lets be honest, Sunderland being Sunderland, extra time and penalties being required to separate the sides would be no great surprise.
The bookies have Sunderland down as favourites for the encounter, available at around 6/4 to win within the ninety minutes and 8/11 to qualify, with home advantage obviously being classed as a big benefit on the night.
- Sunderland to qualify at 8/11 looks decent value, I can see this one going to extra time.
- Nicklas Bendtner has been in fine form since returning from injury and is 11/2 to open the scoring.
- Tim bloody Cahill seems to love playing against Sunderland and is available as an anytime goalscorer at 5/2.
- With a tight game predicted by many the goals market might be worth a look. Two or three goals in the game caught my eye and is available for just short of evens at 20/21.
Song For Whoever
"One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal. One golden glance of what should be..."
I'd love to be able to predict a routine win for the lads tonight but if as a Sunderland fan you know fine well that given half a chance we will always do things the hard way. I can see another 1-1 draw at the end of the ninety before a goal within the first half of extra time will give us the win but not before a fair few nervy moments before the final whistle goes.
Sing your hearts out for the lads!