Fan Focus: Yet More Opinions From Royal Blue Mersey

Steven Pienaar could be a big danger for us in this game.

Here we are again with another Fan Focus. We do speak to other teams about this as you've seen, but circumstances dictate that we play Everton quite a lot over the last few weeks, and it's only fair that they get their dues once again.

So here we are, speaking to Brian Lewis, editor the fantastic Everton blog Royal Blue Mersey, getting his opinions on our last meeting in the FA Cup, plus some thoughts on how the rest of their season will pan out, starting right away with Monday's game.

Now, let's hand over to Mr Lewis and find out how things are on the blue side of the Mersey...

Here we are doing this again! I guess after the last two games you'll be quite happy to face us again won't you?

BL: I think it is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand we have shown the ability to beat Sunderland rather convincingly, but my guess is you guys are pretty angry about your performance in the FA Cup and will be looking for some revenge. This is definitely the type of game where Everton needs to show up to play, and not just hope a little luck can give them all three points.

You've got the FA Cup Semi-Final now, which we're all very jealous of. How much are you looking forward to that game?

BL: It is a pretty exciting time, there hasn't been this much optimism around Goodison since 2009 when we made it to the FA Cup Final. For once it seems that all of the off the field problems have faded for a few weeks, and we can finally put all our energy into supporting the players on the pitch.

Is there any danger you'll have one eye on the FA Cup between now and then, and potentially slip a little in the league?

BL: I think it could certainly be a problem, but David Moyes is going to do his best to thrash any potential slip up out of the team. I think it also helps that we are playing on Monday, and not Tuesday or Wednesday which will give us an extra day of rest before the match. With the exception of the Liverpool match in March, we really haven't shown many signs of slipping when looking towards big matches. The team just needs to go out and perform in each match.

Nikica Jelavic really impressed us in the two meetings last month, and he seems to have adapted well from the SPL which not many players do. What's been Everton opinion of him so far?

BL: He is quickly becoming both a fan and David Moyes favourite and that rarely happens. Moyes likes Jelavic because of his excellent work ethic, along with a fantastic ability to finish. His aerial ability is also a nice complement to Tim Cahill's, and the future is definitely bright. Moyes has always struggled to find the right striker that will fit into his system, and I think Jelavic is the first in a long time that Moyes feels comfortable with. Now we just have to hope he continues his excellent run of form.

Looking ahead to this game, are you expecting to see a very different Sunderland side to the one which rolled over in the FA Cup replay?

BL: I would expect the effort to come out of Sunderland to be much better. Despite having home advantage, Sunderland never really appeared to settle in the quarterfinals, and once Jelavic got the first goal, there wasn't a lot of fight out of you guys. Of course the own goal really killed off any hope the squad was building, and the score could have been a lot more lopsided had we been more clinical. I think we will see a squad that played more like the first match at Goodison rather than replay.

Who would you say will be Everton's key man in this game?

BL: Without a doubt it has to be Steven Pienaar. The past few league matches have shown Pienaar and Baines to arguably be the best left-side combo in the EPL, and it looks like Pienaar never left the team for a year. If Sunderland has any chance of success in this match, they will have to thwart Pienaar and force Baines to beat them by himself.

And lastly mate, could we trouble you for a prediction on how the game will go and a score...

BL: I think the combination of Pienaar and Baines on the left will prove to be too much for Sunderland to deal with in the end. I'm going to say a 1-0 victory to Everton, but this is going to be a much closer game than our quarterfinal replay, and a draw would not surprise me.

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Thanks once again to Brian for allowing us to pester him with questions over the last few weeks. If you've enjoyed reading, be sure to follow them on Twitter @RBMersey and visit their site for more Everton news and opinion. We even answered some of their questions, so do it!

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