ANNIVERSARY:Scot has been praised for his work
FA CUP Quarter-finals
Everton vs Sunderland 14:45
Tottenham vs Bolton 19:30
Playing on Sunday
Chelsea vs Leicester City 16:05 Liverpool vs Stoke City 18:00
LONDON Everton resume the priority of securing a tangible memento for manager David Moyes’s decade of service when they host Sunderland on Saturday in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Moyes celebrated 10 years at Goodison Park this week and has been lauded for his longevity in the hire-and-fire culture of the Premier League as well as for his ability to create a reliable team on modest resources.
What he has not done is brought a trophy to the club whose glory days of the 1980s are getting ever more distant.
The closest he came was in 2009 when he led Everton to the FA Cup final where they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea and this season the Scot is determined to go one better.
By effectively sacrificing Merseyside bragging rights by fielding a weakened team for Tuesday’s 3-0 league defeat at Liverpool, Moyes made it clear what took precedence this season.
“I think you have to juggle your squad and decide where you prioritise,” he told reporters.
With Everton staring at mid-table security in the league, lying ninth on the same points as Sunderland, booking a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final is enticing.
“The boys have been doing really well and hopefully we can continue the decent cup run we have had,” said defender Phil Jagielka.
“After Tuesday’s result it puts a little bit more pressure on the cup because 3-0 is not good enough.”
While Moyes has been praised for his work at Everton, with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson hailing his “grittiness” in doing an “amazing job”, trophies are not the only thing lacking.
They have managed only 28 goals in 28 league games but have also been miserly at the back by letting in just 31 goals, suggesting Saturday’s encounter is likely to be a tight affair.
There are two other all top-flight quarter-finals this weekend as Tottenham Hotspur host Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and Liverpool entertain Stoke City on Sunday.
The only non-Premier League side left in the competition are Championship (second division) Leicester City who head to Chelsea on Sunday.
Bolton’s trip to north London is a chance for both clubs to enjoy some light relief from the league.
Spurs’s grip on third spot has loosened after three successive defeats while Owen Coyle’s Bolton are deep in relegation trouble.
Liverpool will hope for a second trip to Wembley this season, having won last month’s League Cup final to collect their first silverware since the 2006 FA Cup.
They face a Stoke side whose league season is lacking the excitement of a relegation scrap or a battle for European spots.
Having lost last year’s final to Manchester City, Stoke will feel they have some unfinished business in the competition.
Chelsea, trying to lift the FA Cup for the fourth time in six years, seem to have an easier task against Leicester although they nearly came unstuck against another Championship outfit, Birmingham City, in the previous round.
The 2010 winners needed a replay to progress against Birmingham with Juan Mata keeping up his record of scoring in every round of this year’s competition.