Match Preview: Everton v Middlesbrough

Everton v Middlesbrough, FA Cup, March 8, 2009

Everton have been the most impressive side in the FA Cup this season, seeing off Aston Villa and Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the previous two rounds. Seven points off fourth place in the Premier League could be too big a gap to make up before the end of the season, so the FA Cup is by far the most likely competition for the Toffees to find some joy this campaign.

On paper this all Premier League tie looks like a home banker, as is reflected in the 3/4 odds offered by 888. This is the furthest David Moyes has ever progressed in the world’s oldest cup competition and Everton have not been past this stage since winning the FA Cup in 1995.

Earlier this season, Boro drew 1-1 at Goodison Park but on Boxing Day Everton secured a late victory with a close range goal from Tim Cahill. And betting on the diminutive Australian may bring home some reward.

The former Millwall man is 6/1 first goal scorer and 5/1 to score from inside the six yard box. Another likely goal scorer for the home side is Marouane Fallaini, who is expected to be passed fit following a back problem.

The former Standard Liege midfielder with the big hair is 9/1 to score a header, which sounds like good odds considering three of his four Premier League goals this season have been scored with his head. (Amusingly, Fellaini is evens to be booked in the match.)

There are some reasons to back Boro, not least because the FA Cup has been their only bright spot in a particularly woeful season. Their last away win in any competition came against Championship leaders Wolves in January and they also knocked out West Ham who were the favourites in the last round.

Without a goal in the league this season, Stewart Downing claimed two in two games against the Hammers and the England winger is 4/1 to score and 14/1 to score from outside the box.

Boro have a history of playing well in cup competitions when their league form has been dire and they were shocked this time last season at home to Cardiff when they were favourites to book a spot in the semis.

101gg predicts: Everton 3 – Middlesbrough 1 (50/1)

Full match odds from 888sport here.

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Two other predictions to consider for this Sunday’s matches:

1. David Beckham’s two goals in Serie A this season have come against Bologna and Genoa, Goldenballs is 12/1 to be first goal scorer against Atalanta at the San Siro.

2. With St Mirren showing that anything can happen in the Scottish Cup, Hamilton Academicals could be worth a flutter to win at Ibrox against Rangers with odds of 14/1.