With tomorrow's match against Sunderland critical for any silverware this season, we sat down with the excellent folks of the Roker Report to discuss the upcoming match. I also answered a few questions for the Roker Report and you can read my amazing wisdom here. Click below to see the Roker Reports thoughts, enjoy the match, and COYB!
RBM: Everton fans have been looking at Sunderland enviously as they have managed to spend more than the change they find in their pockets on new players. Is this something Sunderland will be able to continue, or is this a rare event.
I think we can continue it. We've had extravagant spending of late, but the books remain fairly balanced. I don't want to particularly praise the man too much given the state he left us in, but the spending under Steve Bruce only came out at about a -£4m NET. When you think that we brought in over £40m for just Bent & Henderson, I think we'll still have something to spend in the summer.
RBM: You guys have some suspensions for this match, how much is that going to hurt Sunderland's quality for this match.
I think it will a little. We got the win over Liverpool last weekend without Sessegnon and Cattermole, but our game wasn't quite as fluid as it has been without Catts there to break up play and Sessegnon to provide some magic. Kieran Richardson is also a doubt, and in in the eyes of most Sunderland fans, you could say those three have bene our top three players of the season. It's certainly a big test to see if we can do it without them again, or whether last weekend was a one off.
RBM: Over the weekend, Sunderland defeated Liverpool 1-0 was this an example of just how talented the club can be, or was it just evidence of some hard work and a bit of luck?
It was hard work, but that's what we've been about this season since Martin O'Neill came in, there wasn't any luck about it contrary to what the press would have you believe. Bendtner's goal was fortunate, but I wouldn't have said lucky. We bossed the game for large parts and I can hardly remember Liverpool having a shot on target. Could well be more of the same this weekend.
RBM: Who are the players who need to perform well if Sunderland wants to advance in this competition?
RR: Without the trickery and ability of Sessegnon it's going to be up to the likes of James McClean and Seb Larsson to make something happen for Fraizer Campbell and Nicklas Bendtner. The front two are playing well enough, but Larsson and McClean have both been a little down on their own exceptionally high standards in the last two to three weeks. It's about time one (or both) of them bounce back.
RBM: How does Everton need to attack Sunderland if they want to put the ball in the back of the net?
RR: It's a tough one to say really, our defence has been rock solid of late. Turner and O'Shea have been magnificent in helping us keep 4 clean sheets in the last 8. O'Shea in particular is looking more and more dominant in every game. I'd say if you want to score, it could well be from distance, essentially bypassing the stubborn defence. I'm a huge Simon Mignolet fan, but he does occasionally have moments to make you worry. I think we're all hoping Royston Drenthe and Darron Gibson don't have their shooting boots on. Maybe even a freekick from Baines.
RBM: Who are the players on Everton that worry you the most for Saturday?
Like I said there before, Drenthe's a worry, and probably the main one. I'll be interested to see more of Jelavic too if he gets a game. We were heavily linked with him, so it will be interesting to see what we may have missed out on. Outside of that I'm not too worried about anyone. I'm more concerned as to whether we'll have enough to breakdown Everton. I think it's going to be quite even.
RBM: FInally, what is your prediction for the match?
RR: I think it's going to end a draw, 1-1. We're pretty equal in the standings, you could say our squads are of similar strength and while that means the game could go either way, I see us cancelling each other out. It works out well for us though, as by the time the replay rolls around, we'll have Sessegnon, Cattermole and Richardson back in front of a huge Stadium Of Light crowd, where I think we'd fancy our chances more. Not that I wouldn't take a win on Saturday!