One of the most highly anticipated FA Cup fourth-round matches features Everton taking on Luton Town at Goodison Park.
Both teams are neck-and-neck in the Premier League table, separated by just one point and one place.
They had to go through replays to progress from the third round, with Everton narrowly defeating Crystal Palace and Luton emerging victorious against Bolton Wanderers from League One.
Everton has had a strong start to 2024, remaining unbeaten and yet to concede a goal. Following two consecutive goalless draws against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Premier League respectively, they secured a narrow 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Andre Gomes’s fantastic free kick in the first half ended their winless streak and prevented another FA Cup third-round elimination.
Despite facing off-field challenges with Premier League charges for financial rule breaches, Everton manager Sean Dyche expressed relief and delight over his players’ victory against Palace. He acknowledged the difficult period for Evertonians and praised the team’s resilience.
Having enjoyed a ten-day break, Everton will be well-rested and prepared for the match against Luton. They have an impressive record in the FA Cup fourth round, winning seven of their last eight ties.
Additionally, they have won 11 out of their last 14 home matches in the competition. Everton has also advanced from their last three FA Cup encounters with Luton, the most recent being a 1-0 victory in a quarter-final replay back in 1986.
However, Everton has struggled to progress from successive ties against fellow Premier League opponents since 2016.
Luton, on the other hand, has also started the New Year undefeated, with two draws followed by an away victory over Bolton Wanderers.
They showed great character by coming from behind to secure the win and reach the fourth round for the fourth consecutive year.
Luton has recently enjoyed success at Goodison Park, defeating Everton 2-1 in the Premier League last September thanks to goals from Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris.
They have put together a three-game unbeaten run on the road, scoring six goals in the process.
However, their FA Cup fourth-round performances have been inconsistent in recent years, alternating between elimination and progression.
They have also struggled against Premier League opposition in the competition, winning just one of their last ten ties.
Everton is expected to be without Seamus Coleman (hamstring) and Ashley Young (knock), who are close to returning from injury but may not be fit for this match.
Andre Gomes is ruled out with a calf problem. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dele Alli remain sidelined with hamstring and groin problems, respectively.
Idrissa Gueye is on international duty with Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations. Joao Virginia is likely to start in goal, with James Tarkowski and Jarrad Brathwaite preferred in defense.
Nathan Patterson and Vitaliy Mykolenko could feature at full-back. In midfield, Andre Onana and James Garner are set to partner, while Lewis Dobbin may start behind either Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Beto up front.
Jack Harrison and Dwight McNeil will provide support from the flanks.
Luton Town will be missing Tom Lockyer (heart), Marvelous Nakamba (knee), and Mads Andersen (calf) due to injury.
Issa Kabore is away on international duty with Burkina Faso. Alfie Doughty and Chiedozie Ogbene are expected to continue as wing-backs, with Amari’i Bell a contender for Reece Burke’s place at center-back.
Albert Sambi Lokonga, Elijah Adebayo, Jacob Brown, and Andros Townsend will be pushing for starting roles in the attack.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski, Jarrad Brathwaite, Vitaliy Mykolenko;
Jack Harrison, Andre Onana, James Garner, Dwight McNeil;
Luton Town: (3-4-2-1)
Teden Mengi, Josh Osho, Amari’i Bell;
Chiedozie Ogbene, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Jordan Ruddock, Alfie Doughty;
Ross Barkley, Tahith Chong;
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Luton Town
We predict a close encounter between Everton and Luton Town. Both teams have had sufficient rest and will be eager to claim victory at Goodison Park.
Luton has already tasted success against Everton this season, but we believe that a motivated Everton side seeking revenge will secure a 2-1 win and advance to the next round without the need for a replay.