Keep Your Enemies Closer: A Chat With Royal Blue Mersey

BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Tim Howard of Everton signals to his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park on August 29 2010 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Our opponent this week is of course Everton FC, so we did a question exchange with Everton's SBN blog, Royal Blue Mersey.  Our responses should go up there soon, and when they do, we'll post a link.  Follow the jump to see tmallows' responses to our questions.

UPDATE: Go here for the half on Royal Blue Mersey where we answer the questions.

1) Everton sit at 11th place, far enough away from the relegation battle to feel safe, but also far enough away from Europe not to worry about it too much, much like Newcastle. Are you comfortable with this situation?  Do you feel that the play of the team so far this year justifies their position in the table?

 

We definitely deserve to be where we are as we have been unable to string two decent performances together all season. For the fans it has been a continual case of raised hopes followed by crashing disappointment. We have ‘turned the corner’ so many time I feel sick!

Take the past few weeks for example – beat Blackpool 5-3 - lose to Bolton - beat Chelsea in the cup and Sunderland in the league - then lose to Reading at home! I just don’t know what to expect next.

After the past few seasons this campaign has been a massive disappointment in comparison. We have enjoyed top five finishes, European runs and a FA Cup final in recent years. But as I said we can have no arguments with our current league position, we just need to concentrate on getting the points required to make sure we are safe.

2) I'm a little worried that the Toffees will come out and play angry following the FA Cup loss to Reading.  Is this a legitimate worry?  How has the team responded to adversity so far this year, in your opinion?

When the players are backed into a corner they tend to come out fighting, though this is generally against the top six when the odds are stacked against us. We have beaten Spurs, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool this season as well as drawing with Man United. Yet we have also lost to Stoke and West Brom and drawn at home to Wolves, West Ham and Wigan.

That Reading result though knocked the stuffing out of them and morale among players, supporters and management is probably at its lowest right now.

The first goal is important on Saturday. If you get it then our heads will drop and you will probably have one of the most comfortable afternoons of the season!

3) Give us an under the radar guy that could make a positive difference for Everton.

 

Tough one, we have such a small squad that most of our ‘secret weapons’ have been outed! I suppose Seamus Coleman is still relatively unknown. He signed for £60,000 from Irish side Sligo Rovers 18 months ago and spent the final six months of last season on loan at Blackpool. He has been a first team regular this season, spending much of it on the right wing, pushed up from full-back.

Looking further ahead Ross Barkley is the latest youngster set to graduate from the Academy. A broken leg suffered on England Under-19 duty has stalled his progress but he should be fully fit in time for next season and should force his way into the first team squad.

4) With Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill out, what will the Everton midfield look like on Saturday?  Do you expect a formation change?

 

Hopefully Jermaine Beckford will arrive at the ground on time on Saturday and if so he should come into the team and allow Moyes to play a 4-4-2. I would expect Dinyar Bilyaletdinov to make way. Leon Osman would push out to the left, Coleman on the right, with Jack Rodwell and Mikel Arteta in the middle.

5) Finally, please give us your projected and ideal Starting XIs and a prediction if you like.

 

 Projected XI:

Howard

Neville Jagielka Distin Baines

Coleman Arteta Rodwell Osman

Beckford Saha

 

Given our small squad and current injury concerns I wouldn’t make many changes to that side. Moyes may choose to play one up front with either Rodwell of Bilyaetdinov just behind. However, after it failed spectacularly against Reading I hope he sees sense and sticks with two strikers.

Prediction? Hmmm tough one, I just don’t know which Everton side will turn up!

Though our away record is generally better than home I think such is the lack of confidence among the players following the Reading result this has home win written all over it – 2-0 to Newcastle.

Putting my optimistic hat on, if we can keep things tight for the first 20-25 minutes and then take the lead we could hang on for a narrow win but I wouldn't put money on it.

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