It's back to Emirates FA Cup action this weekend following Millwall's terrific comeback victory against Hull City in the Third Round earlier this month, as The Lions invite Marco Silva’s Everton side into The Lions’ Den. Ahead of Saturday evening’s Fourth Round tie against the Premier League Toffees, we’ve been in touch this week with the Liverpool Echo’s Everton Reporter, Phil Kirkbride…
What have you made of Everton so far this season under Marco Silva?
Mixed. An encouraging period during September and November has given way to just two League wins in the last 10.
It remains early in his reign and it's clear he, and the club's director of football, need time.
What do you feel can be achieved by the current crop of players at Goodison Park?
A League finish this season no higher than seventh. That has, typically, been good enough for Europa League qualification and so that remains a possibility but The Blues are struggling for consistency.
Everton are 11th in the table but there is not a lot between a glut of sides in the middle of the standings. The team who finish seventh will be the one who has risen above the inconsistency of the others.
That, as this point, doesn't look like being Everton sadly.
How do you feel Everton will approach this Cup tie?
They have to approach it with everything they've got.
The FA Cup is, really, the only saving grace left on the table.
Silva named a strong team for the Third Round tie with Lincoln but has to pick his strongest side this weekend.
Is a potential Cup run the best opportunity for clubs such as Everton to achieve major success?
The grip of the established top six sides remains firm and though Everton have long-term aspirations of crashing the party, the Cups are the best opportunity for success right now.
Plus, many clubs have used a trophy to catapult their league form and for The Blues, without silverware since 1995, this competition takes on an ever-increasing significance.
Who would you describe as the team’s key men, and possible hidden gems?
Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson have, between them, over half of Everton's league goals this season and so they are two key players, for sure.
As for hidden gems, there aren't too many unknowns in the Blues squad although Millwall fans may not have seen too much of Lucas Digne, the full-back Everton signed from Barcelona in the summer. He's been excellent.
A score prediction for Saturday’s game?
It has to be an Everton win. Exiting the FA Cup at this stage does not bear thinking about – Millwall 0-2 Everton.