Rafa to risk rotation trap as Everton come around again?

Jamie Carragher was featured in yesterday’s Guardian. In the article he explained why he failed to show up at recent BBC Sports Personality of the Year Show. The reason was not because it is cr*p or because a “personality” rarely wins it, but because he was so upset at the recent 2-2 result against Hull in which he was unfortunate enough to put through his own net.

“I couldn’t get out of the house, couldn’t look at anyone, I said: ‘I’m so sorry, I just can’t go there. I can’t put on a front, I feel so bad, I can’t go on the telly in front of everyone…. I was thinking: ‘Let me get another game out of the way.’ The next one was Arsenal. I just needed to get to that and do all right so it wasn’t my last one. You’re counting the days, thinking hurry up, hurry up. Longest weekend of my life.”

Too right. How many of you have felt that way too especially when you’ve fouled up, be it a game of football, a game of golf or whatever? You just want to put it right, get back on the course or the pitch and have another go and hope to flush away the disappointment? This week, after the derby draw, was no different I just wanted another league game to quickly come along so we could do better. Which is why in some ways today’s FA Cup tie with Everton is about as welcome as an angry wasp in a spacesuit!

Don’t get me wrong, this is not an attempt to belittle the FA Cup, enough people have done that already. Nor should it ever be seen as an attempt to do the same to Merseyside derbies. However because of the league situation, what competition would you rather be playing in this weekend? Try as hard as one might to “big up” the cup and who knows we may have to if we are still in it and league form collapses, it is the league where the interest lies at present? On the positive side the cup could be seen as a nice break, a distraction. The trouble is we are playing Everton! It’s the last thing we need, we’ve just played them and it’s too bigger a game for… well the timing just seems all wrong!

Reports suggest that Gerrard will play and Mascherano makes a welcome return. However, with Wigan in midweek in mind and Chelsea next Sunday, it seems changes will be made with Dossena and Calverio set to start? It’s a sad sign of the times that teams, including ourselves, should consider fielding weakened teams even for a tie of this magnitude, tradition and one that stokes up such passion?

One person who could possibly do without the cut, thrust and intensity of yet another derby is Steven Gerrard. Even though he scored on Monday it’s obviously been an up and down week because of Friday’s appearance at Sefton Magistrates. However, Rafa was keen to stress that it isn’t getting to his captain.

“He showed the other week that he has a responsibility to the fans and the club. He is a very good professional and showed he can concentrate on the job and he knows he has our full support.”

Prediction? It is difficult to say given that we probably won’t be at full strength. Everton are suffering with injures and suspension but still did enough on Monday to suggest that we shouldn’t make too many changes. Indeed I hope this doesn’t backfire on Rafa as it did last year against Barnsley even though this game sparked a great run in the league? Nonetheless regardless of the circumstances I would never predict an Everton win! 2-1.

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