Man City is the biggest game of Martinez’ two and a half years at Everton. Not only are the fans fed up with the results at the moment, but the media have caught on to how mediocre our results have been in the last 18 months. The pressure is increasing but our League Cup run has given light in our increasingly dark season. If we are knocked out on Wednesday then it will tip a lot of fans who remain on the fence in favour of wanting Martinez to leave the club. A win and we will be looking at the best chance to end this barren period in our history since the FA Cup final in 2009.
The first leg leaves Everton in that difficult mental position of knowing that a draw will do, which is always a dangerous thought, especially away to such a good team. Everton need to go out there and play their natural game but with the defensive solidarity that we saw in the first leg, a solidarity that seems to happen when Joel Robles is in goal. Both teams set up with the same formation and will go toe-to-toe. I’d hope we could play out a boring 0-0 but I don’t think anyone expects that to happen.
The biggest positive in terms of team news is the aforementioned return of Robles, the defenders look more composed in front of him and John Stones’ best performance in recent weeks was in the first leg when he didn’t have to worry about Howard. A hugely important comeback was the one of Seamus Coleman. When Coleman got injured I called him the 2nd most important player in our team behind Lukaku as we have no back-up for him, and that’s seems to have been proven with Ovideo played awkwardly out of position. The biggest negative is the injury to Besic, not only has he been playing well but his absence could lead to the return of Kone with Cleverley played centrally. Hopefully McCarthy is fit and Cleverley can move out left instead. Pienaar’s return hopefully puts him ahead of Kone now in the wide left pecking order, but that remains to be seen.
Regardless of where we are in the league, getting to a cup final would give the whole club a lift. The opposite almost doesn’t bear thinking about. Evertonians are on the brink with their patience and Martinez needs to start winning, and quickly. This time last season we were in a similar position but had the excuse of ‘2nd season syndrome’ and there was still the proverbial credit in the bank from the season before. That doesn’t exist anymore. A cup win not only gives us silverware but also a route back into Europe. Going through on Wednesday night will keep the wolves from the door until the final. It’s Martinez’ biggest game since arriving at Everton, it’s not just a semi-final, it’s his judgement day.