Sam Allardyce and Roberto Martinez are fully focused on Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay even though their respective sides are enduring tough league form.
West Ham welcome Everton to Upton Park having come within seconds of tying up progression and a fourth-round clash with Doncaster or Bristol City in the original game at Goodison Park – only for Romelu Lukaku to rescue a draw for Martinez’s Toffees.
Both teams have had minor recent blips with West Ham, having started the season in fine form, without a win in four and Everton, despite securing a 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City, sitting just three points off the relegation places.
Both managers could be forgiven, therefore, for seeing this replay as an annoyance as they look to build towards another weekend of Barclays Premier League fixtures and bring to an end their winless streaks – with Everton’s stretching back to December 15.
But Allardyce and Martinez will both fancy a cup run this season with strong squads at their disposal and the former is willing to name his strongest possible side – with their next league engagement coming against Hull on Sunday.
“I think we have sufficient recovery time in between games,” Allardyce replied when asked if the timing of the replay would impact on his team selection.
“Neither team will want extra time but the way we’ve recovered after games so far has been good, as we saw against Swansea after recovering against Everton (in the original tie).
“We have a few knocks and bruises but hopefully they’ll have cleared up by Tuesday morning”
West Ham’s current run is against the grain for the Hammers so far this year as they enjoyed a blistering start to the campaign and, although Allardyce is pleased with performance levels, he wants to see his side sure things up at the back.
“The results have dipped a bit but the performances haven’t,” he added.
“One thing that has to happen is we get to more resilient defensively. We’ve been talking about that all season.
“We’re becoming a much more creative side but our defensive weaknesses have been exploited too much.
“In order to win football games you need to make sure you’re strong enough in both departments. We’ve only had four clean sheets so far and that’s not good enough to keep you in the top six.”
Martinez takes his Everton side to east London buoyed by the late equaliser last week and ready for a game from which both teams will be looking to secure safe passage into round four.
“Draws are an emotionally tricky result in terms of how you feel about them,” he said of the Goodison Park stalemate.
“It’s still only a draw but when you are the team that gets the equaliser late in the game, it can feel like a victory. In the same way, when you concede late on, it can feel like a defeat.
“We’re pleased we have a replay to play. It was a proper cup game and I feel Tuesday will be exactly the same – two teams wanting to win and to score goals, that will make it really open.
“We always enjoy going to Upton Park and with our sold-out allocation once again, it’s one we look forward to.”