In Review

End of an era looms for Chelsea - can Everton kill them off?

FA Cup showdown finds both clubs drinking in the last-chance saloon after a season of disappointments

The FA Cup and Premier League share top billing this weekend, with seven top-flight teams in the last eight of the cup and five league matches taking place, culminating with the critical clash between title favourites Leicester City and a post-Steve McClaren Newcastle United on Monday.

But although the Foxes have the chance to take another big step towards the Premier League crown, the game of the weekend is the cup clash between Everton and Chelsea, billed by the London Evening Standard as the "biggest FA Cup tie of the Roman Abramovich era".

"For Chelsea, the FA Cup provides a last hope of salvation," says the paper. "A team so used to winning silverware have failed to produce in the other three competitions and face the biggest anti-climax to their campaign should they have nothing to play for with two months remaining."

Defeat to Everton would not only leave them without any silverware, it could also deprive them of European football next season, which could, in turn, prompt an exodus of stars and hinder Chelsea's chances of landing any big name replacements in the transfer window.

"Winning the FA Cup is a must to save a desperate season that has the feel of the end of an era for London's Blues," says Guy Mowbray of the BBC.

Everton are in a similar situation, even if the expectations at Goodison Park tends to be somewhat lower than at Stamford Bridge. But that does not mean the Toffees would accept defeat.

Roberto Martinez's side have been impressive at times this season but have become adept at shooting themselves in the foot. Martinez "heads to Goodison Park with the simmering tension at poor results ready to reach boiling point," writes Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph. "In the past, he has been adept at securing good results when most needed and if he has a Wembley date secure much of the current criticism will – temporarily, at least – be in hold."

Everton boast talents including Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku - "how the Chelsea hierarchy must regret letting Lukaku leave for £28m in 2014," notes the Standard - yet they have won only four league games at home this season, a return that is "unacceptable", says David Prentice in the Liverpool Echo.

What's more, the club have new owners. "Everton are about to enter a new era with a new major shareholder," writes Prentice. "And new owners want quick returns. We are told Farhad Moshiri will be at Goodison Park on Saturday – and a visit to Wembley for an FA cup semi-final from his very first match is a surefire way to win friends and influence people."

A failure to impress could mean bad news for Martinez, who is likely to be without Bryan Oviedo and Aaron Lennon as well as Kevin Mirallas.

Chelsea, though, face greater problems, as both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard could be missing, along with John Terry. So although Chelsea are away specialists and Everton serial losers at home, the Toffees should be favourites to progress.

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