In a season that has thrown up the weird and wonderful, Everton becoming the first team in a year to shut out Manchester City at the Etihad has to be up there in the unlikely pile.
They’ve been a defensive car crash this season, more evidence being produced against Swansea on Sunday, but just two weeks after that clean sheet they return to the scene with a 2-1 lead in this semi-final tie, knowing a replica result will see them into their first League Cup final since 1984.
Roberto Martinez will doubtless have tried to convince his players to take confidence from that goalless Premier League draw but deep down they will all know they were a tad fortunate. City had a cast-iron penalty claim turned down in the last minute, while had Tim Howard not enjoyed one of his better days they’d have already been trailing at that stage.
Howard won’t be in goal for this clash (both second-string keepers will start) but of more significance is the fact that Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas will be missing for the visitors. They have been two of the Toffees’ more influential players in recent weeks and even the return of Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy seems unlikely to make up for their absence.
City have plenty of injury issues of their own right now, too, although most are long-term problems they are learning to deal with.
Vincent Kompany is still among those – for another two weeks according to boss Manuel Pellegrini – and as long as he remains missing from the backline, opponents will fancy their chances of finding the net.
With Everton having proved they have plenty of goals in their locker, both teams to score has to be a strong consideration for those happy to play at a short price. It’s been a rich mine of profit in Everton games over the past few months.