FA Cup preview: Hull City vs Everton - A tie which could spell the end for both managers

Unloved and unwanted, Rafa Benitez and Grant McCann will be hoping the magic of the cup brings some much-needed respite on Saturday evening.

Two managers on borrowed time meet at the KCOM on Saturday evening when Championship side Hull entertain Everton in the third round of the FA Cup.

It is touch and go whether Hull's long-running takeover saga will be completed in time for Saturday's encounter, with Turkish entrepreneur Acun Ilicali set to take the reins from the reviled Allam family.

Ilicali is thought to favour bringing in his own man to replace Grant McCann who has only partially restored his reputation after relegation in his first season at the helm in East Yorkshire.

The League One title followed last season but with the Tigers in the lower reaches of the Championship again, the Northern Irishman will not be missed should Ilicali's first task be to dish out a P45.

Rafael Benitez, too, looks to be a dead man walking with injuries to key players only partly mitigating an alarming slide down the Premier League table and run of one win in 12.

When: Saturday, January 8, 17.30 GMT

Where: MKM Stadium

Follow this game via our score centre

Both teams coming into the game on the back of defeats

Dominic Calvert-Lewin Everton Jan22

Hull City go into this game on the back of two defeats but prior to that had enjoyed a six-match unbeaten run which lifted them out of the Championship relegation zone.

The run came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, a match in which they led before being pegged back by a controversial penalty for which the referee's chief later apologised.

A COVID outbreak saw two games postponed over the festive period and they were under-cooked for a trip to Blackpool which they lost 1-0. Nevertheless they had more than enough chances to get at least a point from the game - something of the story of their season.

Everton welcomed Dominic Calvert-Lewin back for their home clash with Brighton at the weekend but despite two goals from 20-year-old Anthony Gordon were left empty-handed.

And, as well as just one win in 12 for the Toffees, it is just one clean sheet in 12. However, they have already made steps to address the problem, having signed two full-backs, Vitalii Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson, in the window.

Last meeting

Everton 4-0 Hull City 0 (March 18, 2017)

Given that Hull hadn't won at Goodison Park since 1952 this result wasn't unexpected.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Enner Valencia and a Romelu Lukaku brace sealed a comfortable Premier League win against a City side who were in the midst of something of a revival under Marco Silva.

Three wins in three came either side of this Toffees reverse but the Tigers ultimately suffered relegation back down to the Championship.

FA Cup form for Hull City and Everton

Hull bowed out in the second round on penalties to League Two side Stevenage last season and have twice exited the cup at the hands of Arsenal since their cup final defeat to the Gunners in 2014.

Chelsea have also knocked the Tigers out twice since their only cup final appearance.

The East Yorkshire side have not beaten a top-flight side in the FA Cup while outside the top division since a 1-0 win over West Ham in the fourth round in 1973.

Everton last reached the final in 2009 and have to go back to 1995 to the last time they lifted the trophy.

Last season they exited at the hands of Manchester City in the quarter-final, with late goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne condemning a full-strength Everton to a 2-0 defeat.

You only have to go back three years to the last time they bowed out to Championship side, with a 3-2 defeat to Millwall in 2019 sending them packing in the fourth round.

Past 10 meetings

Hull wins: 2

Draws: 2

Everton wins: 6

Hull scored: 10

Everton scored: 24

Calvert-Lewin's involvement a quandary for Benitez

Mallik Wilks Hull City Nov21

Hull look to be coming out the other side after their COVID outbreak but still have injury concerns, with Josh Magennis (hamstring) and Mallik Wilks (foot) set to miss out. It should give an opportunity for Tyler Smith to start up front. The former Sheffield United striker has made 14 appearances for the Tigers this season but has yet to score.

Goalscoring has been a problem across the board for the East Yorkshire side, with McCann's side failing to score in half of their 24 league games.

Keane Lewis-Potter Hull City Oct21

With few options in reserve, hot prospect Keane Lewis-Potter looks set to keep his place, while Tom Huddlestone will be hoping to roll back the years. The 35-year-old former Spurs midfielder was a free agent before rejoining the Tigers just after the start of the campaign.

For Everton, Alex Iwobi is on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Lucas Digne is not expected to be involved ahead of a move away from the club.

With Richarlison ruled out, Solomon Rondon is expected to lead the line for the visitors. Whether that is alongside a fit-again Calvert-Lewin remains to be seen.

The England striker is in desperate need of minutes after a long injury lay-off but whether he starts will depend very much on which risk Benitez thinks is greater: playing and suffering another injury setback or not playing, Everton bowing out and the Spaniard losing his job.

Championship survival the priority for Hull

Nathan Patterson Rangers Nov21

This has been earmarked as a potential shock, with the BBC cameras primed and the eyes of the nation set to descend on East Yorkshire over Saturday tea-time.

But given Hull's woeful record against top-flight sides in the competition - even when they reached the final they only beat one Premier League team and that was Sunderland - they may be disappointed.

The Tigers have Championship survival to focus on and already have ten games to squeeze in between this game and the end of February. They can ill-afford another with Championship survival on the line.

Everton, in contrast, can afford to give the FA Cup their full attention. They are still eight points clear of the relegation zone despite their recent slide. With defensive reinforcements in the shape of Mykolenko and Patterson, both of who should start here, and Calvert-Lewin to call on up front, they will be looking up rather than over their shoulders for the remainder of the campaign.

And, with Benitez desperately needing to restore the feelgood factor to the blue half of Liverpool, a prolonged FA Cup will be an ideal way to start winning over the haters. 

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are going to end another season empty-handed, claim bookies

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