While a place in the top four of the Premier League remains a genuine possibility this season for Everton, who sit six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, some might say the FA Cup could serve as a distraction for the Toffees in their bid for Champions League football next term.
But that certainly doesn’t appear to be the view of boss David Moyes, who has resisted fielding weakened teams in the last two rounds of the competition despite facing lower league opposition in the shape of Cheltenham Town and Bolton Wanderers.
The Toffees saw off those two sides 5-1 and 2-1 respectively away from home and are on their travels once again this weekend as they head to a struggling Oldham Athletic side that currently sit two points adrift of safety in the League One drop zone.
However, Moyes and his players won’t take their hosts lightly after they secured their place in the fifth round with a 3-2 victory at home to Liverpool, whose side included the likes of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge from the beginning.
They also recorded a rare league success last weekend as they saw off MK Dons 3-1 at Boundary Park, ending a run of nine league matches without a win, eight of which were defeats, costing Paul Dickov his job as he resigned just under two weeks ago.
Unsurprisingly, the Premier League side are big odds-on favourites to defeat their managerless hosts and book a place in the quarter finals at 7/20, with the draw at 4/1, while another Latics shock is priced at 27/4 in the bwin 3way football betting market.
Everton head into the game on the back of a 2-0 reverse against league leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday evening, their first defeat since the turn of the year, ending a run of seven matches without defeat for the Blues.
One player Moyes will know all about is Oldham attacker Jose Baxter, who turned down the option of a new deal at the Toffees in the summer in search of regular football, having come through the youth ranks at Goodison Park as a bright prospect.
The 21-year-old has been in fine goalscoring form this season, notching 11 goals in total, and is worth considering at 5/2 to find the net at some point in the game, particularly given the fact that Everton have recorded just five clean sheets in all competitions this term.
That said, Oldham have shut their opponents out just five times in their 31 league matches, which would suggest goals are on the cards.
Punters who believe the game will feature over 3.5 goals, as has been the case in the Latics’ last two FA Cup outings, can back this eventuality at 29/20.
Everton left-back Leighton Baines has found the net four times in his last eight appearances for the Blues, two of which came from the spot (plus one free-kick), and he could be worth backing at 11/4 to add to his tally of seven for the season with a goal at any time.
With arguably the best squad of players Moyes has had at his disposal since joining the club, don’t expect to see a repeat of Oldham’s 1-0 win at Goodison Park in this competition in 2008, with the Toffees likely to put in a professional performance to secure a win.
Five of their ten league victories this season have ended with 2-1 successes, as was the case in the previous round against Bolton, so backing a Toffees victory of either 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 in the multiple correct score market at 3/1 looks a very attractive option – and that’s where my money will be going.