Everton's upturn in form due to goalscoring form, says Steve Round

 

Assistant manager Steve Round believes Everton's recent upturn in goalscoring form puts them in a good position for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final derby against Liverpool at Wembley.

The Toffees have scored 12 times in their last five matches, including four against Sunderland on Easter Monday all from different players.

During that run January signing Nikica Jelavic has scored four, Victor Anichebe two, with Magaye Gueye, Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Leighton Baines also on target.

By contrast, Liverpool have found the net seven times in their last five games.

"We are delighted with the current form, we are playing well and scoring goals," said Round.

"Nikica has had a great impact for us. He looks a top quality striker and when we did give him a breather it was good to see Denis Stracqualursi lead the line so well.

"Goals are coming from everywhere. Victor has got a couple in the last two, the likes of Leon Osman scoring more - we can get goals from other places.

"We are always a threat on set-plays; Marouane Fellaini is always likely to get one and I think Tim Cahill is ready to start scoring again and that is a very pleasing aspect.

"I have seen the players step up more (recently) but I don't think it is with the semi-final in mind, I think it is just the momentum and confidence which has been building.

"I do see the players improving week in, week out and that can only be a good thing at the moment."

Everton's last trip to Wembley was in 2009 for their FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea - which was their first since 1996 - while Liverpool were there as recently as February when they beat Cardiff to lift the Carling Cup.

However, Round does not think that put the Toffees at a disadvantage.

"We have a lot of players with a lot of experience - John Heitinga has played in a World Cup final - and we have players who have played in big games, big arenas and that stands you in good stead," he added.

"I have been to many semi-finals and a few finals and it does help you to have that experience because you know what to expect.

"Because you are not going in there blind, you understand you have to play the game and not the occasion.

"I don't think we feel we are underdogs but we do feel Liverpool are probably just slight favourites.

"But the gap has closed dramatically and we are almost on an even keel.

"I think Liverpool just have the edge and I think the bookmakers will see it that way but our boys have steel in their eyes at the moment."

Everton have lost twice to their rivals this season, including a 3-0 defeat at Anfield last month when manager David Moyes rested a number of players ahead of their quarter-final tie at home to Sunderland, and won just one of their last six encounters.

But Round feels a Wembley semi-final presents a different scenario.

"I think the team have massive determination regardless of previous results," he said.

"It is Liverpool and when you play them you are right up for the game and you want to play as well as you can possibly play.

"On top of that, with it being a semi-final, it adds more to the enthusiasm you will give to the game.

"Every single player is desperate to play and desperate to try to win for Everton."

PA

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