Everton will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to 9 games when they travel to London to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton Preview
By Eoin Leeson
The game comes less than 72 hours since we beat Wolfsburg 2-0 to qualify for the next round of the Europa League as group winners with a game to spare.
It was a stellar defensive performance and we counter attacked in style. Kevin Mirallas played in Romelu Lukaku and the big Belgian finished brilliantly making it 1-0. Lukaku then repaid the favour by setting up his fellow countryman who turned Luis Gustavo inside out before dispatching his shot into the bottom corner.
The game proved that we can play a number of different styles whether it is our typical flowing attacking, a defensive approach, like away at Lille, or similarly, counter attacking from a defensive position like we saw on Thursday.
Lukaku seems to be really hitting form and signs of a scoring spree starting are definitely showing. His partnership with Mirallas was electric and it would be super to see that continue. Luke Garbutt played the full match, did well and it was great to see another youngster progressing.
It’s a very big game on Sunday as the win will move us into 7th, keep our momentum going and gain us an important win over a team that will be one of our main rivals for a European place come May.
Our opponents, Spurs, also qualified for the next round of the Europa League on Thursday and will be hoping their record of 3 defeats and 1 win in post Europa League games doesn’t continue against us.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side sit one place below us in 10th thanks to a season that has seen just two home wins, players not buying into the new manger’s style and the constant struggle after European games.
One of Spurs’ big plus points is their ability to gain something in matches from losing positions. They did it 17 times last season, a Premier League high, and have already beaten Hull and Aston Villa and drawn with Arsenal after being behind.
Pochettino is known for his intensive, high pressing style of play but the Spurs players have failed to adopt his methods so far. There is a lackadaisical feel to their game and at times they do look all over the place.
As average as they may seem as a team, they do have some top players that we will need to keep an eye on. Christian Eriksen is their star man and he has saved them a few times already this season. Harry Kane and Nacer Chadli are in the form of their lives and are Spurs’ main goal threats.
The talented Ryan Mason’s emergence has been a big positive for Spurs and his influence in midfield could prove important especially if James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are still injured. Finally there is Hugo Lloris, one of the league’s best goalkeepers and someone who could frustrate us during the game.
Our two clashes with Spurs last season saw Emmanuel Adebayor score in a 1-0 triumph for Spurs at White Hart Lane while the Goodison fixture ended 0-0.
Steven Naismith, Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar and Barry all have a reasonable chance of making the match while James McCarthy is more of a doubt after being taken off against Wolfsburg with a hamstring complaint. Darron Gibson, Antolin Alcaraz, John Stones and Bryan Oviedo are all progressing well but won’t be involved.
Arouna Kone will be hoping to be part of the squad after getting back in first team contention with a place on the bench in midweek. Seamus Coleman should be handed a recall to the first team after being benched for the win in Germany.
Spurs are without Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton through injury and suspension respectively but any six of Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Andros Townsend, Chadli or Danny Rose could feature.
TOTTENHAM LIKELY LINE UP: Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies, Stambouli, Mason, Lennon, Eriksen, Lamela, Kane (4-2-3-1)
EVERTON LIKELY LINE UP: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Besic, Osman, Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku (4-2-2-2)
While Everton will be hoping that Spurs continue to suffer post Europa League and White Hart Lane trouble, a game against Spurs is never easy and we’ve just returned from a tough game in Germany. This has draw written all over it.
PREDICTION: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton.