Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur: Match preview
Stadium: Goodison Park
Referee: Kevin Friend
Kick-off: 8:30 PM (IST), Sunday, 9th of December
After an especially bright start to their season, Everton have tailed off in recent times and now sit in seventh place, three points behind their opponents for today’s fixture. However, if they do manage to win the game against the Spurs, something they have done just once in their past nine fixtures, they will leapfrog Arsenal, West Brom, and Tottenham, straight into fourth spot, just three points behind Chelsea. With the rare opportunity of Champions League football at stake, the Toffees will certainly want to wrap up a win in front of their home fans, and make ground in the race for fourth spot.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have bounced back remarkably from their crushing defeat in the north London derby, and have secured AVB’s job, at least in the short term, with three league wins on the trot. They have the opportunity to pull clear of West Brom, and the rest of the chasing pack with a win here, which would take them level on points with Chelsea, who recorded their first win in eight league games last night. All to play for, for both teams.
Everton: W L D D D
As already noted, Everton are stuck in a rut, with just ten points from a possible 27 with their last nine fixtures producing seven draws, a loss, and a win. Even more strikingly, their last three fixtures have all been 1 – 1 draws, proving that they’re a side that have the heart and the desire to be better, but just cannot seem to find that extra spark. It is no secret that Jelavic’s dip in form is the most probable reason for their woes up front, but Fellaini has done exceedingly well to cover for it. In terms of numbers, the hosts have not kept a clean sheet in their last 11 fixtures, and will be praying that they end up scoring more than what their opponents do. Their prayers will only be emboldened into hope by the fact that they have scored at least once in each of their last 13 fixtures.
Tottenham Hotspur: D W W W W
A good run of results has seen Tottenham bounce from mid table apathy into the top four of the Premier League. This has been largely thanks to the relentless efforts at target by Jermain Defoe, who now has five goals in his last four fixtures, including a brace each against West Ham and Fulham. With Dembele back to full fitness, and Parker nearing a return to the first team, things look on the up for the cockerels, but the injury to star performer, Bale, serves as a dampener. They have scored an impressive 11 times in their last four fixtures though, and have kept two clean sheets in their last five. So it will be a fairly optimistic AVB that pens down the tactics and sends out his men onto the pitch at Goodison Park.
Everton: Phil Neville, Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas, Seamus Coleman.
Tottenham Hotspur: Benoit Assou Ekotto, Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson, Gareth Bale, Scott Parker.
The Belgian with the fancy hair has been in unstoppable form for the Merseysiders, as five goals in five games prove. He has been at the centre of most things good for Everton, scoring all their goals in draws with Fulham, Arsenal, and Manchester City, in addition to setting up one and scoring one in a 2 – 1 win over Sunderland. Thus, if there’s something creative to be produced going forward from the home team, expect this man to be involved in some manner. His detractor for this game is likely to be the equally physical Sandro who has already done well against the likes of Yaya Toure and Kevin Nolan. Thus, it shall be a stern test of Fellaini’s ability to manouver the ball.
Moussa Dembele vs Leon Osman
With Gareth Bale missing on the left flank, and Aaron Lennon facing Leighton Baines on the right flank, the smart money would be on Tottenham channeling most of their attacks through the middle. Considering how Dempsey is yet to hit the form he displayed for Fulham last year, it is his counterpart, Dembele who is likely to be more of a threat going forward. The Belgian only played 15 minutes of the midweek encounter and is well rested for his tussle with Leon Osman. The experienced campaigner knows how to handle fiery, physical midfielders like Dembele, but whether Dembele manages to get the better of him should make for an interesting watch.
A clash of tactics, with the home team having a slight advantage. On a night where all eyes are likely to be fixed on the monstrous Manchester derby, David Moyes and Villas Boas will have their own little tactical war fought out on Merseyside. Tottenham are without the influential Gareth Bale though, and Moyes certainly has enough experience to make sure that his team makes the most of his absence. It should be an interesting battle then, for the title of ‘best of the rest’.