White Hart Lane, Sunday Feb 9, 2014, kick-off 13.30pm
Tottenham face a massive challenge this weekend in what defender Jan Vertonghen described as “one of the biggest games of our season.” Not only do Tottenham face an opposition that is too battling for the top four place, but a side that they have had relative success against this season, after a draw at Goodison Park under AVB.
Tottenham have won just two of their last 13 Premier League matches against Everton. They first met 110 years ago this week, with Spurs winning an FA Cup tie at Goodison Park. Sunday’s game will be the 167th meeting between the clubs. Tottenham lead by 60 wins to Everton’s 55, with 51 draws.
Spurs are two points better off than at the same stage last season, when they went on to record the most points (72) by a team finishing fifth in a 38-game top-flight campaign. They have scored in all eight Premier League games under Tim Sherwood, winning five, drawing two and losing once. Only the current top three clubs have earned more points in the same period. However, Spurs have only earned 11 points from their last 10 home fixtures (W3, D3, L4). Tottenham have gained the fewest points (2) in home matches between the top seven teams this season. They are yet to lose a league game from a winning position this season.
Everton’s tally of 45 points after 24 matches is their best since 1986-87, when they had 47 points. The Toffees have conceded a league-high six penalties this season. Roberto Martinez’ side have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches, although their overall record of 25 goals conceded is bettered only by Chelsea and Arsenal. Leighton Baines has yet to register a Premier League assist this season; he trails goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has one assist. Kevin Mirallas has scored in three of his last four league appearances.
Injury wise, Tottenham have Erik Lamela (thigh), Sandro (calf) and Vlad Chiriches (unspecified) out with individual injuries but do have some positives in the form of returning players. Tim Sherwood confirmed that Andros Townsend will be returning to the squad this weekend. Everton have several problems of their own. Alcaraz (muscle fatigue), Gibson, Koné (both knee), Lukaku (ankle), Oveido (broken leg) all miss out through some nasty injuries themselves.
This should be a very close game and I can only see a draw coming from it. Although Everton looked awful against their Merseyside counterparts not long ago, they are still strong and have a very tactically aware manager who will know how to restrict Spurs. AVB himself used a very defensive approach in order not to lose last time around, however I expect Sherwood to approach this from the complete other end of the spectrum.
Predicted Score: Spurs 1-1 Everton
Predicted XI: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho, Eriksen, Townsend; Soldado, Adebayor. (4-4-2)
Graphic designed by @ModernFooty