Everton vs Tottenham Preview

English Premier League | Sunday 3 January | Goodison Park | 18:00




The English Premier League will resume in the new year and a clash at Goodison Park between Everton and Tottenham is a great way to start 2016. The Toffees lie in 11th place and will be desperate to make their way back into the top half of the table. Spurs on the other hand, are one of the in-form teams in the league and will be eager to maintain their winning streak as they push for the Champions League places. 

To Win (90mins)
Everton 16/10
Draw 24/10
Tottenham 31/20

Everton

Everton fell to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Stoke City on Monday night in a thrilling seven- goal humdinger. It was a second straight home loss for Everton and a blow to their European hopes. Everton's industry and spirit are tough to question but they just can’t seem to maintain winning form. The Toffees had lost just once in eight league games before their defeat to Stoke but with no back-to-back wins in the league this season, something has got to change. 

Roberto Martinez sets out his side to dominate the ball as much as possible, but all their hard work in possession is being consistently undermined by a failure to keep things tight at the back. More worryingly however is that this is not merely a blip but rather a long-term trend under Martinez’s stewardship – and it’s getting worse. The Toffees are conceding an average of 1.41 goals per game so far this season, up from 1.31 last campaign. Martinez’s attacking philosophy is admirable and there is no doubt he has got the team playing some wonderful football. But what is the point if there is a lack of defensive organization and solidity.  

Everton’s squad is arguably the strongest it’s been in decades. The spine of their team – John Stones, James McCarthy, Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku – among the finest in the division. Deulofeu has been a constant threat on Everton’s wing. He has unbelievable pace and skill; with energy and agility to glide past opposing defenders with ease. Lukaku is one player that has thrived off the play of Deulofeu -the link -up between the two has been nothing short of phenomenal. The in-form Belgian forward is among the league's top scorers with 15 goals, including nine from his last 10 in all competitions. Nonetheless, I believe John Stones will be key to this encounter with Spurs. Everton need his composure, solidity, leadership and organisational skills to stop a rampant Tottenham side. The Englishman is one of the best defenders in the league and a £35million bid from Chelsea was a statement of just how highly Stones is rated. 



Tottenham


Son Heung-Min scored a dramatic late winner as Tottenham clinched a 2-1 victory over 10-man Watford last time out. The win made it three on the trot for Spurs, with seven goals scored and just one conceded in the process. Tottenham are in prime position to make a run at Champions League for the first time since 2010-11 and for just the third time in their history. But to do that, they need to grab points wherever they can. They have lost just one of their past 18 Premier League matches, winning nine, and this is the kind of form that could see them among Europes elite. 

Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham can win the Premier League title but wants his players to stay grounded after their win at Watford. In the modern game, Pochettino’s style of play is not a tremendous jump from some of the most popular tactics used by Spain, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and others. The underlying principal is simple – when in possession, patience and purpose in your passing is essential, while adding pace and dynamism on the attack. Without possession, persistence and pressure on a level you’ve never been asked to reach before. Under Pochettino, not all players need to know how to attack, but certainly, they all need to know how to defend. Hard work personifies the Pochettino mantra. Individual brilliance and skill are a fantastic outlet when the team is in offence, but without the desire, hunger and fitness to win the ball back you are below his standards. 

Tottenham have worked as a unit this season, and as a result, they are dark horses to win the league. Erik Lamela has scored four goals in his past five games in all competitions for Tottenham. The Argentine is probably in his best form for Spurs at the moment. Christian Eriksen is Tottenham’s main playmaker. He’s creativity and vision is astounding at times, while he also has an eye for goal. Harry Kane has ended 2015 as the most prolific goalscorer in the Premier League, bagging 27 goals, more than any other player. Kane, who scored 21 league goals last campaign during his breakthrough year, has overcome early season struggles by returning to goalscoring form for Spurs and has notched 11 times so far as Pochettino’s side break into the top four. 

Probable line-ups:

Everton: 4-3-3
Howard; Coleman, Stones, Mori, Baines; Barry, Barkley, Cleverly; Kone, Deulofeu, Lukaku

Tottenham: 4-2-3-1 

Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Alli, Lamela, Eriksen; Kane

Betting Verdict: DRAW 
Everton are without a win against Tottenham in the last six meetings. However, they can’t afford to drop any more points on their ground. The Toffees have not won at home since 21 November, a 4-0 win over Aston Villa. Spurs will look to exploit that, but Everton should be set up better defensively than they have in recent games. The sides played out to a goalless draw in the reverse tie and are tipped to share the spoils for the second time this season.  

Written by Aaron Crowie