Everton at Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview

Can Jelavic repeat his heroics this Sunday? - Stu Forster

Everton travel to White Hart Lane to take on hosts Tottenham in a game that should certainly have some bearing on who makes the Champions League and who stays at home.

Tomorrow's game might be overshadowed by who's not playing more than the players who do line up in London in this feature clash. Everton stole all three points the last time the two sides met at Goodison Park, but since then Tottenham have maintained their top billing while Everton have struggled to stay in touch. However, this weekend sees Spurs without talismanic forward Gareth Bale, as well as winger Aaron Lennon, striker Jermaine Defoe and defender William Gallas. Everton for their part are hurting too, with both Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar serving suspensions and the lightning-fast Kevin Mirallas not fully-fit either.

David Moyes won the March Premier League Manager of the Month award, one which Blues fans didn't really expect as they wallowed in the misery brought upon by their untimely and inglorious departure from the FA Cup, but the Cup matters not in the reckoning for this award. The feeling is that there could not have been a better time to go to Spurs and pick their pockets, but Moyes is going to have to overcome the loss of two important cogs in his Everton machine too.

Team News -

Tony Hibbert remains the only long-term casualty on the Toffees, with doubts being raised if he will even play again this season. Kevin Mirallas aggravated his groin during his spectacular, lung-bursting run against Stoke last weekend to net the winner, and will face a late fitness test.

Apart from the players mentioned above, Andre Villas-Boas will also be missing Younes Kaboul and Sandro for Sunday's game. With a shortage of wingers on the side, he will be forced to play two or possibly all three of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey and boyhood Everton fan Lewis Holtby in wide positions to support sole striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Moussa Dembele in the middle of the park could be a key man without Fellaini to neutralize his fellow Belgian, and Darron Gibson could have his hands full with the midfielder.

Keys To The Game -

It is doubtful that Moyes will go again with the 3-4-3/3-5-2 from last weekend, with no special advantage to be gained from it. Expect more of a vanilla 4-4-2 with Mirallas on the left wing and Steven Naismith on the right, and a front pairing of Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe. However, if Mirallas is not ready to play, that could be the proverbial wrench in the works, and Moyes could be forced to give Bryan Oviedo a starting spot. Any success for Everton will come from Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman going deep and the strikers converting the resulting chances.

With no pace advantage whatsoever, Villas-Boas will look to win the game via possession. Spurs made a name for themselves accumulating midfielders this season, and a majority of them could get a look-in tomorrow with Jake Livermore and Scott Parker set to retain their spots in the middle of the field as well. Adebayor has been in woeful form but Dempsey has had success at Fulham playing behind the lead man and could feed off the scraps there.

Match Facts -

  • Everton have won three League games in a row, a first since January 2010.
  • The Blues have gained 21 points from losing positions, second only to Manchester United's 27.
  • Everton last did a League double over Spurs in 1986, before the Premier League was founded.
  • Tottenham have scored first in 61% of their games, second only to Chelsea's 63%.
  • No team has lost more Premier League games in April than the lily-whites, with 35.
  • Spurs have scored 22 times at home this season, worst among teams in the top half.
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