With just five points separating third- and tenth-place in the Premier League table, the margin for error is very narrow this weekend. Everton sit in 6th, with the three teams directly above them just three points ahead. Conversely, a slip-up could see a number of the sides behind them leapfrogging the Blues too.
Tottenham have been on a good run of form since their thrashing at the hands of their cross-town rivals Arsenal. New coach Andre Villas-Boas has his team playing some free-flowing football, and with Jermain Defoe having rediscovered his goalscoring form, they have also been pumping in the goals. However, Spurs will be missing their speedy left winger Gareth Bale, who is reportedly trying out for the Welsh diving team this weekend. All jokes aside though, the Londoners have an excellent midfield pair in Moussa Dembele and Sandro, who provide both bulk and vision to their side.
Team News -
David Moyes dropped a hint that both Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman have 'outside chances' of being fit to play in this game. Phil Neville is still recovering from his knee surgery while Victor Anichebe remains out with his hamstring ailment.
For AVB, centerback Michael Dawson is struggling to regain fitness and could miss the game. Also out are the above-mentioned Bale, Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul.
Keys To The Game -
Everton simply have to start winning more games at home, no matter who the opposition. With Bale missing this game, this is an excellent opportunity for Moyes to exploit his absence down Everton's right. If Mirallas is fit to play even one half, he is capable of causing enough chaos in that time to make starting him worthwhile. Darron Gibson and Leon Osman will be otherwise occupied keeping the Spurs midfield quiet. Steven Pienaar has been on a road to redemption lately, and the Toffees will need another stellar game from him tomorrow. Which leaves striker Nikica Jelavic, whose slump has now extended to eight games with just one goal in that period. He will have to dig deep and find a way to break out of it because Everton's fortunes seem tied to his goals.
For Spurs, they will attempt more of the same from their last few games. AVB has his team playing like the excellent Porto side that he managed a few years ago, and should be an excellent spectacle for the fans at the stadium. He had fielded a strong side on Thursday against Panathanaikos in the Europa League, so it will be interesting to see if he delves into his squad for their visit to Everton. Tom Huddlestone is one player tipped for England team glory but his star has faded in recent years, while Gylfi Sigurdsson has become an important piece of their midfield since his move from Swansea City. Clint Dempsey will be expected to take Bale's spot on the left wing while Aaron Lennon will be on the right.
Match Facts -
- Everton's next goal will be their 1,000th scored in the Premier League, the seventh side to do so.
- However, they have also conceded 998 goals, and are two away from that millenial mark.
- The Blues have won, four, drawn nine and lost seven of their last twenty against Spurs.
- There hasn't been an away winner in these contests since Everton in November 2008.
- Spurs have scored 43% of their 15 away goals between the 70th and 80th minute.
- However, they are yet to score a goal after the 80th minute in the Premier League this season.