BG: So LE, how are your scars from last December doing? Is the Spurs defense still having nightmares about conceding late goals during important matches?
LE: My scars are doing just fine. It was a heartbreaking loss, no doubt about it. But Spurs bounced back in brilliant fashion, going undefeated in their next 12 games. And it looks like we've learned our lesson with those late goals and cut them out of our system.
What about Everton? When we last parted ways, we were level on points, with Everton sitting in 4th place. Now you're staring three places and six points up the table. What happened to y'all?
BG: We are poor poor people. Our starting lineup is fantastic, but as soon as injuries or suspensions hit things begin to go downhill. It also didn't help that we decided to play "draw every crap team we play for 2 straight months'. Throw in the suspense after David Moyes refused to talk about a contract extension until the end of the season, and it could be a lot worse. We could be behind Liverpool.
But enough about the poors. Gareth Bale has been doing things like scoring goals and running rampant. What makes you think this isn't just a temporary great run of form? If I remember correctly he went wild when y'all were actually in the Champions League, but even then a certain Phil Neville was able to effectively defend him.
LE: Gareth Bale has jumped to a new level in the past few months. Not even Phil Neville can stop him now (especially since AVB plays him in the center behind the striker instead of out wide). I think at this point he's been doing such insane things with a football so consistently over a period of several months, that you can't just write it off as a temporary anomaly. He's finally becoming the real deal in a way that he only hinted at when tearing apart Inter in the Champions League.
You're lucky he wasn't playing the last time we met. You won't be so fortunate this weekend.
Who do you have to be your game changer? If I'm not mistaken, Fellaini and Pienaar will both be watching the match from the stands.
BG: Phil Neville can't defend a wet paper bag anymore, but maybe Gareth Bale would just dive over him in that case.
Even with Fellaini and Pienaar available, the keys to this game are still the same. It is all about getting Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman forward. You are certainly familiar with both, and if they can get forward, it will force AVB to try and defend both flanks at the same time. Teams have had some success double teaming Baines on the left, but that has left Coleman free to get forward in spectacular fashion. If we don't have success on the flanks it will be a long day for Everton until we get a ridiculous goal or two like last time out.
The good news for y'all is that we could play 3 in the back. How is that whole striker thing going for you guys? Has Adebayor been told he's supposed to move to play soccer?
LE: Our fullbacks have been very much a weak point this season, and the guys ahead of them like Holtby, Sigurdsson, and Dempsey don't provide a lot of defensive protection in wide areas. I am fairly terrified of what Baines and Coleman and Mirallas can do to us this weekend.
As for Adebayor, his Berbatovian behavior is drastically overstated. If there's one thing he's been excellent at this season, it's his movement. The trouble is, he's been absolutely horrible at literally everything else strikers are supposed to do. Especially the part where they score goals. On the other hand we have Defoe, who seems to score goals every now and again, but doesn't really do anything else.
In other news, since we began this conversation, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale have both decided to get hurt. 24 hours ago I felt great about this match. Now I want to curl in a ball and weep. I assume your prognosis for the match has changed as well?
BG: It sounds like we both have a case of incompetent strikers this season, but that isn't anything new for either side.
The good news for you guys is that Mirallas is touch and go with an injury, so even if he plays he won't be 100% fit. While the wonderful media is going to be bitching about the loss of Bale, I'm more excited about the loss of Lennon. His is defensive work is what would have made life difficult for Baines. Now I think AVB may need to double team him the entire match with inferior players. I should be more excited than I am, but every Evertonian is thinking back to our 3-0 shellacking by Wigan, and until the final whistle blows for everton to get three points, I'm always going to be cautious.
What is AVB going to do with the loss of Lennon and Bale? is this going to kill any wide play from Spurs? Or should I just assume something stupid is going to happen to make me throw things at my tv?
LE: This will almost certainly kill any wide play from Spurs. Our only senior winger is on loan at QPR. All we have left are guys like Holtby, Siggy, and Deuce who can nominally play wide but actually can't play wide. We're going to have no width and Baines and Coleman will probably run rampant. The only silver lining is that your strikers may be even worse than ours, and hopefully this means nobody will be able to finish the chances your wide players create.
Tell me more about Moyes three at the back experiment he's been playing with. Who does he think he is, Roberto Mancini?
Head on over to Cartilage Free Captain to get their views on Sunday's match. The second part of my talk with LE can be found here.