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Everton at Tottenham Hotspur: Q&A with Cartilage Free Captain

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Battle of the Europa League hangovers

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

We had the pleasure of chatting with our fellow SB Nation blog, Cartilage Free Captain, for this weekend's Premier League game between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. Thank you to Bryan who took the time to answer our questions. Click here to read our responses on the Spurs blog too.

RBM - This season is one of parity in the Premier League. What were your expectations going into the season, and how have they changed now?
Spurs entered the season as outside contenders for the top 4 in my mind. Fifth place in the first season under Mauricio Pochettino seemed to be a pretty good goal and sixth would have been acceptable. However, with the "parity" or general shittiness of all teams not named Chelsea and Manchester City and my overall skepticism about Southampton's ability to sustain their current run, make me think that maybe, just maybe, Spurs could sneak into the top four with a good run of form. Even if they don't, I still think the Europa League places are a good goal.
RBM - Mauricio Pochettino is Tottenham's 10th manager in 12 years. What have you seen that you like so far, and what has you worried?
There's lots to like about Pochettino. He plays an attractive style of football that, when it works, puts a lot of pressure on opposing teams and make Spurs look really good. I also like that he has no qualms about giving young players the opportunity to prove themselves.
As far as things that worry me, Pochettino seems to struggle with a plan B. If his initial game plan isn't working, he has trouble changing the game. The biggest concern to me though is just how long it's taking Spurs to grasp Pochettino's system. Everton seemed to fit quickly into Roberto Martinez's style last year and Marseille, who played a very boring style of play last season (a la Tottenham under AVB) have adapted quickly to Marcelo Bielsa's pressing style. I have faith that the team will get it, but it's taking a lot longer than I anticipated.
RBM - What does the Spurs youth academy set up look like? Are there any players that will be breaking into the senior side soon?
Honestly, it's great. Better than it's been in decades. Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Kane, and Ryan Mason have all shown themselves to be solid Premier League players over the last two years. I think Kane and Bentaleb are the best of that group. I'm convinced Kane will be a star for years to come.
After that group there's some more exciting U-18's coming. Harry Winks made his first team debut on Thursday against Partizan and Milos Veljkovic is on loan at Middlesborough. Those two, and Alex Pritchard, who is also out on loan, are going to be the ones to watch going forward.
RBM - Who would you say are the best players on the squad so far? Are you expecting lots of activity in the January transfer window?
The best players this season have been Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, and Christian Eriksen. Everyone else has been pretty inconsistent.
I don't think Spurs will be that busy in January. Historically, we don't buy during the winter because Daniel Levy hates the inflated prices during that part of the year. If there are any purchases, they'll likely be of the bargain variety. I do, however, expect quite a few outgoing players in January. Spurs have a pretty bloated squad right now and four or more players could be shown the door. If we're lucky, Levy will quickly reinvest that money. 
RBM - Tottenham have two wins and four losses at White Hart Lane this season. How come their away form is better than their home record?
The cynical answer is because our home support is awful. Fans are, for whatever reason, unhappy with the way the club is being run and are showing that displeasure by just being bad fans. West Bromwich Albion's manager said our fans helped his side to their win at the Lane and Emmanuel Adebayor has said the players prefer to play on the road because the support is so bad.
The better answer, though, is that we've played a lot of home games following away trips in the Europa League, and, even though Pochettino rotates the squad heavily, there's still an evident malaise following those away trips.
RBM - Both Spurs and Everton play a 4-2-3-1 formation. Do you think the two will cancel each other out, or will it be end-to-end on Sunday?
While they're nominally the same formation, I think they'll play very differently. Tottenham play very narrow across the front and rely on pressing and quick counterattacks, while Everton get more width from their wide players and will attempt to hold possession. I wouldn't be surprised if Spurs sit a little deeper and invite Everton onto them, then turn up the pressure and try to catch them on the break.

RBM - Finally, a score prediction from you for the game? Which players (on either side) do you think will have a good game?

For Spurs, Hugo Lloris will have to be his usual amazing self and I think Christian Eriksen will continue to be good. For Everton, Romelu Lukaku will probably feast on our center backs and Kevin Mirallas always seems to cause Spurs problems. I'm not terribly confident in Spurs' form at the moment, so I'm gonna say this is an Everton win 2-1.