After a turbulent week in which Everton were humbled in the Merseyside derby before pulling off a superb comeback victory over Aston Villa, Sunday's game against Champions League rivals Tottenham Hotspur sticks out as one of the Blues' most significant tests of the season so far.
Just one point separates the two sides in the Premier League table, and with fellow top four chasers Liverpool facing a tough match up against Arsenal this weekend, a win for Everton could see Roberto Martinez's side move above their local rivals once again.
There was good news on the injury front for Everton this week, as Barcelona starlet Gerard Deulofeu was deemed fit to travel with the squad for the first time in nearly two months. The Toffees have missed the forward's pace and ingenuity of late, and his return will boost the attacking options available from Martinez's bench. New signing Lacina Traore could also make his first Everton appearance, after recovering from the hamstring injury that saw him miss last weekend's win over Villa.
Elsewhere, Seamus Coleman will likely return to the starting line up, while Ross Barkley should benefit from another week in training following his early recovery from a broken toe. Arouna Kone, Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo and Romelu Lukaku will all miss the game through injury.
Tottenham will welcome winger Andros Townsend back into their squad after several weeks out, and will have to wait to see if Sandro and Vlad Chiriches can overcome knocks in time to feature. Otherwise, Tim Sherwood's squad will be at full strength, aside from the continued absence of record signing Erik Lamela through injury.
Keys to the Game
The Tottenham team that Everton will face on Sunday bears little resemblance to the side managed by Andre Villas Boas that played out a dire 0-0 draw at Goodison Park earlier in the season. New manager Tim Sherwood's adoption of an attacking 4-4-2 system has lead the lilywhites to pose a greater threat going forward, but as Manchester City showed in their 5-1 drubbing of Spurs at the Etihad last week, the shift in style may have come at the cost of defensive solidity.
Seamus Coleman's return from injury has come at just the right time, as Everton's defence will need to be at its best to contend with the intimidating front four of Christian Eriksen, Aaron Lennon, Roberto Soldado and Emanuel Adebayor, and Gareth Barry and James McCarthy may need to sit deeper than usual to assist Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin at the back.
If Ross Barkley can find his form again, his exploitation of Spurs' undermanned midfield could prove crucial to the Blues' chances. Kevin Mirallas' forward play may also benefit against a more attacking side.
- Everton have lost just two of their last 13 Premier League meetings with Spurs.
- The first match between the two sides occurred 110 years ago this week, when Spurs beat Everton at Goodison Park in the FA Cup.
- This will be the 167th meeting between the clubs. Everton trail with 55 wins to Tottenham's 60, while the sides have played out 51 draws