It is impossible to talk about Everton at the moment without mentioning John Stones. The saga of the summer seemingly came to a head this week with Bill Kenwright’s public statement insisting the 21-year-old will not be sold, despite sustained pressure from Chelsea.
There is still time for that to change of course, but given Kenwright and Roberto Martinez have staked their reputations on keeping Stones at Goodison Park it appears their priority now is ensuring the young defender is fully focused on his football again.
Stones will certainly need to be at his best when Everton step out at White Hart lane, a ground where they have a terrible record in recent seasons.
Everton haven’t picked up three points at the Lane since 2008, losing five and drawing one of their last seven matches there in all competitions. Indeed they have won just three times away at Tottenham in the Premier League, with those wins coming in successive seasons between 2006 and 2008.
However, they do go into the game buoyed by the fact they have lost just once in their last six away games in all competitions, scoring eight times in their last two trips to Southampton and Barnsley.
Hopes were high at Tottenham in pre-season but a stuttering start has raised questions about whether they can launch a genuine challenge for a top-four place. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have yet to win this season, losing at Man Utd before drawing at home to Stoke and away to Leicester. They are perhaps one of a number of sides yet to really get going given the amount of transfer speculation surrounding their players, though they will be desperate to avoid going without a win in their first four games for the first time in seven years.
The form of last season’s top scorer Harry Kane is of particular focus. The England striker has yet to score this season and has just two goals in his last 11 games. One of those was the winner at Goodison in May though so I fully expect him to break his duck for the campaign against the Toffees once more.
Match Date and Time: Saturday, August 29th at 17:30 BST / 12:30 p.m. EST
TV: Sky Sports 1 - UK / NBC & Telemundo (Spanish Broadcast) - USA
Radio: TalkSport Radio - UK / Sirius XM FC, Channel 94 / Live audio stream via Everton's Match Centre
Live Stream: Sky Go - UK / NBC Sports Live Extra - USA
Everton expect to be without Brendan Galloway who suffered a knee injury in the defeat to Manchester City last weekend. Bryan Oviedo started at left-back against Barnsley in his place and is likely to continue at White Hart Lane. The likes of Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and James McCarthy are expected to be recalled after being left out of the starting line-up at Oakwell. Gerard Deulofeu is also pushing for a start after his impressive display from the bench on Wednesday.
Tottenham will be without winger Christian Eriksen due to a knee injury but welcome Andros Townsend back to the squad after recovering from shoulder and ankle injuries. New signing Heung-Min Son is unlikely to feature as the relevant paperwork will not be completed in time.
I’m hopeful this may be a good time to play Tottenham and the form of Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Kevin Mirallas gives me further confidence. However, Everton’s defending remains a concern and question marks remain over John Stones’ state of mind. Therefore I’m leaning towards an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Expected line-up: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Oviedo, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku.