It’s never dull in Evertonland, is it?
Even during an international break they seem to make headlines, often for the wrong reasons.
The latest is a Premier League charge for breaching profit and suitability rules, adding a further layer of chaos and confusion to what is already an extraordinary season.
Everton insist they have done nothing wrong, while questions can rightly be asked of the Premier League who insisted last year that the Toffees were in the clear. There are questions for both sides and we are unlikely to hear the answers any time soon.
Then there were the latest financial results showing yet another loss, highlighting the reliance on Farhad Moshiri and suggesting the future of the club is a genuine risk if they are relegated to the Championship.
The stadium build has also been the subject of rumour and speculation, with reports suggesting it is running behind and the cost of the build is set to rocket. Neither would be much of a surprise in a project of that size, but it just adds to the feeling that everything about the club is fair game at the moment, so people are relishing sticking the boot in.
All in all, a troublesome few days.
What that cannot do though is distract from the task in hand, which is staying in the Premier League.
Sean Dyche has done a brilliant job of strengthening the core of the side and making them a competitive outfit that is tough (er) to beat, certainly compared to the final few months under Frank Lampard. But with the bottom of the table so close they cannot afford to rest up as just one defeat could see them slip several places, with results on Saturday and Sunday sending them back into the relegation zone.
The next week looks particularly critical as most of the teams around the Blues play their game in hand next midweek, meaning the table could look very different when the Toffees stride out at Old Trafford on Easter Saturday.
If Everton are a club in crisis then Tottenham are not far behind. It has been a pretty dreadful few weeks for the north London side, starting with elimination from two cup competitions before their late collapse against Southampton in the Premier League.
That sparked the already infamous rant by Antonio Conte, who unsurprisingly left the club a few days later. Then their director of football Fabio Paratici saw his Italian football ban extended worldwide by Fifa. To cap it all off there is speculation about their captain and talisman Harry Kane, who will enter the final year of his contract in the summer.
Despite all that they are still in a great position to qualify for the Champions League. They currently sit fourth, two points clear of fifth-placed Newcastle, albeit having played two games more.
It is now up to Conte’s assistant Cristian Stellini to guide the club through the final 10 matches of the campaign where failure to secure a top-four finish could have significant ramifications on the future direction of the club.
Tottenham 2-0 Everton, 15 October 2022
Tottenham eased to victory against a toothless Toffees side the last time the two sides met in October. After a goalless first half the game turned when Spurs where awarded a penalty shortly after the break. Harry Kane converted before Pierre Hojbjerg wrapped up the win with four minutes left.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still sidelined despite returning to individual training out on the grass at Finch Farm.
All the players on international duty returned unscathed however including Nathan Patterson, who made two substitute appearances for Scotland after nearly three months out with a knee problem.
James Garner also featured for England U21s as he edges closer to full fitness following a back problem.
What they said
Everton manager Sean Dyche: “The [attacking] stats have improved since we’ve been here on some of the markers you want - getting bodies in the box, getting better quality into the box, better quality of chances and different scorers,” said Dyche in Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
“I made it clear... it’s always been my mentality that if a player goes out the side then there’s a good opportunity for someone else.
“Beyond that, it’s the responsibility of the whole team to score goals and we’re showing good signs of that - being productive from different areas of the pitch, in different formats, different ways and trying to affect games.
“Effective football is what I want from the team and we’re showing good signs of that.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a better defensive structure in the weeks I’ve been here and now we’re just starting to find that balance between that and transitioning into attack.
“There seems to be a better feel to that. It’s hard to explain but the transition moment, adapting to it and seeing it early is improving.”
Tottenham caretaker boss Cristian Stellini: “We know when you’re not winning or lose games, the fans are unhappy. It’s normal and we have to accept this. All the staff, the players, we want to work hard until the end of the season, because this is our club, and we want to bring everyone with us. This is important for the next 10 games.”
“I feel very honoured and feel I’m in the right position to do this, I feel that, and I want to do this with all the staff, with Ryan (Mason), that’s very important for me and the club, and it was important when we were in charge when Antonio wasn’t here. We feel we can do what we did before, we want to improve, and this is a moment to take responsibility and to improve, all together.”
Everton’s home form has been the bedrock of their recovery under Sean Dyche so this must go down as an opportunity to add to their points tally. But while Spurs may be in a bit of a mess they still possess some fine players and could potentially go third with a win.