Tottenham — Everton (Premier League)
The crucial fight for European ticket forth spot is on fire. On Saturday, Spurs and Toffees, sixth against fifth, will fight for advantage points knowing Liverpool just trashed Arsenal and knocked them out of the top of the League.
The Spurs are 6th with 44 points, one behind their visitors and Sunday they have the opportunity to jump in front of them. It’s also a good moment to shake that heavy defeat at the Etihad and the later annoying 1-1 draw with Hull City. One point gathered in six possible is not acceptable for Tim Sherwood’s team.
The key battles in the League table were never this tense and tight. The top and bottom have their specific packs, to close for all those involved. So far Liverpool have a slight competitive edge but the battle for that precious 4th place that equals Champions League is still open. Tottenham and Everton will give all they have for it, as visibility and money wise that makes all the difference. Eric Lamela is the only definite casualty Sherwood has for this game. Sandro (calf) and Vlad Chiriches (back) are still in doubt. Which means Sherwood has at least two excellent news, Younes Kaboul and Andros Townsend. They are eager to pitch in and will certainly be given minutes, maybe not a start just yet. The question here will be seeing if the Manager will return to his favourite 4-4-2 or stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation he has been experiment of late.
Probable line-up: Lloris — Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose — Lennon, Paulinho, Dembélé, Eriksen — Adebayor, Soldado.
Martinez side has been a consistent side this season. Other than losing the Merseyside derby they have a comfortable series of results, 7 times unbeaten in their last 8 fixtures in all competitions. Comparing scores alone Everton is now almost exactly where they were last run: 5th with 45 points, 37 goals in the League and still going in the FA Cup. But there’s a couple of differences. Steady, discreetly, effectively, new manager Roberto Martinez has the Toffees squad playing good entertaining football, a game that is fluid and less direct than that of his predecessor. Under him, Everton relies on the midfield rather than put all their eggs in wide crosses. Ross Barkley has been given a chance to flourish and realise his potential talent. Another evidence of the positive influence the Spaniard is having on the players is the contract extension Leighton Baines signed just last month. There was much talk of United’s interest in him but the defender decided on a long-term commitment as a Toffee.
Everton travel to London on the back of hard-wining and moralising win over Villa, and they’ll be hoping to extend in order to keep their fellow Merseysiders at arm’s length. And put some distance between them and their next opposition.
The Toffees injury list is certainly a headache for Roberto Martinez and puts some strains in his selection. Romelu Lukaku, Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Koné, Darron Gibson and Brian Oviedo will miss out. Seamus Coleman, Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Lacina Traoré will be the team bus this Sunday and it’s possible the new on-loan can get his first start for the Evertonians.
Probable line-up: Howard — Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines — McCarthy, Barry — McGeady, Osman, Pienaar — Mirallas.
Early November the reverse tie ended in a goalless stalemate, AVB was still in charge.