Two teams with hopes of finishing in the top four square off when Tottenham Hotspur host Everton at White Hart Lane on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Spurs come into the match on the back of two disappointing results but are still solidly placed in the battle for a Champions League spot, three points off fourth place Liverpool with 44 points from 13 wins, five draws and six defeats.
Tim Sherwood (pictured) enjoyed an excellent start to his time as Spurs boss, with five victories and one draw in his first six matches in charge, but a heavy home defeat to Manchester City and a tepid 1-1 draw away to Hull have seen reality set in. Tottenham face top half teams in six of their next eight matches, a run of fixtures that could make or break their season.
Previous coach Andre Villas-Boas had been criticised for his perceived tactical negativity. Immediately upon taking charge Sherwood instituted a more attacking approach, committing more bodies forward and selecting two out-and-out strikers. Tottenham’s goal output has, predictably, increased, but more variety may be required if they are to reach the top four.
Indeed, away to Hull last weekend, Spurs struggled to create chances with any great efficiency, mustering just two shots on target from 19 efforts on goal, eight of which were blocked by the amassed home defence. The average position chart showed the two strikers and both wingers converging in the centre, where they were comfortably dealt with.
Sherwood does not have any definite injury absentees for Sunday’s match, but Erik Lamela (hip/thigh) and Sandro (calf/shin) have missed out on recent squads and again have to be considered doubts. He has confirmed that Andros Townsend (hamstring) and Mousa Dembele (ankle) are ready for selection.
Everton bounced back from a crushing defeat away to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby to record a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at home to Aston Villa last weekend. They are fifth in the Premier League table, a point clear of Spurs, with 45 points from 12 wins, nine draws and three defeats.
Roberto Martinez has done an excellent job since replacing David Moyes last summer. He has formed a neat, well-organised side who play attractive passing football and carry a solid final third threat whilst also limiting the number of clear cut opportunities created by their opponents. They have the sixth best scoring and third best defensive record in the league.
In attack, Everton generally look to manoeuvre the ball through midfield, either into the central attacking midfielder or out to the flanks, where the wingers and full-backs try to create overloads. The importance of the full-backs cannot be overstated, with the recent absence of energetic right-back Seamus Coleman having a clear effect on Everton’s attacking potency.
Coleman is one of a number of injured players whose absences have played a part in Everton’s relatively poor form over the last month and a half. In particular, the absence of first-choice defensive pairing Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin contributed heavily to the 4-0 loss to Liverpool. With players returning, Martinez will hope for better results in the coming weeks.
Antolin Alcaraz (muscle), Arouna Kone (knee), Brian Oviedo (broken leg) and Darron Gibson (knee) will all definitely miss Sunday’s game through injury, while Lacina Traore (hamstring) and Romelu Lukaku (ankle) are both unlikely to play. Talented young winger Gerard Deulofeu (hamstring) and the indefatigable Coleman (hamstring) are both in line to return.
Tottenham vs Everton Betting Tips Verdict
These sides drew 0-0 in a fairly dull match when they met at Goodison Park earlier this season, but last season’s equivalent fixture was a more entertaining affair, ending in a 2-2 draw. There have been two victories for Spurs, one for Everton and two draws in their last five league meetings at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham have by far the worst home record of any team in the top six, having accumulated just 18 points from 12 matches at White Hart Lane this season. They are yet to beat a side from the top half of the table on home soil and may struggle to break down an Everton defence at full strength and boasting one of the best away defensive records in the league.
The absence of Lukaku should not be a huge impediment to Everton’s chances of taking something from Sunday’s match, with the quick, nimble Kevin Mirallas perhaps better placed to terrorise the slightly cumbersome Spurs back four. Everton will look to stay compact and defensively solid, whilst also seeking opportunities to get at the home defence.
- These sides are well matched and a draw seems the most likely result. Back the draw @ 5/2 with Bet365, BetVictor, Betfred or Stan James.
- 66% of goals in Spurs home matches and 72% of those in Everton’s away matches have been scored in the second half. Everton generally look to keep things tight in the first half away from home and we would expect the match to open up in the second period. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 11/10 with BetVictor or Ladbrokes.