White Hart Lane, London
April 07, 2013; 13:30 BST
Tottenham Hotspur hosts Everton at White Hart Lane today in a match which can have big impact in the Champions League qualification battle.
White Hart Lane hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Everton in recent years. The last time David Moyes’ men beat Tottenham Hotspur was way back in the 2007-2008 season, when Steven Pienaar scored the only goal of the game in the second half. But Everton’s overall recent record has been good. The Merseyside club have lost just once in their last five matches against Spurs – winning three of them.
Everton are currently 6th in the league table and David Moyes would desperately want to hold onto the Europa League qualification spot. Most importantly, if they hold onto this position, they will finish above arch rivals Liverpool (who are just three points behind them and Everton have a game in hand) in the league table, which would feel like a trophy in itself for the blue half of Merseyside.
Everton are coming into this match on the back of a crucial home victory over Stoke City last weekend. This is incidentally their first away fixture after a run of five consecutive home matches. The Toffees have been in good form recently, winning four of their last five matches. But their away form hasn’t been that impressive – they have won just once in their last five away matches.
Tottenham Hotspur on the other hand, have been on a poor run lately. Spurs have won just once in their last five outings – having lost to Liverpool, Inter and Fulham in a row. They have also put themselves in a precarious position in the Europa league having conceded two away goals in the 2-2 draw against Basel in the first leg.
Spurs are currently 3rd in the league table and just one point above Arsenal and two points above Chelsea – who have a game in hand. Their defeat against Fulham at home was their first loss at White Hart Lane in the last 15 games (in all competitions). Tottenham will need to turn things around against Everton, or they could find themselves out of the top-four very soon. They have a tough run of fixtures coming up after this match with an away trip to Basel, away trip to Chelsea and Manchester City at home.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The big news for Tottenham is of course the absence of Gareth Bale due to the injury he picked up against Basel in the midweek clash. It is fair to say that it has jeopardised their hopes of retaining the top four spot. Worryingly for Tottenham, Bale isn’t the only injury concern they have at the moment. Lennon and Gallas have also picked up injuries and are expected to be out for 2-3 weeks at least. The trio is the latest entry to the injury list which already contained the likes of Defoe, Kaboul and Sandro.
So lot of changes are expected to the starting line-up that was fielded against Basel. Hugo Lloris should be back in goal replacing Friedel, while Gallas will be replaced by Dawson in the back-line. Dempsey will get a start in this match, playing in the hole behind Adebayor, while Holtby will replace the injured Lennon on the right.
The problem of playing both Sigurdsson and Holtby in the team is that there will be lack of a width in the attack. Which means Walker and Ekotto will have to provide the width for the team. Walker will have also have to deal with Leighton Baines down that side as the left back is a potent threat going forward. Spurs have conceded 11 goals in their last five matches, which might instigate a more cautious approach in this match by AVB, which means he is likely to instruct his defenders to hold a deeper line in this match, when they lose possession.
Adebayor’s physicality will be crucial against a robust Everton defence, while Bale’s absence means the likes of Dempsey and Dembele will have to contribute more to the attack. But the goal scoring form of the rest of the players doesn’t exactly inspire confidence – Dempsey is the third highest goal scorer in the league for them, behind the injured Bale and Defoe, with only five to his name in 22 matches. It will be crucial for Tottenham that Adebayor finds his form quickly during this important phase of the season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dembele, Parker; Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Holtby; Adebayor.
Everton, unlike Tottenham Hotspur, don’t have too many injury worries at the moment to deal with, except for Kevin Mirralas who scored a wonderful goal against Stoke City in their last match. The Belgium international picked up a groin injury in that match and was substituted in the 80th minute. But David Moyes will push to feature him in the line-up as they are already missing Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar due to suspension.
David Moyes, surprisingly one must add, changed to 3-5-2 formation against Stoke City last weekend and it worked for them. No changes are expected to the starting line-up or tactics used against Stoke City and once again David Moyes will field Distin, Jagielka and Heitinga as the three center-backs, which means wing-backs Baines and Coleman will have license to bomb forward down the wings. It can work well against Tottenham, who will be narrow in their attack due to the lack of any natural wings in the starting line-up.
Anichebe and Jelavic will start up-front with Gibson, the ever-reliable Osman and Mirallas featuring in the midfield. Mirallas will have a free-role in the side and be potent while counter-attacking with pace. Osman will also have to take care of Dembele’s forward runs from the midfield, while Heitinga might move forward from the back-line to handle Dempsey, leaving Distin and Jagielka to deal with Adebayor.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Howard; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin; Coleman, Mirallas, Osman, Gibson, Baines; Anichebe, Jelavic.
- Five of the last six Premier League clashes between these two teams have been won by the home team (one draw).
- Everton have won three consecutive league games for the first time this season, but all three of these matches have been played at Goodison Park.
- Tottenham have won four of their last six league matches, but just one of their last three (L2).
- No side have scored the first goal in more Premier League matches this season than Tottenham Hotspur (19).
- No player has created more goalscoring chances than Leighton Baines (96) across Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Player To Watch Out For
Lewis Holtby (Tottenham Hotspur)
The player hasn’t got too many opportunities since making his move to Tottenham during the winter transfer window. But now with Bale and Lennon injured, he should step up to the plate and deliver on the high expectations that surrounded him during his transfer. He has done it for Schalke and now he must do it for Spurs. Holtby is an exciting young talent and he can cause Everton a lot of problem if he finds his feet early on in the game.
Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 1 Everton
Tottenham will find it hard to score too many goals due to the absence of Bale and Defoe, especially against Everton, who have now managed to keep two clean sheets in a row – against Manchester City and Stoke – unless Adebayor has something to say about it. Expect this game to end in a draw with a 1-1 scoreline.