Our EPL scribe is predicting an upset in the Tottenham versus Everton game this Sunday.
Given all the hoopla surrounding the Liverpool-Arsenal mega-fixture, most onlookers can be forgiven for not giving this encounter the same amount of attention. But in terms of upward momentum, this fixture is perhaps even more fascinating than the aforementioned grudge match. Despite their tawdry European travails, Spurs have been fairly imperious in the league, with a staggering run of consecutive home victories. Harry Kane has firmly established himself as one of European football’s premium strikers and is looking for his third consecutive domestic hat-tricks. Everton have quietly built their own momentum, with Romelu Lukaku cutting a similar niche to that of Kane. Ronald Koeman knows that a victory here would actually put them into the frame for a potential top-four finish – which is utterly remarkable when you consider the amount of powerhouses in the league at present.
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton | Sunday 5 March | White Hart Lane | 15:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Tottenham 6/10 | Draw 28/10 | Everton 17/4
Spurs look set to be without influential defender Toby Alderweireld, just a few weeks after returning to the first team. His groin injury looks set to rule him out whilst Jan Vertonghen should be passed fit. It’s a fairly easy fix with Erik Dier lurking around, but the presence of the immense Belgium will be missed – in both penalty boxes. Wanyama and Dembele should resume their excellent partnership in the heart of midfield, while Kane and Alli look to be destroyers in chief going forward.
Pochettino will have to be mindful of that Everton midfield. Expect a tremendous battle between Wanyama and Gueye, as the Everton bulldozer looks to maraud as often as possible. Spurs’ fairly schematic 4-2-3-1 will be tested by a fluid Everton line-up that alternates between 3-5-2 and 4-3-3. If Walker and Davies are caught out of position, the likes of Gueye and Davis will find width to exploit. The form of Harry Kane will clearly give them cause for optimism, but I actually expect Everton to potentially boss the midfield areas.
The performance of Gueye last weekend against Sunderland was unbelievable. He could become Everton’s answer to N’Golo Kante, with those deep surging runs from deep. Schneiderlin tends to sit while the full-backs advance, allowing Davies and Gueye the space to go forward. What has impressed me so much about Koeman’s side is their fluidity. They are able to change formations instinctively and this must be down to the work of the manager.
Romelu Lukaku will be tested by perhaps the best defensive system in the country this weekend. He will be buoyed by the absence of Alderweireld, but will need to deal with the attention of the indefatigable Wanyama. Lookman has provided some incision going forward while Ross Barkley has been in his most consistent form in ages. I really think that this Everton side has the nucleus of something special, with young players emerging simultaneously. Rumours of a possible Wayne Rooney return only enhance their standing as a team to watch next season.
Verdict: Everton 17/4
I’m going for a bold approach here and I actually think Everton could pull a major upset this week. Stoke were basically on cruise control at Spurs and didn’t really look bothered. This Everton side has pace and strength, with players establishing themselves in the English game. The likes of Davies and Gueye will cause problems for a Spurs midfield that has played a lot of games recently.
Written by Damien Kayat for