Everton travel to Tottenham on Wednesday night as both sides play their game in hand. Everton will be looking to capitalise on their good recent record at White Hart Lane. The Toffees have lost once in five visits to the Lane; winning three and drawing the other one. Spurs’ only triumph in this sequence was a 2-1 win in February 2010.
Everton have the edge in the last 10 league meetings between the two. Tottenham have emerged victorious in just two of these ten matches. Everton took four points off Spurs; last season. A Leighton Baines free kick secured an away draw and the Toffees won at home; thanks to Louis Saha and Seamus Coleman. The last three meetings, at White Hart Lane, have been keenly contested with each team boasting a win and the other match ending in a draw,
Both sides have been good defensively with only Manchester City (16), Liverpool (18) and Manchester United (20) conceding less than Tottenham (20) and Everton (22). The main difference between the two lies in the goals for column. Tottenham have scored 36 goals – the 4th highest of all twenty teams. By comparison, Everton have managed a mere 20 goals and only West Brom, Wigan and QPR have scored less.
Everton’s scoring pattern has been one of great predictability with the Toffees failing to score in the first half of their last 8 league games. However – a league high – 75% of their goals have been scored in the second half of matches.
Everton have kept four clean sheets this season; three of them coming on their travels. Only Chelsea and Manchester United have conceded less, away from home, than Everton. Confidence will be high among the Spurs players, having collected 22 points out of a possible 27 at White Hart Lane. The London side have kept four clean sheets in their last five league home games.
Royston Drenthe returned, from illness, with a substitute appearance against Tamworth. Without being at his best, Drenthe still managed to win a penalty. The winger has a tendency to over elaborate and his tracking back gets criticised. Thankfully, for Everton fans, Drenthe’s attacking threat cancels out his faults.
Bale has played almost three times as many minutes as Drenthe, so understandably has more assists. The noticeable stat, in Drenthe’s favour, is the time difference between assists. Bales averages an assist every three games whilst Drenthe averages an assist almost every game. There is no disputing that Bale is the better player but David Moyes should not ignore Drenthe’s importance to Everton.
Everton rely heavily on left back, and set piece expert, Leighton Baines; mainly due to a fairly average midfield. Spurs, however, boast some of the Premier League’s best midfielders. Luka Modric was the subject of a big summer bid from Chelsea, Rafael van der Vaart has played for Real Madrid, Bale has been linked with Barcelona and Aaron Lennon is an England international. Despite this, Baines outperforms 3 of Spurs’ first choice midfield, as well as Emmanuel Adebayor (38), Scott Parker (16) and Jermaine Defoe (10).
Everton’s second (Osman) and third (Coleman) best creators remain absent through injury. This places the creative burden firmly on Baines’ shoulders. The 4th best creators are Drenthe, Marouane Fellaini and Saha (all tied on 13); the first two are short of fitness after injury and the latter is experiencing a torrid run of form. Tottenham will look to double up on Baines and nullify his attacking threat. If they stop Baines, it’s likely they will stop Everton.
Everton are in the midst of a crisis with seven first team players out or rated very doubtful. Phil Jagielka (Knee), Leon Osman (Knee), Jack Rodwell (Hamstring), Tim Cahill (Groin) and Tony Hibbert (Groin) picked up injuries during the recent defeat to Bolton. Jagielka is due back at the end of February and the return dates of the Osman, Rodwell and Cahill remain unknown. After it was initially feared he could be out for a month, it now seems as if Hibbert may return on Wednesday.
Ross Barkley returned to training on Monday and may make the bench. Seamus Coleman’s thigh injury flared up during the weekend win over Tamworth and he remains out for the foreseeable future. James McFadden and Victor Anichebe got some much-needed match practice at the weekend and will hope to be involved on Wednesday.
Tottenham come into the match with injuries at centre back. Ledley King is out for 4-6 weeks (Hamstring) and William Gallas’ return is unknown (Calf). Michael Dawson made his long-awaited comeback against Cheltenham on Saturday and he is likely to be called upon again. Scott Parker is doubtful (Knee) and his place will go to Jake Livermore; if he doesn’t make it. The London side are also without Sandro (Calf) Huddlestone (Ankle) and Jenas (Achilles). Steven Pienaar will look to feature against his former team, as he looks to prove a point after a disappointing move to the capital.
A win for Tottenham will move them level with Manchester United in second; 3 points behind Manchester City. A win for Everton would move the Toffees back into the top half; up to 9th. The incentives for both sides are clear although Everton are severely hampered by injuries for this one. Be warned, you write them off at your peril. Everton often deliver when you least expect it.
4 away games have passed since Everton scored 2 or more
5 away games have passed since Everton conceded 2 or more
Everton have 6 Premier League wins over Tottenham in 38 meetings
Tim Cahill’s last Everton goal was 32 games ago
The last time a team scored 3 or more in this fixture was 2007 (Everton won 3-1)