Predicting the Everton XI to Beat Spurs

Jordan Lynn@@jordanlynn28Contributor IIIDecember 7, 2012

Predicting the Everton XI to Beat Spurs

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    Two of the Premier League's top six meet at Goodison Park this weekend as Totteham take on Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

    Spurs, fresh off a European win against Panathinaikos on Thursday, lie two positions and three points ahead of Everton as both sides have started well this season.

    Everton have cooled off in the past month or so with a disappointing loss against Reading and draws that should have been more against Norwich and Arsenal; the Blues have only won one of their last nine games.

    On the other hand, Tottenham are on a three-match unbeaten run in the Premier League but could be without there best player, winger Gareth Bale, who suffered a hamstring injury last weekend against Fulham.

    The weekends encounter promises to be a tasty affair with both sides looking to keep their strong run for Champions League football on track in this European six-pointer.

    All statistics provided by Opta. And while you're here, why not check out Matt Cheetham's Everton vs. Spurs preview too?

GK: Tim Howard

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    Not much to say about this selection, really—American Tim Howard is Everton's No. 1 and that is that.

    While shot-stopper Howard hasn't had the best of seasons so far, as Everton continue to struggle to keep a clean sheet with the last one coming at the end of September against Swansea, Howard has no real competition for his place.

    By all accounts, manager David Moyes is looking to change this, with Everton being linked with the most expensive British goalkeeper in history, former Sunderland man Craig Gordon.

    If Gordon or another goalkeeper is to come to Everton, though, they will still be bench fodder until Howard does something drastically wrong or is injured, so expect the American to make it a whopping 199 consecutive Premier League starts against Spurs on Sunday.

RB: Tony Hibbert

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    Tony Hibbert should make his 319th career appearance for Everton on Sunday, rising to 25th in the Club's all-time appearance list.

    Hibbert may not be Everton's first-choice right-back as Irishman Seamus Coleman has been used more by manager David Moyes this season, the Liverpool native is still needed as a squad player.

    Right-back has been a position of question for Everton throughout Hibbert's career with the Blues, while he is a solid player he has often been a player or two removed from Everton's weak-link.

    No question Hibbert is a cult hero, an Everton legend and a fantastic servant to the club but the time is coming when the Blues need to find an upgrade, and Coleman may offer that.

    Having said that, Hibbert is much better than Coleman as a defender but offers nowhere near as much going forward so it is a delicate balance.

    With Gareth Bale struggling with a hamstring injury sustained against Fulham last weekend, Hibbert should have an easier time against Spurs and be given more room to demonstrate that attacking flair.

CB: Phil Jagielka

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    Likely to captain the side, Phil Jagielka is putting together another wonderful season for the Toffees. 

    Jagielka had perhaps his best game of the season against Arsenal last week, making two wonderful last ditch tackles as the game ended showing his pace, presence of mind and physicality in the process.

    After a game-long tussle with Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, Jagielka and company will have to deal with the pace of the Tottenham attack with Jermaine Defoe leading the line and in lovely form following his two-goal performance against Fulham last time out.

    Everton's defense has settled over recent weeks but is still prone to some lapses in concentration but with Jagielka and Sylvain Distin reforming a crucial partnership, the Blues can return to winning ways against Spurs.

CB: Sylvain Distin

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    Alongside Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin offers Everton their strongest defensive partnership.

    While John Heitinga had a great season with the Blues last term, he has been largely poor when used this season and Distin has been as consistent as any Everton defender.

    Like Jagiekla, Distin has a surprising burst of speed and can keep the quickest forwards in the Premier League under wraps, which is great as this weekend he will have an in-form Jermain Defoe to deal with.

LB: Leighton Baines

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    The only question mark hanging over Leighton Baines at Everton is whether or not his Movember mustache will remain for the game against Tottenham on Sunday.

    Baines has again shone for Everton this term looking as deadly as ever going forward and more than capable in defense.

    For my money the best left-back in the Premier League, Baines has created more chances for team-mates than any other player in the top flight this season with 53

    After a hamstring scare against Arsenal a week ago, Baines came through 90 minutes against defending Champions Manchester City on Saturday so should be fit enough to make his usual impact against Spurs on Sunday.

DM: Darron Gibson.

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    Welcome back, Darron Gibson.

    After a lengthy injury lay-off, Irishman Gibson was welcomed back in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal last week and played the full 90 minutes against Manchester City three days later.

    Simply put, Gibson makes Everton a better side.

    The midfielder gives the defense more cover by sitting just in-front of the back four, breaking up play as and when necessary.

    He keeps possession fantastically well and distributes the ball wonderfully, while he never grabs the headlines by doing the flashy stuff, he fills a crucial role for Everton.

    Gibson allows the other midfield players around him, notably Marouane Fellaini, more freedom and while the Belgian hasn't exactly struggled with the Irish international absent the big-haired maestro will get better with Gibson backing him up.

RM: Kevin Mirallas

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    Isn't it about time Kevin Mirallas made his return from injury?

    It seems that every week since the Belgian international limped off against Sunderland on November 10, Evertonians have been promised the return of the excellent midfielder but to no avail.

    Steven Naismith has filled in for Mirallas but he cannot offer the same attacking prowess that the Belgian offers the Toffees.

    With Mirallas on the right side Everton have an attacking threat on both wings, not to mention the central threat of Fellaini and Jelavic, making them a far more difficult prospect for any opposition.

    When Mirallas is missing, the right side becomes much more manageable and attention can be shifted to the much more lethal left side.

    As Gareth Bale struggles with his hamstring, Mirallas would make a welcome return against Spurs and could be the difference maker as the Blues look for a much-needed win. 

CM: Leon Osman

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    With Darron Gibson's absence highlighting his importance to Everton and Marouane Fellaini putting together his best season at Everton, Leon Osman is the Everton midfield forgotten man.

    Having won his first call-up to the England squad a few weeks ago, Osman has been playing well for Everton this season but he never has, and never will, grab the headlines.

    A solid performance against Manchester City showed Osman's football intelligence as he defended resolutely against City's attacking prowess.

    Osman's passing has been as accurate as ever this season, he keeps the ball fantastically well and can move the ball forward, compared to his midfield partner Gibson who plays a more lateral and defensive game.

LM: Steven Pienaar

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    A little bit off the pace in recent weeks, midfielder Steven Pienaar has become a bit of a worry for Everton fans.

    Pienaar and Baines form Everton's deadly left-side and when one isn't at his best, the whole team suffers.

    Pienaar is one of those players that can shut-out of a game completely but have one moment of brilliance and change a game but the South African will hope for a more complete performance this weekend.

    Against Norwich, Pienaar was nowhere near his best and the signs of life he showed in the first half against Arsenal were nullified by a quiet second period.

    Tasked with a more defensive role against Manchester City, Pienaar did well but has not hit the highs he can and has achieved during his two spells at Goodison Park.

    Lest we forget, Pienaar is playing against his old club in Spurs (albeit playing for his old, old club Everton) so the South African will not be lacking in motivation when Tottenham arrive at Goodison Park on Sunday.

AM: Marouane Fellaini

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    Marouane Fellaini has been unstoppable so far this season having scored (6) or assisted (3) nine goals in his last nine Premier League games for Everton. 

    The Belgian international has netted 8 times in the Premier League so far this season, equalling his season-best of the 2008-9 campaign.

    He is a nightmare for opposing defenders as his size, touch and finishing ability make him one of a kind in the Premier League.

    Fellaini has scored 5 goals in 5 games and Evertonians will hope he continues his purple patch against Spurs on Sunday.

    While the Belgian believes his best position is in defensive midfield but the way he has been playing off the striker this season, he may be the only person in the world who thinks he shouldn't be causing havoc further up the pitch.

ST: Nikica Jelavic

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    Everton striker Nikica Jelavic hasn't been firing on all cylinders recently, having not found the net in four matches, a long-term drought considering the Croatian internationals scoring record last season.

    It isn't just that Jelavic isn't scoring, his performances have dropped too with his game against Norwich possibly the worst he's had in Everton's Royal Blue.

    Jelavic returned to some semblance of form against Arsenal getting into goal-scoring positions, most notably after a wonderful bit of skill over the head Gooners defender Per Mertesacker, but for the Blues to snap out of their recent lull they need Jelavic to hit scoring form.

    Nikica Jelavic's chance conversion rate this season is 15.2 percent,compared to 30 percent last season, so maybe the Croatian is suffering from those second season blues and, thanks to Fellaini, Everton haven't missed the lack of a goal-scorer too much.

    Evertonians everywhere will be hoping Jelavic can take one of his chances against Spurs like he did in his full debut against the North London outfit last term.