How Everton Will Line Up Against Tottenham
Roberto Martinez's new side have started the season in promising fashion, seemingly intent on competing for European places. An away win at Aston Villa provided a fifth win in six games.
While not yet appearing entirely fluent with so many new additions, Spurs have also produced consistent form, taking 13 points from their last six games. They currently sit in fourth, which is one point and two places above Everton.
Andre Villas-Boas will want to erase painful memories of last season's 2-1 loss to the Toffees. Leading up until stoppage time, a dramatic two-goal salvo condemned his side to the unlikeliest of defeats.
Everton have won their last three home games against Spurs and are unbeaten in six, with Tottenham's last Goodison Park triumph back in 2007.
Once again, Martinez has all of his key players available, with Darron Gibson the only long-term absentee.
Arouna Kone wasn't selected on the bench against Aston Villa, having picked up a knock against Hull. According to Martinez's pre-match press conference, that knock is more serious than initially thought and requires further tests.
Martinez confirms Kone "over-extended" his knee during the game against Hull City #EFC— Everton (@Everton) November 1, 2013
Kone will therefore remain sidelined, as stated on Everton's official website, joining Antolin Alcaraz in the treatment room.
There is better news regarding both John Heitinga and Tony Hibbert, who have returned to full training and should be available if selected.
With that team news considered, here's a look at Martinez's potential starting XI.
There is only one dilemma for Martinez, involving whether or not to bring in Leon Osman.
The back five produced a welcome clean sheet against Aston Villa and will continue their ever-present record against Spurs. Tim Howard was particularly influential and will hope to sustain this latest bout of form.
Which player not in this XI should start?
Gareth Barry and James McCarthy will resume their central midfield partnership, enforcing Martinez's passing approach, while Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar will be deployed out wide.
In attack, Romelu Lukaku will lead the line, seeking his sixth goal in six Premier League games for Everton, ably supported by Ross Barkley.
Then comes the selection debate. This is arguably Everton's best team on paper, but Osman's instant impact from the bench turned the game against Aston Villa. It seems harsh not to reward that with a start.
He can perform in any of the five midfield roles but perhaps slots in best when playing behind the striker. Given Barkley's quieter showing against Villa, and Spurs' strength in defensive midfield, he may be the most vulnerable starter.
Martinez will deliberate long and hard over this decision but seems more likely to field an unchanged side, giving his best XI more time to gel and keeping Osman is reserve.
Paulinho has been an instant hit at Tottenham, making an impact in both boxes. He does the simple things well, moving his side around with the ball and leading the pressing without it.
What's your prediction?
Possession will be keenly contested in this match, with both sides averaging more than 57 percent this season, ranking them in the Premier League's top four. Both will look to limit the space in midfield and to rush their opponents, making Paulinho's role crucial for the visitors.
The more he can pester the likes of Barry and McCarthy, the more Everton will resort to longer passes, reducing their control on the game.
For Everton, Lukaku's already shown why he's such a pivotal player this season, emphasising his worth with a clinical finish against Aston Villa.
Without dominating the game, his presence still enabled the Toffees to win, something that's been a struggle in recent seasons.
Everton will find it hard creating chances against a well-organised opponent, but Lukaku's presence will provide a constant threat, capable of winning the game in a flash.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Tottenham
Statistics via Who Scored?
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