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Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur: Toffees Look for Home Sweetener

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Diniyar Bilyaletdinov of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Goodison Park on October 17, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Chris PotterCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2009

"Spurs are just a team of midgets."

This was ex-Spurs defender Graham Robert's damning verdict at the start of this year.

Despite this criticism, Tottenham Hotspur recovered to finish eighth in the league as Harry Redknapp's old head and charismatic captain Robbie Keane's return to the club seemed to spark the London club into life.

Over the last few seasons, Spurs have "underachieved." This is the view of Everton boss David Moyes, leading up to this afternoon's clash between the two sides.

In the past two seasons, Tottenham's spending has totalled more than £150million, dwarfing that of Everton, who have finished fifth in the last two seasons—higher than Spurs on each occasion.

Nevertheless, it is Harry Redknapp's Londoners who have sprinted out of the blocks this season. Everton—with 15 points from their 14 games—are stumbling.

Tottenham come into the game on the back of two impressive performances: their record 9-1 demolition of Wigan Athletic, followed by an impressive away day at Villa Park, where their performance merited more than a draw.

Everton also excelled in last weekend Merseyside derby, even if it was to no avail in the 2-0 defeat.

The Toffees could be missing as many as 11 of their squad for this important encounter against fouth-placed Spurs.

Most importantly given Tottenham's formidable attack, they will certainly be without their four strongest defenders: Joseph Yobo, Johhny Heitinga, Phil Jagielka, and Sylvain Distin.

Luka Modric, Ledley King, and Johnathan Woodgate are the away team's notable absentees, although Croat Niko Krancjar, who has been phenomenal recently, will return after missing Tottenham's Carling Cup quarterfinal exit on Wednesday through suspension.

The form book does not favour Everton, either. Their fans last witnessed a league home victory on 20 September, and this afternoon's visitors have secured more away day points against David Moyes' men than against any other side since the birth of the Premier League.

Everton will look to goalscorer Louis Saha to make hay in the absence of defensive lynchpins King and Woodgate, with in-form Russian winger Dinar Bilyaletdinov (pictured) and Leon Osman chief creators.

Tottenham have proved to be much tougher competitors on the road. In fact, their record on their travels this season is better than Everton's at home. 

Wilson Palacios has added steel in midfield, and Tom Huddlestone has found some consistent form next to him. Michael Dawson will hope to add weight to his claim for a World Cup place with a solid performance at the heart of Tottenham's defence.

With Tottenham at home to Wolves and Everton paying Chelsea a wounded visit, a draw would perhaps content Harry Redknapp more than his counterpart, even if Manchester City stated their Chapmions League intent yesterday at Eastlands.

A lively draw is the best banker for this one, but this year's competition has thrown up some real surprises.

 

Probable Lineups:

EVERTON (4-4-2)

Howard; Hibbert, Neill, Coleman, Baines; Cahill, Pienaar, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov; Jo, Saha

Tottenham (4-4-2)

Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Krancjar; Defoe, Crouch

 

Key Battles:

Wilson Palacios vs Tim Cahill

Peter Crouch vs Lucas Neill

Dinar Bilyaletdinov vs Aaron Lennon

 

Prediction:

Everton 2-2 Tottenham

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