Everton vs. Tottenham: Two of Premier League's Underachievers Attempt to Push on

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

Everton and Tottenham have shared many a battle in the Premier League, and much more besides too.
Everton and Tottenham have shared many a battle in the Premier League, and much more besides too.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Along with Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur are two of the only clubs to have been in the Premier League since its inception that you would regard as having underachieved.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have (comparatively at least) consistently won major trophies in the ensuing two decades.

Neither Villa, Everton nor Tottenham had a God-given right to be successful in that time, of course.

But as three of English football's traditional "powerhouses," who each had enjoyed notable triumphs in the years preceding the invention of the Premiership, their failure to win more than they have has stood out.

To their credit, that this trio has managed to remain in the top-flight is no small-feat considering some of the notable clubs that have been unable to stave off relegation.

Villa have been especially concerned with maintaining that streak of late, but it is in regards to matters further up the table that the Toffees and Spurs are focused ahead of their meeting at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Heading into the weekend's fixtures, the visitors sit in fourth place, three points ahead of David Moyes' team.

The Merseyside outfit have began this campaign brighter than they usually begin a season but have been unable to convert solid showings into victories in recent weeks.

Under their latest manager, Andre Villas-Boas, Spurs have been inconsistent but are currently riding high off the back of a three-game winning streak.

Beyond the comparable status they shared heading into the Premier League, it is remarkable how they too have shared such a similar trajectory since that point, albeit occasionally at different times.

Both veered dangerously close to relegation in 1993-94 and 1997-98, while in 1994-95 enjoyed one of their better years of recent times (Everton won the FA Cup; Tottenham had Jurgen Klinsmann playing for them).

In the last decade they both broke into the top four (Everton once, Spurs twice), have flirted frequently with the Champions League and once or twice endured baffling, poor seasons.

Of course these clubs haven't always fared exactly the same—Tottenham, for instance, added another trophy to go with their two from the 1990s, but Everton, in the same period, have just won one (among many other differences between the two from the Premier League era).

Spurs were a bogey team of Everton's for a long time, though they have rid themselves of that jinx lately.

With the two of them sitting so closely right now, it makes the upcoming game all the more interesting to wonder if either is really capable of pushing on from here.

Everton arguably have their finest team of David Moyes' tenure, boasting the fearsome twosome Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic up top, other talents like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman,as well as intriguing youth prospects such as Ross Barkley.

It is a group of players that on their day can give anyone a run for their money (as seen in their opening weekend defeat of Manchester United), but one that also feels like it is lacking that little extra quality that could really take them forward.

With the vultures hovering around some of the aforementioned players, the danger of having this side torn to bits before it can progress any further is one the frugally positioned club might not be able to avoid much longer.

While Moyes waits to see whether he has it in him to build another Everton side on very little, Villas-Boas is in the process of establishing his right to lead Spurs for the kind of time his counterpart has had in his job.

Tottenham are better off financially and certainly have some considerable quality already at their disposal (as well as some intriguing young players beginning to stake a claim for consideration).

There is certainly potential for Spurs to move forward under Villas-Boas, but the club's lofty ambitions are such that only tangible progress will guarantee his job in the long run.

That is a difficult ask when English football has arguably not been this competitive since the 1980s, meaning even a very good season might not be good enough when compared to what someone does elsewhere.

With the frantic, festive fixture list about to get into full swing, both these teams might either be in close proximity or miles apart come the beginning of 2013.

For now though, neither can think about anything other than beating the other on Sunday.


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