So we've slightly recovered from our shocking displays against Le Arse and United with a halfway decent win over the highly threatening side Stevenage...or at least that's how we made them look. We know Everton are likely to sit back in this game, soak up pressure and try to hit us on the counter. We know Everton have been dangerous at home all season, doing us many favours by beating City and Chelsea already. So how should Harry proceed?
We need to head back to what worked for us early in the season. No FRAAB, no out of position players (where it can be helped injuries permitting) and certainly none of this nonsense about not making subs when needed. Harry dropped the ball last week, the subs board should have been flying up the second that Ashley Young hit that (admittedly very nice) volley after some defending that I'm sure my local u21s team could have managed to do better. Instead it doesn't go up until it's too late.
So let's pick a proper lineup for Everton.
The obvious choice. He's been amazing all season and let's face it, doesn't have any competition for his starting place.
With Corluka heading on loan to Leverkusen he's the only recognised senior right back at the club. He had a bad game against United (that header in particular) but he's been very good this season and he has what we need in this match. His pace and attacking instincts will help pin back Baines and whoever starts on the left for Everton as Pienaar is loan-tied, particularly in the absence of Lennon.
The centre-back pairing picks itself at this point due to injuries. Kaboul is preferred to both the supposedly fit Gallas and Ryan Nelsen due to him actually playing a full Premier League match in the past three months. He needs to play better than he has done though recently if we're going to take the points. If Michael Dawson had not gotten a big injury in the Stevenage match I'd be advocating for him to start but he's done his knee and ankle. Get better soon Daws!
LCB: CFC (For the uninitiated, Ledley King)
For all of CFC's shortcomings in the pace department he's still our best defender. Not just due to his positioning and strength in the air but through his leadership ability that brings out the best in the rest of the back four. Has been a little off his game but again, a clear pick ahead of Gallas and Nelsen.
Even the greatest players have a stinker now and then. I would say Disco Benny has used his career's allocation of shockers in one match...aka the disgrace at the Emirates. He played well against United, keeping Nani quiet and getting forward well. When fit he's an automatic pick and is usually rock solid. Plus he has the best hair on the team and is hilarious. Don't cha wish your left-back was BAE?
RM: Van Der Vaart
We toyed with the idea of playing Rafa wide right earlier in the season and it was effective against teams who will sit back and soak up pressure. With the form that Defoe is showing it would be stupid of Harry to bench him and with Lennon presumably injured to the extent where he will miss this, VDV gets the nod here. He'll drift inside leaving the whole flank to Walker essentially but his ability to pick a pass and get into good attacking positions will be invaluable against the organised Everton we are sure to see.
Parker was missed in the match against United and now that he's back he almost walks right onto the team-sheet. While Jake Livermore and Sandro were great last week, neither are getting enough game time or good form to exclude the England captain. He will need to be at his destructive best against Everton to cut off the attacking threats, particularly when we get broken on.
When fit the little Croatian is an automatic pick for the starting XI, combining with Parker to form arguably the best midfield pairing in the league. He's been playing well lately and after not playing against Stevenage will be fresh and ready to go. His eye for the killer pass will be needed against Everton since they will be very structured in defence.
LM (not RM, not ST, not CAM, no FRAAB. ONLY LM): Bale
What do we say about Gareth Bale? Brilliant one week, mehhh at best other weeks. The Welsh winger has had arguably his best season in a Spurs shirt (although his dreams will still be consisting of 'Taxi for Maicon') but his decision making at key points has been off. Namely against City and Liverpool where it cost us 4 points. If he sticks to his role while being given limited licence to roam inside to link with Modric and co then he can tear the Everton defence to shreds, letting the strikers net some much needed goals.
Defoe is the form player in a Spurs shirt at this point. He has to start. PERIOD. If Harry doesn't start Defoe we could well not take three points here. He is our best finisher, has the pace and skill to both beat and draw away men plus he has that ability to score goals out of nothing.
He completes the classic "big man, little man" pairing up front and his form is good enough to give him the nod over Saha. When we play a 4-4-2 with Adebayor and Defoe we don't lose. We've started this way in 6 matches this season and have won all of them. He can hold up play well and works well with Jermain. That being said, Adebayor should be scoring more headed goals. His current total is 0. He needs to work on being offside less (correctly or incorrectly) and GET OFF THE GOAL LINE when players are shooting.
Cudicini - Better than Gomes.
Kranjcar - Quality but can't make it this week
Rose - In case Benny needs a rest
Gallas - Please, no more injuries.
Dos Santos - Surely he has to play at some point
Sandro - Bring him on if we get over-run
Saha - Can score goals if needed
Three points essential boys.