New search-engine friendly headline formats FTW! There's no excuse for me not putting EPL, UEFA Champions League, Carling Cup, and FA Cup in the headlines before. Hopefully, there will now be a bunch of new and wonderful people who find our community through the wonders of Google.
Everton are a bit of a bogey team for us. We beat them last year at White Hart Lane, but lost to them in the previous three seasons. We've lost at their place a fair bit as well, and we should have been able to beat them in our first encounter this season at Goodison park. Rafael van der Vaart rescued a point after Leighton Baines scored on a free kick that Younes Kaboul foolishly gave away, but we really should have had all three.
Between injuries, finishing woes, and the 2011 Asian Cup, Everton still have plenty of problems. They're not as woeful as back when they were in the drop zone, but this is still a team that we should be beating at home. They're without Tim Cahill, who is out on international duty. They don't have a striker worth a lick. Mikel Arteta hasn't quite been the same player he was before his bad string of injuries. Tim Howard is equally likely to make insane, standing on his head saves and howlers. They have some issues.
Of course, we have problems of our own. Ledley King and William Gallas are out due to injury, and Younes Kaboul is out due to suspension. This means that Sebastien Bassong will likely step into a starting role, with Vedran Corluka likely providing cover if necessary. The Dawson-Bassong partnership has some good and bad history behind it. The pair performed very well in our last match against Chelsea, but they're also the pairing responsible for the debacle in Bern. Their problem is not natural, physical talent, though, so they're perfectly capable of putting in another great performance.
Our midfield selection should be obvious, and has turned into a pretty cohesive unit, even with Tom Huddlestone gone. Wilson Palacios might make one giveaway per game that makes you shake your head, but he's done a great job at getting back into form and his passing percentages have actually been fantastic so far. Surrounded by van der Vaart, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, and Luka Modric, our midfield finally looks like something that can really go toe to toe with the Premier League's big boys.
Who to start at striker, though? Defoe is not the traditional No. 9 for our 4-4-1-1 setup, but he looked pretty dangerous in it before he got sent off against Aston Villa. Roman Pavlyuchenko was neither terrible, nor wildly impressive against Newcastle and Fulham. Much has been made of Peter Crouch's knock-downs to van der Vaart, but that's all Crouch does better than the other options. Yeah, we need a striker.
Everton were pretty inept in their loss against Stoke in their last match, and that was with Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka in the lineup. Both of those players will be unavailable, and it's not clear who is going to step into the lineup in their place. Jack Rodwell and John Heitinga, who have both looked most competent in the center of midfield, though Heitinga hasn't looked fantastic anywhere, are both able to step back into a central defense role. We could see the other step into Cahill's place, or Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. If both Heitinga and Rodwell play, look for Marouane Fellaini to step, occupying Cahill's spot.
And as a little aside, as the picture above alludes to, Spurs are rumored to be deep in negotiations with Everton and Steven Pienaar. Opinion on him seems to be split quite a bit, so keep an eye on him throughout the match and share your thoughts on signing him in the match thread or in a fanpost.
The game can be seen at 3 pm ET on ESPN3.com, legal and free! America, Eff Yeah. I'm feeling confident, even though Everton are our bogey team. Their injuries, international call-ups, and form are all big issues right now.
Projected Tottenham Hotspur lineup (4-4-1-1): Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Dawson, Hutton / Bale, Modric, Palacios, Lennon / van der Vaart / Defoe
Projected Everton lineup (4-2-3-1): Howard / Baines, Distin, Heitinga, Neville / Rodwell, Arteta / Pineaar, Fellaini, Coleman / Beckford
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Everton