As far as holiday football seasons go, this one has been pretty darned festive for Tottenham Hotspur. Two straight wins during the busy period means that Spurs have a good grip on fourth place, and are just four from the top of the league. It's been an odd, topsy-turvy season thus far, and it means that Spurs have a legitimate chance not only for fourth place, but possibly even higher. Taking nine points from nine during the Christmas period would go a long way in that regard.
But first, Spurs have to take care of Everton. The Toffees have one of the scarier offenses in the Premier League, with Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley. But their defense hasn't exactly lived up to expectations. Everton's best defender John Stones nearly went to Chelsea this summer for £30m, but is playing more like a £15m player. Consequently, Everton are firmly mid-table, but they have the reputation of a club that should be doing a lot better than they are. Because of that, they're not a team to take lightly, especially at Goodison Park.
Spurs are without marauding midfielder Mousa Dembele, who is out for the next few weeks with a lingering ankle injury, and fellow midfielders Alex Pritchard and Clinton N'Jie continue to convalesce. Everyone else is healthy and raring to go. Everton, by contrast, are banged up with seven players on the sidelines, headlined by James McCarthy, Tom Cleverley, and Phil Jagielka.
Will Spurs be able to take full points from the congested holiday fixture going into next week's two matches against Leicester? We shall see.
How to Watch
Date/time: Sunday, January 3, 2016, 4:00 p.m. (UK), 11:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool, UK
Official: Michael Oliver
TV: NBC Sports Network (USA), Telemundo (USA - Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (UK), TSN1 (Canada), Fox Sports 4 (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBCS Live Extra (USA), Sky Go UK / Sky Go Extra (UK)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also BBC Radio London and TalkSport
Mousa Dembele's injury means a re-jiggering of the lineup. The only thing is, we don't know exactly how Pochettino will re-jigger. Tom Carroll has been the go-to Dembele replacement, more or less as a like-for-like in central midfield. However, after his heroics on Monday against Watford, it's also possible that we'll see Son Heung-Min come back into the attacking band, shifting Dele Alli shift back to the pivot. There have been rumors that Sonny isn't quite "Pochettino 90 minutes match fit" which is why I'm guessing that we'll see Wee Tahmmy in the lineup on Sunday.
Hey, look at that – the blog manager actually made the correct call! Big Boss Man, mpachniuk, and Punk all nailed the scoreline, and everyone else correctly picked a Spurs win. Go team! Here's the updated table and predictions for the first match of the season's second period.
|Earl of Shoop||6|
Dustin Menno: The this-guy-is-smart part of me thinks that there will be oodles of goals since Romelu Lukaku is a monster and Ross Barkley can actually play football now. However, I think Spurs' defense is good enough to counter most of what Everton can throw at them, even at home, and Spurs' offense is probably running on the fumes wafting up from the empty bottle of Toby Alderweireld's hair gel in the locker room. 0-0 bore draw.
Michael Caley: TBD
brett rainbow: TBD
Ben Daniels: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people that Roberto Martinez is a good football manager. 3-1 Spurs.
55thVin: Kick in the door, scoring goals galore, screaming Toffees ain't got a chance of top four! 3-1 Spurs
Bryan Ashlock: All the smart people are saying there will be tons of goals in this one, so I reckon it will end just like the first meeting between the clubs. 0-0 Draw.
Luke Zimmerman: Stupid, sexy Monday game throwing everything out of whack. I suspect Spurs have to have a come-back-to-earth game eventually so as much as I hate to do this, I’ll say Everton 2 - Spurs 1. HOPE I’M WRONG
Earl of Shoop: Everton schmeverton. Spurs have dominated midtable garbage teams this season (see: Southampton) and continue that trend against the lesser of two Merseyside evils. Spurs 1-0 with a scoreline that understates Spurs' dominance throughout.
Matt Pachniuk: Romelu Lukaku is a terrifying footballer, and he alone can win the game for the Toffees. That said, I am not betting against Tottenham Hotspur right now. Everything about this game says that we are ripe to drop points, but Poche's second-year squad is different. They have continually disproved our deeply embedded anxieties about this football club and will do so again on Sunday. I actually think Everton is a nice matchup for us in the sense that the team will be up for it. We owe them from the scoreless draw in August. Spurs 2-1.
Jake Meador: Spurs 3-2 Everton. Lukaku will give us some trouble, but I expect Alderweireld will help a lot in dealing with him. And their defense is a shambles.
GN Punk: Everton's attack scares me and while we've played very well on the road, nothing will surprise me in this one. I'll remain positive, though. 2-1 Spurs
Brian Mechanick: Everton has a leaky defense, and I'm hoping the form of Kane and the attacking midfield holds in the face of scary, scary Lukaku. 2-1 Spurs
Ed F.: Everton are still a week or so away from having Phil Jagielka back to bolster whatever it is that they're currently trying to pass off as a defence, so while their front line is probably going to find some joy in this game Harry Kane is going to having some fun mercilessly piercing their soft underbelly. 3-1 Spurs.