Bring on the 2017-18 Premier League season! Sure Tottenham Hotspur are already three games in and five points dropped into the nascent campaign, but its a known fact that the lilywhites wait until the transfer window is shut and the first international break is complete to perform. Thank the Many-Faced God for the change to next year’s transfer deadline day ruling.
Spurs drew to Burnley in a dumpster fire finish that did little to extinguish the narrative that Tottenham struggle at Wembley and that Kieran Trippier is *actually* bad. The draw saw Spurs move up one place in the table, five points removed from Manchester United and the top spot (haven’t wrote those words in really long time), and three points off the Champions League places.
Our opponent on Saturday is a new look Everton team. The Toffees are even with Spurs on points, yet their early calendar has been a bit more challenging. Like Tottenham, they lost to Chelsea, but beat Stoke and earned a positive 1-1 draw against Manchester City. Their transfer activity this summer was frenetic. Romelu Lukaku left to Old Trafford for a club record £75 million that could rise to £90 million with add-ons, while Gerard Deulofu, Gareth Barry, and Tom Cleverley also departed. Yet Everton didn’t rest on their laurels with that influx of funds. Ronald Koeman signed Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, and, of course, Wayne Rooney. Pickford and Keane, two astute signings in defense, cost Everton £30 million each, while Siggy, and damnit do we still love him at this blog, cost a whooping £45 million from Swansea. Unsustainable transfer fees anybody?
Even with Lukaku’s exit, Everton have exciting individual talent. They were overpowered by Chelsea, but should be a difficult opponent for Spurs. Everton has began the season primarily in a 3-5-2. Wayne Rooney scored on his debut and while the Manchester United legend is definitively past his prime, he can still crack the back the net if given the chance. He has been partnered with former Barcelona and Malaga product Sandro Ramirez, who has seen the pitch often in his short career as an Evertonian.
Morgan Schneiderlin, back from a red card against City, Idrissa Gueye, and Gylfi Sigurdsson are likely to start as the midfield three, but so too could Tom Davies. Siggy will add flair and passing to the midfield, while Gueye and, to a lesser extent, Schneiderlin will sit back and shield the back three. If those three are on their game, particularly Schneiderlin, they will pose a real challenge to Eric Dier and Mousa Dembélé in the center of the park.
The back three has shifted some this year, but Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, and Michael Keane create a solid and strong backline. Add Leighton Banes to the left wing-back spot and talented twenty-three year old Jordan Pickford between the pipes and Everton won’t be easy to break down — especially with Gueye and Schneiderlin sitting in front of them.
The caveat to all this is that individual players don’t win games, teams do. Spurs have probably gotten lucky by crossing off an away fixture against Everton early in the season. There is unquestioned quality to the Toffees, but the learning curve for so many new players to come together is high. Spurs, on the other hand, must be chomping at the bit to get back on the pitch and right the wrongs from the draw against Burnley. A competitive and high energy contest this match promises to be.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool, UK
Official: Graham Scott
TV: CNBC, NBC Sports Live (USA), BBC Radio 5 Live (UK), TSN1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
The big injury news this week is that Victor Wanyama’s knock is worse than originally reported and should keep him sidelined for weeks at least. Erik Lamela is also still working back from his debilitating hip injury and should be out till at least October. Danny Rose and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou won’t be available for Saturday, but are closer to training than both Wanyama and Lamela.
The only question this week is whether Serge Aurier starts ahead of Kieran Trippier. And sadly this is probably more of me just trying to make it a question rather than the reality of it not really being a question in Poch’s mind. Pochettino doesn’t give away spots without earning them. Due to a healthy Trippier and Aurier’s dearth of training with the side, its really hard to see Trippier not starting. (Note: Poch has indicated that Tripps is likely to start on Saturday)
With this said, the lineup should look like this. Hugo will start in net with Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld pairing in the center of defense and Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier occupying the outside back spots. Eric Dier and Mousa Dembélé look to begin their longest run in the double pivot since the 2015-16 season together, while the attacking band of Eriksen, Dele, and Son should cause Everton fits. Harry Kane will start up top as the lone striker and should score now that its September.
While this is the lineup I’m sticking with, it would be interesting to see Davison Sanchez start on the right side of a back three in a 3-4-3. Will Poch primarily use the 4-2-3-1 against bunkered down opponents and switch to the 3-4-3 against more fearsome sides? His lineup on Saturday will say a lot about his intentions.
No Carty Free writer was depraved enough to predict anything other than a Tottenham win. Considering Bryan A attempts to pick an incorrect outcome every week, his 5-0 Spurs win was really the big winner. Nonetheless, he earns no points for that like the rest of us.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
|Earl of Shoop||2|
Dustin Menno: If Spurs are going to be viewed competitors in the league this season, it’s teams like Everton that they absolutely have to beat on the road. Everton are still the seventh best team in England, but I don’t think they’re going to make it easy. 2-1 Spurs, but it’s nervy all the way through.
Matthew Pachniuk: Goodison is always tough and I don't think Spurs are out of the woods just yet in terms of their early season form. They need a breakout and a rash of goals and I don't think that this will come Saturday. We still earn a point though. Desperate to be proven wrong here. 1-1.
Jake Meador: Everton is boring but good. Tricky match, but we win 1-0.
Skipjack: People think Everton are the future but they've discounted how much energy they wasted putting this team together. Ironically they're a paper tiger trying to move beyond that and it seems as if only investors believe in them. Spurs may be weakened but they have a long history demonstrating that their talent is a real, tangible thing that people can rely on. 2-1 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: It isn't going to be fun, but Spurs will get the win now that August is over and Harry Kane can score again. Tottenham 1-0.
Joe Patrick: I think we would fare worse against last year's Everton than this year's Everton. They've built their team in a way that will play right into the hands of most of the top tier teams in the Premier League in the short term -- chalk full of individually fine attacking players, but without a holistic tactical plan in place that suits them. I also wonder if Spurs will find it more comfortable playing back in a small traditional-style ground. Anyway, 3-0 Spurs.
GN Punk: 2-1 Spurs because we can't have a stress free match.
Salmon Chase: My new job sucks, is anybody hiring? 3-2 Spurs.
Earl of Shoop: Everton legend Romelu Lukaku and future England captain Ross Barkley are unable to capitalize on great long ball delivery from England's heroic John Stones and strong runs down Spurs' left side courtesy of the tireless legs of Seamus Coleman. Wayne Rooney. Spurs 3-1
Ed F: Something something only points Rooney is picking up this week are on his driver's licence something. 2-0 Spurs.
Alex Greenberg: Serge Aurier reportedly isn't ready to start yet, so that means another game of The Kieran Trippier Experience. We'll go ahead, but Kieran will give it right back to the Toffees. 2-2.
Nathan Giannini: Gonna be a tight one, but someone on Spurs does something amazing and we sneak a 1-0 win.
Joel Wertheimer: It'll take forever but Spurs will get a goal and then add two more as Everron fail to open up. Then Spurs will derp one back. 3-1 Spurs.