A drab draw to West Ham turned out to be a missed opportunity for Tottenham Hotspur in their second match of 2018. Simultaneously lackluster and unlucky, Spurs failed to gain ground in their race for the top four. Currently in fifth place, they sit two points ahead of Arsenal, three behind Liverpool, and five behind third placed Chelsea, and six points adrift of second placed Manchester United.
If there was ever a disappointment for the first quarter of the 2017-18 Premier League season, then it was Everton F.C. After going out and spending big money on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez, and Michael Keane, Everton failed to gel, were toothless in attack, and messy in defense. In fact, Everton’s discombobulated and unconvincing showings early in the season were reminiscent of the 2013-14 Tottenham Hotspur side dealing with the loss of Gareth Bale. Yet with the arrival of Big Sam Allardyce, the Toffees rattled off an undefeated streak of eight, including a 4-0 shellacking of West Ham and draws to Liverpool and Chelsea. While they’ve lost three in a row in 2018, Everton still feel markedly more dangerous heading to Wembley than they did in the early sections of this season.
Twenty year old Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a surprise for Everton up top and while the striker hasn’t lit the world on fire, he’s been a consistent force, can provide proper target play with a big frame, and has a deft touch to boot. Calvert-Lewin has often been joined by Wayne Rooney who is Everton’s leading goalscorer on the year with eleven notches thus far. Many snickered at his transfer this summer, but he’s been steady in his production, and has the chance to thrive even more with Big Sam’s structured approach to the game. Yannick Bolasie has recently returned from injury and he and Aaron Lennon can provide pace going forward. Lastly, Gylfi Siggurdson predictably hasn’t lived up to his enormous price tag from the summer, but is still fundamental to the Toffess playmaking ability.
Everton have six clean sheets this season and many of them have come in the past seven weeks. Gueye and Schneiderlin haven’t been great, but both are talented and can be a wonderful shield to a back four. Michael Keane has been mixed and Ashley Williams downright poor, but one can find worse center-back pairings in the Prem. In short, Everton have the defensive pieces that Big Sam can shape.
Its not the easiest of fixtures for Spurs, but its a match they really need. The late January and February slate is brutal and though Everton is looking rather resurgent, its still a game Spurs should win. Hopefully they can take three points on Saturday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, January 13th, 2017, 5:30 p.m. (UK), 12:30 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, UK
Official: Craig Pawson
TV: NBC (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio, BT Sport 1, BT Sport 4K UHD, BT Sport Live (UK), TSN2, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Danny Rose, Harry Winks, and Toby Alderweireld remain out. Harry Winks in particular is a surprise as it looks like his ankle injury was worse than first believed.
With those three out, Spurs look a bit more predictable in their lineup. Trippier started against Wimbledon, so I imagine Serge Aurier will start at right-back and he’ll be joined by Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, and Ben Davies in the back four. The double pivot should be a pairing of Eric Dier and Mousa Dembélé, with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-Min in the attacking band. Harry Kane will be the lone striker up top.
Only Nathan Giannini picked a correct score for the West Ham match, which puts him right smack in the middle of the pack. Menno and Wertheimer maintain a tense lead at the top.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
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Dustin Menno: Everton have become defensively… coherent under Sam Allardyce, and the return to form of Aaron Lennon and Yannick Bolasie make them a threat. Still, I think Spurs are plenty good enough to get a win at home against the Toffees. 3-1 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: The hunkering down will be in full effect from Big Sam and surely both Gylfi and Aaron will be motivated, but I don’t think Spurs are troubled all that much. It won’t be particularly pretty and we might even concede a goal, but Spurs win 2-1.
GN Punk: Spurs are playing well. Everton aren’t the tire fire they were at the beginning of the season, but we’re ultimately the better side. 3-1 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: Everton will look better than they did last time Spurs played them. The scoreline, though, will not be dramatically different. Tottenham 2-0.
Jake Meador: Big Sam is annoying and bad. 1-1
Skipjack: Imagine being sold of a bill of goods by idiot commentators about something that was supposed to become the best thing in the world and then it turns out to be worthless trash. Spurs 3-1.
Ed F: 2-2.
Salmon Chase: Aaron Lennon annoyed me and was bad for years with Spurs. He will be one or the other of those things on this day but it won’t matter which. 2-0 Spurs.
Joel Wertheimer: Spurs are rested and frustrated after last week’s matchup. Everton are slightly stouter than they were but won’t do much going forward. 2-0 Spurs.
Joe Patrick: I think we’ll struggle for a good bit, but once we break through, Everton’s spirit will drop and we’ll add a couple more for good measure. 3-0 Spurs.
Alex Greenberg: It’s January and Everton’s players still don’t really know how to play together. Now they’re going to force new signing Cenk Tosun in there too...and I don’t think it will work initially. 2-0 Spurs.
Nathan Giannini: Everton are better, but still not great. 3-1 Spurs.
Earl of Shoop: TBD