Death, taxes, Everton finishing outside of the top six. Some things you should just expect every year. It doesn’t really matter what the Toffees try and do to upend that truism, ultimately things happen and they finish just above mid-table. Two years ago Everton sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, spent an additional £73m on players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, and Theo Walcott... and finished 7th. Last season, Farhad Moshiri opened the pocketbook again for another £58m outlay that included Richarlison and Yerry Mina... and Everton finished 8th.
Marco Silva has been in charge of the Toffees since 2018, and he was supposed to be Everton’s savior, a long-time target of the club that would finally lift the OTHER Merseyside club out of Liverpool’s shadow and into the spotlight. But it hasn’t happened, and this season the wheels have started to fall off. Everton are currently 16th, with ten points from as many matches. That includes one win and five losses in their last six matches, their only result a 2-0 win over West Ham on October 19. Like Spurs, they are winless on the road this season. Unlike Spurs they have only taken a single point away from Goodison Park, an opening week scoreless draw against Crystal Palace.
That’s a little harsh on Everton. They have been let down by their finishing so far this season — their nine goals represents a significant underperformance of xG, which stands at 14.52. It’s the same story defensively — they have an xGA of 12.1, sixth best in the league, but they’ve conceded 16 goals.
Unlucky? Undoubtedly. Slightly hilarious? Also true. The stats suggest, however, that they’ve been better than what their results indicate, though only one match, a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City, has been against the big six. There’s reason to believe that the luck will start to turn and Everton could begin climbing the table again... maybe getting closer to, say, 8th.
That should make Tottenham Hotspur a little nervous. According to StatsBomb, Everton are the highest pressing side in the Premier League — they like to get right up into your face and try and force turnovers. That has led to Everton conceding the fourth fewest shots per match in the league, behind Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool. However, that commitment to the press can, as we know, lead to good chances for the opposition if they are able to beat or bypass the press. Tottenham have had some luck playing over the top of pressing teams (see: “Air-Raid Offense”), and it’s not a stretch to say that with the right personnel they could cut through Everton’s midfield and have some decent opportunities going forward.
The Toffees are without Bernard, which is a plus for Tottenham, and Yerry Mina, which is very ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. A defensive performance like what Spurs put out at Anfield will go a long way to nullifying Everton’s offensive threat through Richarlison, and breaking the press should lead to some pretty decent opportunities going forward.
It looks like a matchup that favors Spurs. But we’ve been down this road before.
How will Tottenham line up against Everton?
One of the (many) casualties of Tottenham’s crappy early form is the ability to confidently predict just how the hell he wants to set up his team. Last Tuesday, we saw Pochettino set up in a 4-3-3 with Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko, and Dele Alli in a midfield behind Son Heung-Min, Erik Lamela, and Harry Kane. And it worked! Against a very bad Red Star side, Spurs rolled to a big home victory. This past Sunday, Poch brought back Harry Winks, Danny Rose, and Christian Eriksen, and while Spurs lost to Liverpool the performance was at least better than we’ve seen from that particular lineup this season.
Pochettino’s rotation system has been a bit baffling, but if we take the past few matches as a pattern, it suggests that we’re likely to see a lineup that includes Ndombele, Ben Davies, and Jan Vertonghen. A pivot that includes Ndombele and Sissoko seems custom made to break a high pressing midfield, certainly, and if Spurs are trying to quickly break the press and push the ball fowards the inclusion of Ndombele makes a LOT more sense than Harry Winks.
Tottenham’s lineup might also include Lucas Moura or Giovani Lo Celso, if Erik Lamela is still out injured. However, it might not — Spurs have had a full week to prepare for this match since they didn’t have the League Cup to worry about, so who knows? But this is at least what I’d like to see.
This is my predicted lineup for Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Everton. What’s yours?