Spurs and beyond will show the real Everton

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesRoberto Martinez has guided Everton to their best start in nine seasons.

There are obvious similarities between Everton and Tottenham, as the two attempt to leap into the top four on Sunday, with just a point and a place separating them in the league. There are also other parallels between the sides; both possess a sophisticated European coach intent on delivering Champions League football to a team recovering from the loss of a big-money departure.

The two also share a recent conquest, having narrowly secured three points against a stubborn Hull. After their respective success, Andre Villas-Boas bizarrely lambasted his home support: "We looked like the away team. We played in a difficult atmosphere with almost no support."

This was in marked contrast to the recent words of Martinez, who spoke about the Everton fan base earlier in the week: "The fans are the reason why we all get excited in the first place. Remember, the passion and the history that we have is very much alive in the way that our fans support our team."

For Martinez, this kind of sound bite is becoming the norm. Seemingly operating on positivity rather than oxygen, Martinez has tweaked the style, astutely bolstered the squad and displayed an impressive knowledge of the club. Though his time on the Goodison throne is in its infancy, there is no disputing the impact of the Spaniard.

Martinez has overseen an ever-improving start, which is the best since the Champions League qualifying season of 2004-05, earning a string of exciting victories along the way. Each of the five wins has shown a variety of qualities, from composure in possession and obdurate defending to clinical finishing.

Moving forward, the next six matches may answer questions relating to how far Everton can go this season -- four of those are against Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. With the visit of Stoke and a trip to newly promoted Crystal Palace splitting the aforementioned fixtures, the forthcoming games could set the tone for the remainder of the season.

Therefore, starting with Spurs on Sunday, the Toffees need to stamp their authority on proceedings. Dictating play and dominating possession against the so-called lesser lights is commendable, but there is something infinitely smarter about displaying these attributes against those in the upper echelons.

Often displaying an inferiority complex in years gone by -- a complex that has plagued the team for the best part of two decades -- Everton and Martinez can further underline the evolution of this team through assertive, commanding performances.

Fortunately, for the home side, one of the aspects in their favour is impregnable form on their own patch. Everton are unbeaten in the league at Goodison this calendar year; the last team to emerge victorious was Chelsea in December 2012.

Even so, in order to maintain this run, Everton must overcome a team thriving on the road. Seven wins and no goals conceded in all competitions away from home highlights the quality within the Tottenham squad. Playing on the break appears the best approach for the players at Andre Villas-Boas’ disposal.

Aiming to build on a six-match unbeaten home run against Spurs, which includes three successive wins, Everton seek the points capable of moving them into second place in the table. After all, though the position would most likely be a temporary one, this is the level that all concerned must aspire toward.

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