Counter-punching Spurs can make up ground against Everton

Posted by Dan Fitch

The great thing about the Premier League right now is that at least one top team drops points every week. Saturday it was Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton. That gives Spurs plenty of incentive to grab a win Sunday against an Everton side just a point behind them in the league.

This, of course, is no easy task. Everton have been a good team for years and arguably emerged from the summer transfer window more improved than any other club. Yet despite their good form and the fact that Tottenham made hard work of their game against Hull in the Capital One Cup midweek, I’m somewhat optimistic about the match.

First, it’s away. It’s a strange feeling for a Spurs fan to be more confident on the road than at home, but Andre Villas-Boas' side looks far more dangerous when counter-attacking.

Julian Finney/Getty ImagesWith Arsenal's big win against Liverpool, Andre Villas-Boas will be feeling the pressure to not lose any more ground on the league leaders.

Under the management of Everton's Roberto Martinez, there should be plenty of opportunities to break against a Toffees side set up to attack. In particular, I’m interested to see if Andros Townsend can make the most of the space left by Leighton Baines. The Everton left-back plays incredibly high up the pitch -- essentially as a winger -- and at some point you’d expect Townsend to get the opportunity to get in behind.

If I have a slight nagging doubt about this match, it's the fact that Tottenham played 120 minutes in midweek, while Everton’s players were at home with their feet up. Certain players might need a rest. Paulinho looked shattered and has played an awful lot of football this season. Sandro will surely come in to freshen things up, so it’s a question as to whether he’s partnered by his fellow Brazilian or Mousa Dembele.

There’s also a selection question in central defence. Younes Kaboul came through the whole match on Wednesday. If he’s fit enough, he should start in favour of Vlad Chiriches. With Romelu Lukaku leading the line for Everton, Kaboul’s pace and power could prove vital.

I would expect Gylfi Sigurdsson to start on the left after his amazing goal against Hull, with Lewis Holtby in behind Roberto Soldado. Holtby hasn’t been brilliant in his two recent league starts, but Christian Eriksen had a poor game Wednesday.

One of the key advantages Spurs have over most teams these days is the wealth of talent they can call on from the bench if the game needs shaking up. Their match against Everton could see the likes of Eriksen, Aaron Lennon, Erik Lamela, Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane, ready and waiting for a chance to impress.

If it comes down to a choice, I’d be more inclined to put Kane on the bench than Defoe. He offers a better option alongside Soldado should AVB decide to switch to a 4-4-2. Kane also deserves to be rewarded for his performance as a substitute against Hull -- a game in which Defoe was another disappointing performer.

With Arsenal’s win against Liverpool, Spurs are six points behind the league leaders. Which means winning against Everton seems something of a priority. And, as with many Spurs fans, I probably won’t be feeling nearly as confident as I do now come kick-off time.


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