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    Everton v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview

    By Tom Regan

    Tottenham Hotspur’s first fixture of 2016 is a trip to Goodison Park to take on an Everton side who have slipped down the table in recent weeks.

    Following a difficult last campaign, manager Roberto Martinez is under pressure to change the fortunes of his side, but results have not gone their way of late.
    The Toffees have won just one of their last six Premier League fixtures, slipping to 11th, which is where they finished last season.

    A 4-3 home defeat to Stoke City caused much unhappiness for Evertonians, and the high number of goals they are conceding is a huge concern.
    Romelu Lukaku has been in scintillating form this term with 15 goals, but his goals alone will not push Everton up the table. Only a vast improvement in their defending can help them to stop dropping points on a regular basis.

    Focusing on the positives, Martinez can be proud of his attacking players such as Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku who scored in eight successive games until he drew a blank against Newcastle.
    The consistency of Barkley’s performances have often been questioned, but he has stepped up to the plate this season with an impressive seven assists, the same as Deulofeu. Nullifying his threat could be a tough ask due to his directness.

    Spurs left it late at Vicarage Road, but Heung-Min Son’s sublime back-heel made sure that his side took maximum points away from the Hertfordshire based club.
    Mauricio Pochettino’s side have started to turn draws away from home into victories, and they boast the best defensive record in the Premier League accompanied with the best goal difference.

    The Lilywhites are unbeaten in their last six games against Everton, therefore the home side must be at their very best if they have any chance of coming out on top against their in-form opponents on Sunday.
    Lukaku’s aerial ability could cause problems for fellow Belgian team-mates Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, so the key could be for the likes of Eric Dier and Dele Alli to try and kill the supply which will undoubtedly come from Barkley and Deulofeu.

    Erik Lamela has taken a long time to adapt to the English game, but he is in great form, epitomized by four goals in his last five games. The Argentinian can be useful defensively due to his high work rate, but can occasionally be guilty of conceding free kicks in vulnerable positions which could cause his side problems with Lukaku’s aerial strength.
    With 10 goals in as many games, the Toffees will need to be watchful of England hot-shot Harry Kane, and with just one clean sheet in their last 12 games at Goodison Park, Harry will more than fancy his chances of finding the net.

    Team News
    The Merseyside club will be missing Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy as the midfielder suffered a recurrence of a hip problem against Stoke on Monday. Tom Cleverley replaced McCarthy during the 4-3 loss, but he may also miss the fixture with an Achilles issue.

    Captain Phil Jagielka is set to return after several months out injured, but that may not be until the latter stages of January.
    The north Londoners will be without midfielder Mousa Dembele for at least a few weeks after he had to be taken off in the 2-1 win over Watford with a groin injury. Pochettino puts his trust in youth, which may see academy graduate Tom Carroll start, however, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb are fit again and may feature.

    The game comes too soon for Tottenham youngster Alex Pritchard, who is close to returning from an ankle injury, and Clinton N’Jie is also unavailable with a knee problem.
    Head to Head

    The two sides are among the top scorers in the Premier League this season, but neither were able to break the deadlock in August when they played out a goalless draw at White Hart Lane.
    Worryingly for the Toffees, that was the fourth time out of five meetings that they have failed to score against Spurs, while the Lilywhites are unbeaten in their last six against the Merseysiders (D3 L3).

    The corresponding fixture last term came on the final day of the season, with Kane scoring the only goal of the game to hand victory to the north Londoners at Goodison.

    Betting Odds (bet365)
    Everton: 9/5
    Draw: 5/2
    Tottenham: 13/8

    Match Prediction
    Everton and Tottenham are the draw specialists of the division with eight draws apiece so far. No team in the Premier League has shared the spoils on more occasions. A sensible prediction would point to a draw, a score draw perhaps. There is no doubting Everton’s ability to find the net, and I believe they will score against Mauricio Pochettino’s side. However, I can’t see the Toffees coping with the likes of Kane, Lamela and co. Defensively, Martinez’s side have problems, and I feel they will come undone to a well organised and confident youthful Spurs XI.

    Everton 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (20/1 with bet365)
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    Item Reviewed: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Tom Regan
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