The glut of Premier League matches continue this weekend, and the most enticing fixture to open the new year has to be Tottenham’s trip to Goodison Park on Sunday to take on Everton. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs are heading into 2016 with a firm grasp on the fourth spot in the table and nine points ahead of their visitors. Despite the relatively large gap separating these two clubs, their matchups in the past have proven to be tight affairs and Sunday’s match shouldn’t be any different. Can Roberto Martinez’s men pull off the upset, or will Tottenham start 2016 with a vital three points?
Few teams, if any, are in better form than Tottenham at the moment. Spurs have lost just once in their last ten matches and have won their last three straight. This three-game winning streak has seen the North London club score at least twice in each match, including a dominant 3-0 performance against Norwich. While their offensive potency has been a major key for success, what’s even more impressive is their near impenetrable defense. Only one team has managed to score more than once in the last ten matches and they’ve also been able to register three clean sheets. The combination of attack and defense makes Tottenham a tough customer for any club in the league and Everton could be in for quite a busy day Sunday.
The main man in my eye for Tottenham is Christian Eriksen. The Danish playmaker pulls the strings of Spurs’ attack. His creativity in the heart of the pitch opens up space for players like Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min to attack the opposition’s net. Everton don’t have a defensive midfielder that can contain Eriksen for all 90 minutes and we should see the 23-year-old have the opportunity for some brilliant moments. However, if Eriksen can’t set the pace in the midfield, Spurs could have some trouble creating consistent scoring opportunities.
Jamie who? The new hottest goal scorer in the Premier League is Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is now level with Vardy for the league lead in goals with 15. In his last seven league fixtures, Lukaku has found the back of the net eight times including braces against Stoke City and Aston Villa. The 22-year-old has already surpassed his goal record from last year by five and finally looks to have settled into his home at Goodison Park. His partnership with Ross Barkley has seemingly reached a new level this season and has made Everton one of the deadliest attacking forces in the league. Lukaku will need to have another great game if Everton hope to steal some points Sunday, and I think that the former Chelsea man is more than up to the task.
Through the first 19 matches of the season, Everton have allowed 28 goals (most of any club in the top ten) and have managed to keep just five clean sheets. A complete collapse against Stoke on Monday showcased the weaknesses of the Toffees defensive unit and Spurs are arguably more dangerous than the Potters. One of the big reasons for this poor defensive record has to be the declining form of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard, long considered a club legend, just doesn’t seem to be his usual self in net anymore and this can be seen in the results. At 36 years old, the American keeper could be edging closer and closer to the twilight of his career. Can he provide a vintage performance one more time against Tottenham?
Even though this match is be playing at Goodison Park, I think that Tottenham will walk away with the victory. Everton’s poor defensive record paired with the attacking force of Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane make Spurs the easy pick. Final score: Everton 1-2 Tottenham