Sunday’s visit of Spurs concludes a three game mini series against tricky opposition with a win for the Blues potentially sending us as high as third in the table. It won’t be easy though against a Spurs team in very good form and starting to gel under their new boss. After the recent spell of draws the game now appears to carry a ‘must win’ classification if we have serious ambitions for 4th spot given that a defeat could leave us six points adrift….
The AVB Project
Former manager Arry Redknapp’s approach to the game has been documented on here before in all its simplicity. Ex-forward Rafael Van Der Vaart once commented ‘we have a tactics board but Harry doesn’t use it’ with the wobbly headed crook’s pre match resembling a Mike Bassett style ‘Go and express yourselves’ approach. After failing to remedy the same mistakes he made 12 months previously, Bagpuss was given his P45 and sent to La Manga.
In replacing him, Spurs followed the FA’s long standing model of England Managerial recruitment by appointing the polar opposite in the shape of ’thinking man’ Andre Villas-Boas or ‘AVB’ if your a bad meff. the Portugeuse joined Porto via his dad as a 3 year old, wrote his first tactical report for Bobby Robson aged 17 and was a key reason for Mourinho’s Porto and Chelsea success stories. The UK media have derided his methods seemingly because they are different and he does mad stuff like take notes on a pad. His deployment of ideas in the prem so far has had mixed results, but I’d sooner have someone like him than a Redknapp figure any day of the week. Also, anyone who invokes ridicule from the moronic inferno of Talksport / Soccer Saturday is surely doing something right.
In terms of change, despite what the self facilitating media node would have you believe, the squad bestowed Villas Boas wasn’t great with a general imbalance in key positions with 38 centre backs, stock piles of goalkeepers but just 1 forward and no deep lying playmaker. In terms of transfers, Sigurdsson favoured Spurs cash to Liverpool and Brenny’s ‘ideology’ whilst a move for former toffee target Moutinho collapsed at the eleventh hour. Affordable quality was brought in through the excellent Dembele / Vertonghen with Dempsey also recruited.
On the ball….
Villa Boas has changed the playing style with Spurs playing more on the counter and less focused on possession with their share of the ball down on last seasons total from 56% to 48%. Last season’s game was a good example of how Spurs would have plenty of the ball but struggle against sides who sit deep with Spurs having 65% of the ball but creating little as we edged out a classic Moyes 1-0. As is the case with sides who play on the break, they score freely away from home were sides will come at them more, shown by the fact that only Man Utd have scored more goals on their travels with Spurs scoring the most goals from open play (11) on the road.
At Chelsea, Villas-Boas looked to play out from the back with a high defensive line and high pressure up field and there are similarities with this method at Spurs. Aaron Lennon appears to be the player who has most benefitted from playing further up the pitch with 2 goals and 3 assists and he will be the key man to watch from long diagonals given Baines natural offensive position and our high defensive line. Indeed, this was exactly how Spurs took the lead against us last season in the away fixture. Gareth Bale is injured for this one but I’d doubt his absence will have as much an impact as it might against other sides. The Welshman is someone we have usually ‘done a number’ on tactically with Coleman invariably deployed as a defensive wide-man, last season tracking him from one flank to the other as Bale fruitlessly went in search of the ball. As a result of our approach, Bale has not registered a goal or assist in any of the league games against us.
Off the ball….
At the back, Spurs have only conceded 79 shots on their travels which is the second fewest in the division after Man City. Spurs left side has been viewed as a weakness by opponents with Bale not quite as studious with his defensive tracking as he was a few years ago and often this has left Vetonghen with 1 v 2 situations on the flank. With Dawson injured, Gallas looks likely to start and the Frenchman always has the look of someone who could do something really daft particularly when defending from set plays. Moyes has a way of eeking out liabilities and praying on their weaknesses and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had something cooked up for Gallas. Whilst Kyle Naughton did well in last week’s win at Fulham I could see Fellaini looking to play on his height deficit at the back post from crossing opportunities on the right, most probably from Hibbert.
Villas-Boas will tweak dependent on the opposition as he has shown this season, usually deploying a 4-2-3-1 but notably sending out a 4-4-2 and then changing to a 3 man defence in the derby defeat at the Emirates. Personnel wise, I’d expect Hugo Lloris to continue in goal with Naughton and Vertonghen in the full back slots with Gallas and Caulker will most likely be deployed in the centre back berths. In midfield, Dembele and the impressive Sandro will hold with Lennon (right) Sigurdsson (centre) and Dempsey (left) as the attacking midfield trio behind the ruthless Defoe. Adebayor is available after suspension and started the Europa league game up top with Defoe in a 4-4-2 but I’d expect him to return for the bench for this one. This was roughly how they lined up last weekend as the player importance demonstrates…
For us, Kevin Mirallas is hoping to be fit to start which could mean that we are close to full strength with the exception of our skipper. Naismith has done well of late but will be the most likely to drop out should the Belgian be fit to start this one. Victor Anichebe also has an outside chance of being involved.
Last season the sides setup like this in the Goodison clash….
Everton are best prices with 11/10 with Coral whilst Spurs are best offered at. 86/29 with Pinnacle. The draw can be backed at with 33/13 also with Pinnacle.
Spurs had a less than taxing Europa League fixture tonight whilst we have had a full week to rest and prepare which would give us a slight advantage. Spurs form post European games has been decent though with just one defeat after Thursday night games, that coming at the Etihad last month.
Both games between the clubs last season ended in home wins to nil. In the last four at Goodison there have been on average 2 goals per game with an average of 2.3 goals per game during Moyes tenure. Spurs haven’t won at L4 in 5 seasons. Moyes came up against Villas-Boas 3 times last season with one win, one draw and one defeat with an average of 3 goals per game. The cert again will be in the both teams to score market, with our last 11 games delivering on this one (4/6 at willie hills).
Whereas we have drawn more games than any side in the league Spurs have either been very good or crud on their travels, winning 3, losing 4 and drawing 0. In terms of goal timing, the most likely time we score at home is between 21-40 mins with 68% of our goals coming in the first half of matches. You can get 9/2 with Willie Hills on our first goal to be scored between 31 mins and half time. A repeat of last season with Jelavic score anytime / efc win is offered at 10/3 with betfred. Score wise the likely outcome is 1-1 (13-2 willie hills) but I’m going for 2-1 Everton (8/1betfred)