This weekend’s game with Spurs should be a good yard stick to the progress we have made under Roberto Martinez . I’m not sure how you quantify yard stick measurements in football though or what this even means so we’ll move on.
In the opposition dugout, Villas Boas has been getting some heat from his own fans lately, perhaps as a result of their play lacking in terms of end product – they are the lowest scorers in the top nine with just nine goals so far. All things considered though I don’t mind the AVB Project, even if has the look of a bloke who watches the eff 1 with a Porsche cap on. Cholesterol face Allardyce and Bagpuss Redknapp seem to hate him so he must be doing something right.
At the other end of the pitch, their frugality has seen them accrue the most cleans sheets (6) in the division. They will look to condense play and press in their opponents half – they’ve caught more opponents offside and recovered more loose balls in the opposition half than any side in the division.
They are far from faultless though and last season they looked particularly dodgy down their left side and their inability to defend crosses led to 3 of the 4 goals we bagged against them last season. This excellent Spurs site gives some great intel on such weak points and specifically the goals they have conceded this campaign if you have a thirst for more nerding.
Likely Line-up Appraisal
Hugo Lloris – French stopper who has kept the joint most clean sheets in the top flight this season. Pretty good on the ball and often acts as a sweeper with Spurs high defensive line. Makes few high profile mistakes.
Kyle Walker – Yorkshire born right wing back. Due to his speed and athleticism he would no doubt have been a first pick in youth football. The less said about his defensive awareness the better. Averages the most passes (65) per game which is the most for a fullback/wingback in the league. His combination with Townsend down the right flank has been Spurs most prolific interplay in their last 2 games. Assisted in the 2-2 draw last season and gave Baines plenty of problems.
Jan Vertonghen – His 77% defensive duel success rate means he has won more personal defensive 1v1s than anyone in the squad and his frame means he is particularly good at hoovering up second balls. Set up the opening goal in the 2-2 last season and is a threat going forward. His matchup with Coleman should be a key one- the Irish marauder has never been on the losing side to Spurs and has a goal and 2 assists in his 6 games against them. Played the full 120 mins in midweek and could be susceptible to the Barry diagonal to Mirallas in behind him.
Michael Dawson – Right sided centre back and the second most prolific long passer in the league after Jagielka. Has also won the most offside’s in the top flight as Spurs main offside trap executor.
Vlad Chiriches – Two footed elegant Romanian centre half who can also play centre mid or right back. Reminds me a bit of Ricardo Carvalho in that he can bring the ball out of defence really well and also looks like a malnourished lanky rat. An excellent player in the making.
Sandro – The burly Brazilian made the most tackles, interceptions and fouls in this fixture last season. No wonder candle head Arry labelled him the new Socrates. Due to his leggy display last week Mousa Dembele – an incredibly laid back left footed midfielder with cute slaloming dribbling skills -could replace him although Sandro provides a more resolute defensive platform and I think he’ll get the nod if fit.
Andros Townsend – Has made the most shots per game in the top flight and the most dribbles in Europe’s top 5 leagues but this endeavour has yielded just 1 goal 0 assists and it makes you wonder if he’s more Adel Taraabt than Chris Waddle. His stock is far too high to make such outlandish comments in public however.
Paulinho – Right footed box to box midfield general who has probably looked the pick of Spurs scattergun summer transfer crop. Does most things well and can play 6, 8 or even 10 .Has few weaknesses and playing the full 120 mins v Hull shouldn’t make much difference given his super human energy levels. Should be a nailed on starter for Brazil in the World Cup.
Lewis Holtby – Germany’s left footed answer to James Milner. He’s versatile with a decent left peg and will ‘put in a shift’ defensively with perhaps 10% more between his ears than Milner, but for me he isn’t as big a threat as Sigurdsson. Supposedly an Everton fan on the sly.
Aaron Lennon – Still seemingly looking for his best form this season but is always good at dribbling and committing players. His record of 1 goal and 2 assists from 12 games against the toffees doesn’t exactly make you want to hide behind the couch when he gets on the ball. Turned out last week on the left and if he does so again expect him to run predominately inside. Given the value of midfielders on Spurs bench you wonder if he’ll become a permanent Europa league bitch this season.
Roberto Soldado – Two-footed forward who scored bags of goals at Valencia but thus far has just one goal from open play. Even the tactical nerd cop out line of ‘he has great movement’ looks a bit of a stretch with this cat as he rarely moves ‘into the channels’ although in his defence he has created the most chances (14) for his team mates in the Spurs squad.
With both sides evenly matched and again rubbing shoulders with each other in the higher echelons of the table this one certainly has all the ingredients for a Goodison humdinger. Spurs certainly won’t be relishing a visit to a ground they haven’t won in six seasons and where only 1 visiting side has taken maximum points in over 18 months in the league.
Villas Boas hasn’t beaten Martinez in their 3 previous games and only a late howler from Robles denied Wigan a maximum 6 point haul against Spurs last season. I think we can edge Spurs out in this one and I’m going for 1-0 Everton, although it’ll be very difficult and ‘both teams to score’ would be a decent safety wager.