Just as the season begins to build its early momentum, the first international break looms around the corner. And with the circus that is the transfer window about to come to its end on Tuesday evening the intense speculation that has clouded Everton’s summer and start of the season surrounding the future of twenty one year old centre back John Stones took another huge twist towards what looked to many its inevitable conclusion on Tuesday afternoon when he handed in an official transfer request.
The National media has been predicting such a scenario for some time. But given the young defenders level headedness and apparent willingness to continue to give one hundred percent to the Everton cause while the media circus continued to escalate around him, this turn of events still came as a surprise to some, including it would seem Roberto Martinez.
The conspiracy theorists would have you believe the whole saga has been played out meticulously by the Everton board to turn Stones in to the pantomime villain deflecting any blame away from themselves and on to the youngsters doorstep. The situation has striking similarities to the eventual sale of Joleon Lescott to Manchester City in 2009. Evertonians have still not forgiven Lescott for the way he seemingly manoeuvred his departure from the club but in truth he is just one of several that have been sold on by the club at a huge profit in the last ten years. The fact that Bill kenwright has since publicly denied the transfer request and stated that Stones is not for sale has put pay to those suspicions for most. But the fact that the whole saga has deflected attention away from the desperate need of squad reinforcements has not been lost on the majority of the Everton fan base. And if these additions are not forthcoming come 6 pm on Tuesday evening several fingers will be pointed in the direction of the Everton boardroom and in particular Bill kenwright.
In the midst of all the drama it would be easy to forget there is an actual football match to contest come Saturday teatime. White Hart Lane has not often been a happy hunting ground for Everton over the years. And Everton haven’t won there since 2008. On paper at least this would seem a difficult task for Everton but then so did Southampton a fortnight ago. Although Everton lost against Manchester City at Goodison Park in their last outing they actually came out of the game with considerable credit. Indeed the Blues could well have gone in at half time two goals to the good on another day. A debatable offside decision and a crossbar coming to the aid of the City defence on this occasion. But in truth City were the better side overall and deserved their win.
How Everton react to their first defeat of the season though will determine where we go from here. All to often last season a defeat was swiftly followed by another making it impossible to build any momentum. Spurs have not had the best of starts to the campaign and will be looking for their first win on Saturday so we will have to be at our best if all three points are to be earned. Although given the fact that the Cockerels look far from assured this season we may just be meeting them at the right time.
Spurs have spent heavily in recent seasons. It could be argued though that their transfer policy is far from successful and more often than not the clubs major signings have failed miserably to hit the heights their hefty price tags would justify. Several big names such as Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Emmanuel Adebayor and Erik Lamela have failed to make their mark in the Premier League for Spurs and the revolving door is often in full use at the Lane.
Again this season Tottenham have been busy in the transfer market. Primarily strengthening the defence. Two centre backs have joined the club in the form of Kevin Wimmer and Toby Alderwiereld. And right back Kieran Trippier has joined from Burnley. Cameroon forward Clinton N’Jie was also added from French side Lyon. But in true Spurs tradition several players have gone the other way too. Paulinho, Lewis Holtby, Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue have all been moved on after failing to make an impact at White Hart Lane.
Last season Harry Kane’s 32 goals put a gloss on an average season for Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping for a similar return from the striker this season. But it is in the middle of the field were Spurs look most vulnerable. A central duo of Ryan Mason and Eric Drier looks to be the weak point in the side and Tottenham’s pursuit of Southampton powerhouse Victor Wanyama would suggest Pochettino is not completely happy with his options in the middle of the park. With the transfer window set to slam shut on Tuesday evening it appears Spurs could once again be active in the transfer market.
Everton head in to this one on the back of 120 gruelling minutes at Oakwell on Wednesday evening so the squad will have to be assessed before Roberto Martinez can name his starting eleven. Brendan Galloway is a major doubt after being taken off during last weekends defeat to Manchester City and Seamus Coleman didn’t feature at all on Wednesday. Definitely out are Leighton Baines, Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Tony Hibbert.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Christian Erikson would again miss out after missing last weeks draw at Leicester City. Andros Townsend though will be given a late fitness test.
Gerard Deulofeu was outstanding when he was introduced as a second half substitute on Wednesday flipping the contest on its head with three assists. He will be pushing for a place in the starting eleven but after missing the majority of pre-season his fitness levels may be a cause for concern. Everton looked a lot more dangerous with Deulofeu and Mirallas on either wing and the attack looked impressively balanced allowing Ross Barkley to run from deeper and dictate the play with a lot more authority than we’ve seen from him in the past. A pointer perhaps to were he may be best suited to play for the immediate future. But Roberto Martinez does tend to favour one outright winger rather than two and with Bryan Oviedo looking more than a little vulnerable on Wednesday and Brendan Galloway injured expect Cleverley to play on the left of midfield.
Predicted team. 1. Howard 2. Coleman 3. Oviedo 4. Jagielka 5. Stones 6. McCarthy 7. Barry 8. Barkley 9. Lukaku 10. Deulofeu 11. Cleverley.
Both teams have had mixed starts to the fledgling season so far. A disappointing draw against Watford at Goodison Park was followed by a hugely impressive display at St Mary’s against Southampton. And although Everton then lost to Manchester City’ some encouragement would have been taken by aspects of the performance against Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Tottenham Hotspur have endured a highly frustrating start to the campaign. Losing on the opening weekend of the season at Old Trafford to Manchester United. But in truth they were largely the better side. They then twice lost leads in games to Stoke City and Leicester City, drawing on both occasions. Two points from a possible nine is not what Spurs fans would have envisaged when looking at the opening fixtures in June. A home win then is much needed for the North Londoners this weekend.
Everton have lost only one of their last five away games, winning three. And their last two visits to the capital have resulted in wins. Although we have never won three London games in a row in the Premier League. Theres not much between the two sides despite last seasons difference in league positions. And although Roberto Martinez does not normally fare well in head to head games against Pochettino, winning only once in five meetings, these games generally tend to be tight affairs. The second half performance on Wednesday evening proved that in full flow Everton can be potent in the final third. And with Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku and Mirallas all firing on all cylinders its difficult to see the Tottenham back line keeping them out. Defence is an undoubted issue but Spurs are prone to conceding themselves this season. As long as Wednesday’s extra time hasn’t had too much if a detrimental effect on the teams energy levels, Everton could well just edge this one and in doing so crank up the pressure on the Spurs boss just a little bit more.
Last three Everton 0 Spurs 1 Spurs 2 Everton 1 Spurs 1 Everton 0.
Score prediction Spurs 1 Everton 2.