Originally scheduled for the opening day of the season Tottenham welcome Everton to White Hart Lane with the knowledge that winning this game in hand could put them to within three points of leaders Manchester City.
A strong festive period coupled with a few slip-ups from the two Manchester clubs has opened the door even wider for Harry Redknapp’s side to have a genuine go at the title. Spurs lost only once in December with their defeat at Stoke followed by a win-draw sequence in their five subsequent game. The formbook indicates that this one should end in a draw but with seven wins from nine games at home the omens look good for Redknapp and his players. Gareth Bale continues to destroy teams from his left wing berth whilst Sandro has stepped into fill the void left by the injured Scott Parker. Jermaine Defoe also proved his match winning credentials with the winner in last week’s victory over West Brom and will be keen to ensure he retains his starting berth in 2012 with the European Championships in the summer. Spurs do have issues with their back four after injuries to Ledley King, William Gallas and Michael Dawson all out for the foreseeable future.
Everton will look to exploit the hosts’ defensive weakness as they aim to bounce back from a demoralising defeat at home to struggling Bolton last Wednesday. Despite goalkeeper Tim Howard scoring an astonishing goal from inside his own penalty area it wasn’t enough for the Toffee’s as they lost for the fifth time at Goodison Park this season. Thankfully for David Moyes though his sides form on the road has been much stronger with four wins and a draw from eight seeing them pick up a majority of their 24 points away from Merseyside. Scoring goals proved to be an on-going problem in 2011 but the loan signing of Landon Donavon should remedy that to a degree with the American joining the club for a second time. The return of Victor Anichebe from injury has also boosted Moyes’ attacking options and will offer a better goal threat than Louis Saha and Tim Cahill with the latter without a goal in over a year. A lengthy injury list has also decimated a threadbare Everton side that will find it extremely difficult to leave North London with a win under their belt.
Tottenham Hotspur 3rd : 42 points
Last six: W D W D W L
Team news: Tottenham are missing key players Ledley King, Scott Parker, Sandro and William Gallas for this one although Michael Dawson has stepped up his recovery from an Achilles injury.
Key Player: Gareth Bale
It was a productive end to 2011 for the flying Welshman tearing Chelsea apart just before Christmas and scoring twice to secure three points at Norwich afterwards. His pace and power down the left will surely expose the Toffees down the right.
Everton 11th : 24 points
Form: L W D W D L
Team news: Everton’s treatment room makes for grim viewing and David Moyes will be without Seamus Coleman, Tony Hibbert, Jack Rodwell, Phil Jagielka, Ross Barkley, Tim Cahill and Leon Osman for the trip to North London.
Key Player: Landon Donovan
Everyone remembers the impact the American made during his first temporary loan spell back in 2009 and it’s no surprise to see him back at Everton. His intelligent play up front will surely give the Toffees a goal scoring threat they’ve lacked all season.
Tottenham started 2012 with a hard fought win over West Brom to show that they can win ugly. However they should easily overcome an Everton side beset by injuries and narrow the gap on City and United