I always feel nervous before games against Everton, it’s a hangover from the days before the Abu Dhabi petrodollars landed in Eastlands when it was only the Toffees and us who periodically challenged Sky’s Big Four; our games provided a measure of who was more likely to finish in that hallowed fifth placed spot. As you might imagine, Thursday night’s pummeling by the Swiss when added to the injury to Bale hasn’t helped the twitchiness of my sphincter muscle ahead of the visit of Leighton Baines and his crew on Sunday afternoon.
Everton have had an inconsistent season but one with more ups than downs. They’re currently six points behind us but with a game in hand so won’t have given up yet on a top four spot. They’re on a good run with nine points from their last three league games, that sequence was preceded though by 2-1 loss at Norwich and punctuated by a surprise 3-0 home Cup defeat to Wigan. Inconsistent, as I say.
There’ll be no “welcome back to White Hart Lane” to Steven Pienaar, he and Marouane Fellaini are both suspended, a great boon to us obviously. Tony Hibbert is injured but otherwise they look to be at full strength. As usual the Goodison side appears at first glance to be more full of labourers than artisans but that’s doing a disservice to the likes of Mirallas, Jelavic and the aforementioned Baines all of who are capable of sprinkling a little bit of stardust amidst the ghosts of the Dogs of War.
As for us, well, I don’t where to start really. Apart from the problems with injuries, form, fatigue and tactics we’re fine. I’m in the habit of underestimating the resilience of our side and I really hope I’ve done it this time as personally I’m struggling for optimism. We’re not a one man team but we are a one man attack and to know that that man is sitting somewhere with a bag of frozen peas on his ankle instead of strutting his stuff on the pitch is not a good feeling. Assuming these players are ready to play I suspect we’ll go with something like Lloris, Walker, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Siggy, Dembele, Parker, Holtby, Dempsey and Ade. Carroll must be close to a start though if he’s not injured and Villas-Boas may think that Huddlestone’s passing could be fitted in somewhere; his mobility is a risk though. How we miss Sandro.
It’s a big game, but aren’t they all? Andre Marriner is down to referee. COYS.
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