MX23RW : Thursday, December 27 13:42:49

Preview: Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

The final Premier League match before Christmas sees Everton host Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.

The two sides go into the match in contrasting form, with Everton having slipped down to eighth in the table while Spurs sit third, just six points off the leaders.


Marco Silva in charge of Everton on October 5, 2018© Reuters

Everton are only three short of becoming the first team in English top-flight history to score 7,000 goals, but it is a long time since they ruled the roost and right now they are battling for the title of 'best of the rest' behind the top five or six.

A disappointing spell of form has seen the Toffees slip behind Wolverhampton Wanderers into eighth place after 17 games, although victory on Sunday could see them jump to sixth depending on results earlier in the weekend.

Still winless in December, Everton have picked up just two points from the last 12 on offer and it is entirely possible that the gut-wrenching nature of their Merseyside derby defeat at the start of this month was the catalyst for their slump in form.

Draws against Newcastle United and Watford followed before they fell to defeat against champions Manchester City last time out, albeit having battled their way back into the game at one stage.

The Toffees have not suffered successive defeats since September, so they will be glad to be back at home for this one given the alarming disparity between their form on the road and in front of their own fans.

Eighteen of their 24 points have been accrued at Goodison Park - a tally which would leave them fifth if only home form counted - while they are unbeaten in their last six Premier League outings on home turf and have lost just one of their last 12.

The ultimate aim for Marco Silva is to drag Everton into contention for a top-six spot - which is by no means out of reach considering Manchester United's poor form - but to do that they will need to improve their record in these matches.

Everton are winless in their last 22 league outings against teams from the established top six, losing 16 of those in a run which stretches back to January 2017.

The Toffees will no doubt be pleased to hear that this is their last such match until February 23, with Silva's side facing a relatively kind end to 2018 and start to 2019.

However, anything they can pick up against Spurs will be a welcome Christmas bonus for them and would end the prospect of them sitting in the bottom half by the time they kick off against Burnley on Boxing Day.

Recent Premier League form: DWLDDL


Mauricio Pochettino applauds on December 11, 2018© Reuters

Spurs are in something of a quandary right now; the more they succeed, the greater the interest in manager Mauricio Pochettino is sure to grow from Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The Argentine's name was immediately put forward as the main suggestion for a replacement to Jose Mourinho following his sacking earlier this week, and Pochettino himself did not exactly douse the flames when questioned about it.

It is easy to see why he is so well-regarded too. Since the beginning of 2016-17, only Manchester City have amassed more points than Spurs, who have already picked up a Premier League club-record 39 this term.

Indeed, the last time Tottenham had a superior record after 17 games of a top-flight season came in 1960-61, when Bill Nicholson's legendary side not only won the club's last league title, but also became the first team to win the Double in the 20th century.

The difference this season is that they are not the dominant force in the league with that points tally, although they will also not consider themselves out of the title race just yet.

Only six points separate Spurs from leaders Liverpool at the start of the weekend - and five from second-placed Manchester City - and while Pochettino's side are relying on slip-ups from a couple of teams who have not shown many signs of obliging, they are still in the conversation as we approach the halfway stage of the campaign.

Tottenham should be flying ahead of this game too, having picked up only their second-ever win at the Emirates Stadium to dump bitter rivals Arsenal out of the EFL Cup, reach the semi-finals themselves and reclaim the local bragging rights just two-and-a-half weeks after losing them on the same ground.

Spurs survived some missed chances and the woodwork being hit three times, but they were still good value for their win and now face an EFL Cup semi-final against Chelsea as their reward in January.

The win over Arsenal means that it is now just one defeat in 12 for Pochettino's side - a run which also includes 10 wins and an away draw against Barcelona to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Tottenham's away form has been a major part of that; they have picked up more points than any other team on the road so far this term, and their tally of eight wins from 10 games is already more than they managed in 20 of their 26 previous full seasons in the Premier League.

It should be noted that Spurs have also played more away games than any other team this season due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding their new stadium, and settling into that new home quickly could be the difference between them finishing in the top four and perhaps sustaining a title challenge, or playing Europa League football next season.

Recent Premier League form: WWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWDWW

Team News

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring Tottenham Hotspur's second goal against Chelsea on November 24, 2018© Reuters

Harry Kane will return to lead the line for Spurs on Sunday, having only been a substitute against Arsenal at the weekend due to illness.

The England captain has scored a brace in each of his last three league appearances against Everton, and should he manage another on Sunday then he would join Michael Owen - against Newcastle - to have ever scored two or more goals in four consecutive Premier League games against a particular opponent.

There could be a return for Davinson Sanchez at the back as he recovers from a hamstring problem, which frees Ben Davies to move back to the left side of defence, having filled in at centre-back for the past two games.

Dele Alli and Son Heung-min will both expect to keep their spots after scoring against Arsenal, but Christian Eriksen has been treated cautiously this season and may miss out if he is not fully fit.

Everton, meanwhile, will hand a late fitness test to Idrissa Gueye after he missed the defeat at Man City with a groin strain.

Key players Richarlison and Andre Gomes both missed training earlier this week due to illness, but both have recovered in time for this match, while James McCarthy is edging towards his return.

Richarlison is expected to lead the line once again, having scored four goals in his last four Premier League home games.

Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Zouma, Keane, Mina, Digne; Walcott, Gomez, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Richarlison

Tottenham possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Son, Alli, Eriksen; Kane

Head To Head

Everton have not won this fixture for more than six years since a late 2-1 triumph at Goodison Park when both Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar scored in stoppage time.

Spurs are unbeaten in 11 meetings since then, winning six of those including each of the last three.

Indeed, Tottenham's tally of 25 Premier League wins against Everton is their best against any club in the competition and includes victories in both matches last season by an aggregate scoreline of 7-0.

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We say: Everton 1-1 Tottenham

Spurs are the only team yet to draw in the league this season - indeed one more game without sharing the spoils would equal the Premier League record of 18 from the start of a campaign - but we're backing Everton to get something from this game. The Toffees are hard to beat at home and Spurs may therefore be forced to settle for a point.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Everton and Spurs?

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring Tottenham Hotspur's second goal against Chelsea on November 24, 2018
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