This weekend we were meant to see Everton make the long journey down to North London to face Gareth Bale, but now we don’t know who we’re playing after the whole Tottenham team (Bale) were injured during their 2-2 draw with FC Basel on Thursday evening. A whole team a doubt for a game as big as this is unprecedented, and the Premier League must surely be considering postponing the game?
Now to the serious preview
Whilst the news that Bale is potentially out of this game of massive importance to both teams is the pre match headline grabber of course there is still the matter of 11 vs 11 on the day. Tottenham are a much weakened team without the mercurial midfielder but still pose enough of a threat for Moyes and the boys to concentrate fully on preparations for this game.
There had been talk of another man marking masterclass by Coleman again, with Coleman given the freedom to follow the Welshman around wherever he goes. How much of the weeks leading up to this game will have been lost on these preparations?
Whilst I fully expect Everton to return to their tried and tested 4-4-1-1 formation at Spurs, Moyes may throw a surprise and retain the formation that beat Stoke last weekend as I believe it actually offers us more defensive stability rather than less as the numbers would suggest.
3-5-2 is essentially one of them fluid formations that allows players to use their intelligence to decide where they should be at any given time. In years gone by this would have been suicidal for any Everton team as we lacked players with enough of a footballing brain to make these decisions correctly (this is not to slate them, but the tag of hardworking Everton can from the rigidity of their play). Now however we have players of a high football caliber such as; Baines, Mirallas, Gibson, Osman and this season more and more Seamus Coleman. With players like this formations become meaningless as they will go where they are required and the 3-5-2 becomes 5-4-1 becomes 3-3-4 depending on the phase of play.
Added to the skilful, fluid players add to that mix two of the best defenders in the league plus our 2011-2012 player of the year and you have a solid back-line you can build from. Jonny Heitinga seems to be rediscovering a bit of form and having the stability of Jags and Distin around him will only help with that. Jonny has always suffered with a chronic lack of pace and this is something the other two have in spades so perhaps this formation is best for the rearguard too.
The stats show us that Tottenham have been carried by Bale this year given that he has scored 17 of Spurs’s 53 goals in the league this year and got 3 assists on top of that. With Defoe, who is also out, contributing another 10 goals and 3 assists that is over half of Spur’s attacking threat gone from this game. Their main threat would appear to come from the right hand side in this game with the speedy Lennon bombing down the wing feeding crosses in to Adebayor. As we have already discussed with the potential of 3 tall commanding centre backs this should be no problem.
Before last nights game and Bale’s injury I was looking at a draw here, possibly 1-1, but now I am more optimistic. Arsenal, Chelsea and ourselves have been waiting for the time when Tottenham’s charge would falter, and it was assumed this would be if/when Bale got injured, it will be interesting to see how they cope without him.
Prediction 0-1 Everton.