Roberto Martinez is expecting to come up against a very different Tottenham side on Sunday than the one his Everton team played to a goalless draw at Goodison Park last November. There is much riding on the clash between the two sides on Sunday, with Everton just a point ahead of Tottenham in the battle to close down Liverpool for the fourth and final Champions League place. Since their first meeting of the season, of course, Tim Sherwood has replaced Andre Villas-Boas in the Spurs dugout. And Martinez suggested that change could lead to a more open game this time around.
“Spurs are one of the teams in form,” he said, according to Everton’s official website. “Since the new manager has come in, they play with a real freedom. “I think they have got rid of that responsibility and tension of having a lot of money spent in the summer -- I think it's the opposite now. "They have a very good group of players trying to enjoy their football. They come out in games expressing themselves. I feel that they are a difficult side to face now and it's going to be a terrific test.”
After a hugely disappointing 4-0 loss to Merseyside rivals Liverpool, Everton produced a much-need and impressive response last weekend. A goal down to Aston Villa with just over 15 minutes remaining, Martinez’s side turned things around with goals from Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas.
Everton will again be without striker Romelu Lukaku, but the man signed on-loan from Monaco to provide cover for the Belgian, Lacina Traore, could be involved for the first time. Definitely included in the squad will be another loanee, Gerard Deulofeu. The exciting Barcelona youngster has been out with a hamstring injury since mid-December.
Tottenham have also been boosted on the injury front, with Andros Townsend set to be involved after a seven-week absence with a hamstring injury. Also in contention will be Mousa Dembele, after the midfielder missed last week’s draw at Hull City with an ankle problem.
That disappointing result against a struggling Hull side means that Tottenham have now taken just one point from their last two matches, having previously been brushed aside by Manchester City. After a positive start to his reign in the Premier League, Sherwood can ill-afford a defeat at White Hart Lane on Sunday if Tottenham are to continue to push for a place in the top four.
Prediction: Sherwood has proved more flexible in his tactics than he initially suggested by changing from his 4-4-2 system based on the opposition. At home, but against a side as good at keeping the ball as Everton, Sherwood’s lineup will prove for interesting reading on Sunday. Still, Sherwood’s adaptability to date has only stretched so far and his side has remained open and attacking. If it is a two-man frontline he opts for and without a natural holding midfielder then Everton’s young attacking midfielder Ross Barkley could have a big influence. Expect goals and quite possibly a share of the points.
Tottenham 2-2 Everton
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 8.30 a.m. ET on Sunday. Television coverage will be provided by USA, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.