Everton v Tottenham, Premier League, December 6, 2009
Considering these teams are battling it out at either ends of the table, this game should be a lot closer than both clubâ€™s current league position suggests.
The home side come into this match in touching distance of the relegation spots, a situation no one expected when the season started. David Moyesâ€™ side have won just one league game (away at West Ham) out of their last eight matches domestically and have been severely hampered by key injuries.
Long term absentees Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville and Mikel Arteta have been a major blow for the Toffees this season and it has been an uphill struggle to battle on all fronts. As a result, reaching the last 32 of the Europa League with a win at AEK Athens on Wednesday night was a fine achievement and Europeâ€™s second class competition could be a real chance for Everton to win some silverware this season.
Ironically, Everton could now face Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the competition and if they do meet, will be hoping to have a bit more luck than they received last Sunday. Although they lost 2-0, Everton were superior for much of the Merseyside derby and only the heroics of Pepe Reina stopped them from gaining a valuable three points.
Further injuries to Jo, Sylvain Distin and Dan Gosling in Athens give Moyes plenty of selection headaches for this encounter. As a result, youngsters Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy and Jose Baxter, who all played in the Europa League match, could get a chance against Spurs.
Since beating Wigan 9-1 at White Hart Lane, Spurs faced a run of three difficult away games crucial to the season ahead. Tottenham were highly impressive in the second half at Aston Vila and comfortably outplayed the home side to secure a draw. Much of the momentum from this result and the thumping win over the Latics may have been lost in the Carling Cup defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday night.
Against a second string United side, Spurs failed to make use of much possession and missed a great opportunity to reach the semi finals of a competition they have enjoyed in recent seasons. Harry Redknapp made his frustration quite clear in his post match interviews and he will have his side fired up for this one as they look to grab three points that would strengthen their challenge to gate crash the top four.
After performing poorly at Old Trafford, Robbie Keane is unlikely to start and the Toffees defence will have to deal with the Crouch-Defoe combination. Niko Kranjcar will also return after he was cup-tied for the game at United which should mean Aaron Lennon will start in his favoured position on the right.
Both teams will likely play attacking football and will go for the win at Goodison Park on Sunday. The likes of Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill will fancy getting on the scoresheet from deep as Darron Gibson did to such good effect in midweek. Whilst Spurs have already beaten Everton this season in the Carling Cup and will be fully aware that this is the sort of game they must win if they are to qualify for the Champions League next season.
101gg predicts: Everton 2 â€“ Tottenham 2 (12/1)
Full match odds here.