Premier League Previews – 9th Feb 2014
Spurs v Everton: Venue: White Hart Lane (13.30KO)
Tottenham winger Andros Townsend is in contention to face Everton after an eight-week lay-off with a hamstring injury.
Mousa Dembele should also be available after missing the draw with Hull because of an ankle injury.
Everton’s Gerard Deulofeu is fit after a hamstring injury, while loan signing Lacina Traore has overcome a similar problem and could make his debut.
Seamus Coleman is set to return to the starting line-up after injury.
After Liverpool v Arsenal on Saturday, the Liverpool v North London theme continues and as a result, Spurs and Everton’s clash will have been thrown into even sharper focus.
This may even prove to be the most significant league meeting of the two since Spurs, then in second place, lost at home to league leaders Everton on a Wednesday night in April 1985. Everton, buoyed by the win, went on to win the eighth of their nine titles. I remember it because I was there, my first trip to White Hart Lane, filling time around a university interview.
Everton’s first season under Roberto Martinez has been little short of spectacular. No team has lost fewer matches, only Arsenal and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals and they are four points better off than at this stage of last season.
The worry now may be that injuries have already put a small squad under pressure. Everton need all their tried and trusted big-game players fit and ready week, in week out.
Spurs also have more points than at this stage of their last campaign, 44 compared to 42, yet somehow there’s a feeling that they’ve underachieved.
It seems as though the Gareth Bale transfer still casts a shadow over the Lane. Proof positive that even £85m is no compensation for a player who at his best is a genuine world beater. Paulinho, Eriksen and on occasion Chiriches have shown their worth, but Chadli, Capoue, Soldado and Lamela have a lot to do before they look any more than expensive squad players.
Spurs have spent £100m but still look four or five players short of the top teams. It’s as though there’s a glass ceiling over London N17 through which the club just cannot break.
Maybe Tim Sherwood’s more aggressively attacking style is the answer? Or maybe it will just expose their weaknesses? As usual at Spurs, nothing is straightforward.
- Tottenham have won just two of their last 13 Premier League matches against Everton.
- They first met 110 years ago this week, with Spurs winning an FA Cup tie at Goodison Park. Sunday’s game will be the 167th meeting between the clubs. Tottenham lead by 60 wins to Everton’s 55, with 51 draws.
- Spurs are two points better off than at the same stage last season, when they went on to record the most points (72) by a team finishing fifth in a 38-game top-flight campaign.
- They have scored in all eight Premier League games under Tim Sherwood, winning five, drawing two and losing once. Only the current top three clubs have earned more points in the same period.
- However, Spurs have only earned 11 points from their last 10 home fixtures (W3, D3, L4).
- Tottenham have gained the fewest points (2) in home matches between the top seven teams this season.
- They are yet to lose a league game from a winning position this season.
- Everton’s tally of 45 points after 24 matches is their best since 1986-87, when they had 47 points.
- The Toffees have conceded a league-high six penalties this season.
- Roberto Martinez’ side have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches, although their overall record of 25 goals conceded is bettered only by Chelsea and Arsenal.
- Leighton Baines has yet to register a Premier League assist this season; he trails goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has one assist.
- Kevin Mirallas has scored in three of his last four league appearances.
A close game to call, Everton need to transfer their away draws into wins and Spurs will want to keep pace with their north London rivals. a BTTS game looks guaranteed at 4/6 with bet365. We think Everton will just edge it so an Everton double chance at 7/10 with bet365 is another worthy of consideration
Man United v Fulham: Old Trafford (16.00 KO)
Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic, who has announced he will leave the club at the end of the season, is available after suspension.
He could replace Jonny Evans, who is out with a calf strain, although fellow defender Phil Jones is available.
Fulham’s record signing Kostas Mitroglou is likely to make his debut, either from the start or off the bench.
Fellow transfer deadline day signing Johnny Heitinga is also expected to be involved for the first time.
So dire is Fulham’s predicament that some thought Rene Meulensteen wouldn’t make it as far as his Old Trafford return this weekend.
As it is, the Dutchman will take his 16th game in charge of Fulham, but unless he can quickly get his team to stop conceding goals and gain some points the speculation about how many more matches he’ll have will only increase.
Alan Curbishley’s appointment as technical director just before Christmas was supposed to help Meulensteen but it’s looking more like a millstone for him at the moment. Ironic really, given that the current head coach was himself brought in to ‘help’ Martin Jol in November!
Meulensteen’s assessment that Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay defeat by League One Sheffield United meant Fulham had “hit rock bottom” might not be correct – they could take more crushing blows yet. The Cottagers have lost each of their last 11 games away to Manchester United, and this one is followed by Liverpool at home on Wednesday.
Of course, United away is not now the foregone conclusion it used to be for visiting sides. United anywhere isn’t, having lost five of their last eight games in all competitions.
The announcement of captain Nemanja Vidic’s end-of-season departure wasn’t a huge surprise and underlines the transitional phase the team (and indeed whole club) is in at the moment. It might even help with the understanding of just what David Moyes faced in taking the ‘impossible job’.
Finishing fourth is veering more towards that category too with every result like last week’s at Stoke – United’s eighth league defeat of the season. They haven’t lost as many of their first 24 games since 1989-90.
Fourth place though IS essential for Manchester United – and that means winning games like these. Handsomely.
- Manchester United have won their last 11 league and cup games against Fulham at Old Trafford, scoring 30 goals.
- Fulham have avoided defeat at United only once in 51 years – a 3-1 Premier League victory in October 2003, when Lee Clark, Steed Malbranque and Junichi Inamoto scored for the visitors.
- United have kept five clean sheets in their last six home league games against Fulham.
- Manchester United are 19 points, seven wins, six places and 20 goals worse off than at the same stage of last season. It’s their lowest points tally after 24 matches since the 1990-91 season, when they also had 40 points – and lost their next three matches.
- They have lost four Premier League home matches this season – the most since suffering six defeats at Old Trafford in 2001-02.
- David Moyes’ side have only dropped four points from winning positions, the best record in the division.
- Robin van Persie has scored six goals in his last seven league appearances.
- Wayne Rooney has scored in five of United’s last six games against Fulham in all competitions. In total, he has 10 Premier League goals against Fulham for United.
- Fulham have lost 13 of their last 16 league games, including the last four.
- Their last three Premier League games have been goalless at half-time but they have lost all three, conceding a total of seven goals without reply.
- Under Rene Meulensteen, Fulham have conceded 29 goals in 11 games, five more than they did in 13 games under Martin Jol this season.
- They have gone 20 Premier League games without a draw, the second longest such run in the Premier League behind Bolton’s 28-game streak between March and December 2011.
- Meulensteen spent 12 years as a coach at Manchester United between 2001 and 2013, apart from a six-month spell as manager at Brondby in 2006-07.
Whilst the game looks a foregone conclusion, sometimes they rarely turn out to be. Fulham coach Meulensteen will want to make an impact on his return to Old Trafford. He will certainly want a response after recent inept defending and the cup exit to Sheff Utd. We see a BTTS game which looks great value at 11/10 with bet365 and under 3.5 goals at 4/6 with bet365 another to consider?
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