Everton-Tottenham Hotspur Preview

RYAN WILLOX (STATS Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Tottenham Hotspur and Everton clash at White Hart Lane on Sunday in what promises to be a pivotal match in the pursuit of Champions League football.

Visitors Everton (12-9-3) hold the upper hand going into the game.

The Toffees boast a one-point lead in the league table and a significant advantage in goal difference having scored six more (37) and conceded seven fewer (25) than Spurs.

The sides drew 0-0 at Goodison Park in early November in a game largely notorious for a head injury sustained by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Lloris was knocked out in a collision with Romelu Lukaku but played out the game despite then manager Andre Villas Boas's apparent desire to replace him with Brad Friedel.

Tottenham (13-5-6) midfielder Christian Eriksen thinks his side need to capitalize on every opportunity on Sunday if they are to avoid a serious blow to their European aspirations.

"It is a really important game," the Danish international told the official club website. "Last time we started really well and I think in the first half we should have been in front. Then they got into the game but we still had our chances, especially in the first half when we played really good. So I think there are possibilities this time to make our chances count.

"All the teams in the Premier League are hard to break down of course, but Everton are on a run and they've got a lot of confidence. But we know what we are capable of and hopefully it's going to be a good game."

Toffees defender Leighton Baines credits first-year boss Roberto Martinez with implementing a style of play leaves Everton well placed for crunch encounters like Sundays match.

Baines recently signed a long-term contract extension with the Merseyside outfit and says he based his decision partly on a culture change by Martinez implemented with Champions League nights in mind.

"I think because of the way we're working if we can get it right and get the players playing well there's no limit to it," Baines told the official Everton club website. "If we can do it well it's the style that probably all the top teams in Europe play and so we've just got to up our levels as players to try and execute it as well as we can and as I say there's no limit to that then."

"If we then manage to qualify for Europe then the style that we play immediately translates to European football. We don't have to adapt, we're already built for it at the moment."

Spurs have won just two of their last seven home Premier League matches against the Toffees, but are unbeaten in the last four. Spurs have secured two wins and two draws from Everton's last four visits to the Lane. The Toffees had won the previous three league matches at White Hart Lane.

Everton have dropped just one of their last seven Premier League meetings with Spurs overall, a 2-0 loss in January 2012. They have recorded three wins and three draws in that span.

Going back to the 2007-08 season, Tottenham have won just two of 13 league meetings with Everton, losing five and drawing seven, including the last two.

Everton boss Martinez will have to do without Lukaku. Arouna Kone, Darron Gibson and Brian Oviedo but Seamus Coleman and Gerard Deulofeu could potentially be available depending on how they respond in training.

Spurs boss Tim Sherwood is likely to have Moussa Dembele and Andros Townsend available for selection but will be without midfielders Erik Lamela and Sandro for the match.

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