Behind Enemy Lines: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur

Everton supporters at Goodison Park
Total Tottenham talked to Everton fan Mike Taylor ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Goodison Park this Sunday.

This weekend’s opponent is Everton. A club with rich traditions and history, just like Spurs. Mike of Kings Of Goodison reached out to us to ask us a couple of questions prior to the weekend’s action. He was kind enough to return the favour and gave us the low-down on Everton’s season so far, his view on Tottenham’s current team and his predictions for the clash on Sunday.

Hi Mike. Good to talk to you ahead of Sunday’s game. Tell the audience a bit about yourself

My name is Mike, I am 22-years-old and the founder of the relatively new @KingsofGoodison page. I have supported Everton all my life – it wasn’t really a thing I had to choose as I was born into it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you make of Everton’s start to this season?

Positive. After a frustrating start with 3 draws in 3 games in which we completely dominated, results have improved since then and we are up there in the mix.

How are things under new manager Roberto Martinez? Have there been significant changes to the way Everton play?

Believe it or not, it’s the happiest and most positive I can ever remember Evertonians. The media would have lead you to believe Everton were set for relegation battles once a certain David Moyes went down the M62 to manage United. Many of us though, myself included, didn’t see it as the end of the world by any means. While he undoubtedly turned the club around during his 11 years here, he ultimately had too many negative tendencies which were preventing us from moving any further forward as a club.

The style changes have been quite drastic. It is very much pass and move and we have dominated possession in the majority of games this season. I read we had almost 70% possession against Hull the other week at home, something Martinez said was a PL record for us.

How would you assess Everton’s dealings in the transfer window this summer? Do you think Martinez brought in the right players?

I liked the way Martinez moved in the market, he was decisive and got the men he wanted. Did he get the right ones in? I don’t think it’s a simple yes or no answer. The jury is definitely out on Antolin Alcaraz who still hasn’t made an appearance for us due to injury, and Arouna Koné, who has so far managed to miss a chance from all of 4 yards, 3 yards and 1 yard out without scoring.

On the other hand, he replaced Fellaini superbly. Gareth Barry, who has quickly turned into a fans favourite, and James McCarthy are quickly forming a formidable partnership in front of our back 4. We look solid and composed in the middle of the park to the point where Fellaini hasn’t been mentioned since he left and the recent ACL injury to Darron Gibson doesn’t feel like as big a blow as it did last season. Lukaku has obviously been phenomenal and Joel Robles seems a promising young keeper who could perhaps replace Tim Howard when the time comes.

With 3 out of Everton’s 7 summer signings being loan deals, do you feel the club might have banked on short term success too much?

I would have normally agreed. But, Gareth Barry is in the last year of his contract and early signs suggest he could be ours at the end of the season. Lukaku is a brilliant deal even if it is just for the season, there is money there from the Fellaini deal so there’s still a chance we could pull a rabbit out of the hat, or at least have a contingency plan. We were also lucky to get Gerard Deulofeu, with a host of teams around Europe and yourselves reportedly chasing him. Again, there has already been talk of at least extending his loan by another 12 months, and the player himself has said it would be “difficult” to go back to Barca.

Ross Barkley has received rave reviews this season. How good is he really? And do you think Moyes might have overlooked his talent during his time at Everton?

I’m a huge, huge fan. I have been for the last 3 years and as you say, he was frustratingly overlooked time and time again by Moyes who preferred to pick his old favourites instead. Luckily and rightfully, Martinez has out his full faith in him this season and it’s already paying off. He’s become a marked man in recent weeks but he’s always a threat. He has everything – he’s skillful, has an excellent range of passing, he can shoot from anywhere, he’ll get stuck in, and he’s as strong as they come. One of the most complete players I’ve ever seen, he really is that good. He’s a really likeable lad as well.

He’s everything that Jack Wilshere thinks he is, and more Rooney than Rodwell.

Gerard Deulofeu was hailed as a massive coup this summer. Why haven’t we seen much of him so far?

The defensive side of his game unsurprisingly needed some work, and I don’t think it’s too much of a shock that we haven’t seen much of him so far. From what we have seen, he has the potential to win you a game and let’s hope we start to see that more and more as the season progresses.

Who has been Everton’s stand-out performer so far this season?

A straight toss up between Ross Barkley and Gareth Barry for me. I’m going to go with Barry, purely because of how quickly he’s convinced Evertonians how good he is. As City fans warned us, you don’t realise how good he is until he plays for you.

Where do you think Spurs will finish this season?

It’s difficult to predict, but the fact that you haven’t necessarily been playing the best but are still up there speaks volumes. You’d think all your new signings will only get stronger as the season goes on. I’ll say top 4. Just.

And where do you see Everton finish?

Again it’s difficult, but the positivity Martinez has brought has been refreshing. If the early stages are anything to go by, we’ll continue to surprise people. Without speaking to soon, I can see us getting back into European competition in some capacity next season.

Who are you most concerned about in the Spurs line-up?

Sigurdsson – because he always seems to do something special against us and he’s had a really good start to the season by the looks of it. I really like the look of Eriksen as well, he and Soldado (who I also don’t think has hit top gear after watching him for Valencia for the past couple of years) could form a lethal partnership. Perhaps similar to Barkley and Lukaku for us.

How do you feel about Sunday’s game? Do you think your team has what it takes to beat Spurs?

Absolutely. We can beat anyone on our day, and especially at Goodison. There’s no doubt it’ll be a tough game, but there is a really positive feel around the club at the moment and our home record has been fantastic. We’ve lost just 2 of the last 31 at Goodison.

Lastly, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

It’ll be close. I’m hoping we can shade it with a 2-1, but I wouldn’t bet against a score draw.

I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. Thanks for talking to us.

All the best for the rest of the season. Cheers.

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Dutch Spurs fan, football connoisseur and ambassador of free-flowing attacking football.

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