Tottenham and Everton back in action after European excursions
Sunday’s early afternoon fixtures could throw up a surprise or two, as match favourites Tottenham and Everton have both been in Europa League action midweek. The duo tasted victory on the continent, but need to improve domestically if they are to enjoy further European exploits next season.
Tottenham v Stoke City
Despite their shaky form this season, Tottenham (odds-on favourites with Coral at 8/11) enter this encounter following a Europa League victory and a vital Premier League win over Aston Villa last time out.
The north Londoners can also take confidence from their excellent recent record against the Potters, who have been unable to beat them in their last five clashes in all competitions.
Stoke (4/1 to steal a surprise scalp or 11/4 to draw) are also battling history, having only emerged triumphant twice before when visiting their hosts.
However, Mark Hughes’ side are always tough to beat, and will receive a fitness boost going forward by the return of striker Peter Crouch (11/4 to grab a goal anytime). Meanwhile, Marko Arnautovic, who broke his hand in training, is apparently able to play through the pain.
Just like his team, Mame Biram Diouf (8/1 to fire home first) should also not be underestimated as a threat, with the attacker having scored two in his last two games.
Mauricio Pochettino, however, faces a striker conundrum, and until the refuge of the winter transfer window appears, it could be a decision that shapes his White Hart Lane future.
The Spurs coach recently spoke of being under pressure to play academy product Harry Kane (9/2 to net last), who has scored eight times in his last eight appearances in all competitions.
Pochettino said: “He is English, he is young and from the Tottenham academy so it is normal. If we were in Argentina, it would always be a sensitive situation.”
Misfiring forwards Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor have been sharing Premier League game time this term, whilst 21-year-old Kane is still yet to start in this competition. But Nacer Chadli, who has struck five times already this term, is available at 13/2 to open the floodgates.
Sunderland v Everton
Northeast hosts Sunderland will have enjoyed a significant boost from their much-needed victory against Crystal Palace last time out.
Now, after clambering away from the relegation zone, the Black Cats will want to get back to business and are 12/5 to split the spoils from this clash.
Gus Poyet’s boys had suffered demoralising back-to-back league losses before downing Palace. However, with four own goals racked up in their last three games, much of their woe has been self-inflicted.
If the Black Cats can rally, and keep their error-prone backline in order, they should present a tough challenge for an inconsistent Everton. Striker Steven Fletcher, who bagged his second brace of the season last time out, is in fine form and 2/1 to be on target anytime, or 11/1 to score two or more again.
Meanwhile, Jack Rodwell is available and could feature against his former club, as Lee Catermole serves a suspension.
Roberto Martinez’s men have several injury doubts ahead of their trek to the Stadium of Light, with Gareth Barry and Seamus Coleman undergoing fitness tests and experienced centre back Sylvain Distin set to step in for sidelined Antolin Alcaraz.
Although the Black Cats have beaten their visitors twice in their last four outings, the Toffees (21/20 to win) have an excellent record on Wearside, with just one loss at the Stadium of Light in their last 10 clashes in all competitions.
Martinez will be hoping his boys are buoyed rather than exhausted by their midweek win over Lille, and should be able to introduce a rested and refreshed Samuel Eto’o (4/1 to draw first blood) and Ross Barkley (15/2). Steven Naismith continues to be a menace this term and, after netting again last time out, is 11/2 to close the scoring once more.