Everton are unbeaten at home this season and will be hopeful of keeping that record intact when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park (3pm GMT, Sunday).
The Toffees are currently sixth in the Premier League table on 23 points, just three points behind Chelsea in third and Tottenham in fourth.
David Moyes’ men started the season in fine form, defeating Manchester United 1-0 on the opening day before recording a further three wins in their next five matches to sit second in the table after six rounds of fixtures.
They have, though, won just once more in their subsequent nine matches, drawing seven including last weekend’s 1-1 stalemate away to Manchester City.
Moyes will have been happy to come away from the Etihad with a point against the reigning champions, but is unlikely to have been similarly enthusiastic following recent draws against Norwich and Queen’s Park Rangers, or indeed the one defeat of their recent good run: away to Reading.
Everton’s primary problem has been their inability to keep clean sheets. They have kept just two all season and have conceded the first goal of the match on seven separate occasions. They are conceding more regularly than last season (1.27 per match, compared to 1.05) despite fielding a fairly stable back four.
Everton have improved their goal return, scoring an average of 1.67 goals per match in comparison to 1.32 last season, which has allowed them to keep picking up points despite their defensive frailties.
Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines have continued their fruitful partnership on the left, while Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith have each chipped in with a decent number of goals. But it is Marouane Fellaini who has been the star performer thus far, scoring eight goals in 13 appearances.
Fellaini has been in particularly good form over the last month or so, scoring five goals in his last five appearances, as well as providing two assists for team-mates. His aerial prowess is clearly his primary offensive attribute. He is also a good long range shooter and is someone Tottenham will have to keep a close eye on if they hope to emerge victorious on Sunday.
Spurs are in an excellent run of form at the moment having won three Premier League matches on the bounce. They also sealed their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League with a 3-1 win over Panathinaikos on Thursday.
Andre Villas-Boas’ men are currently fourth in the table with eight wins, two draws and five defeats to their name. There were a few setbacks in the early part of his nascent reign, but there have been clear signs in recent weeks that after a period of adaptation his charges are warming to his techniques.
The return from injury of Moussa Dembele has given Spurs additional drive and incision in midfield. The Belgian international has already become an integral cog in the workings of Villas-Boas’ side, his strong dribbling and precise passing helping to open up opposition defences.
Tottenham have generally been very impressive in attack, scoring 28 goals to date, the joint-second highest total in the division. Jermain Defoe has benefited greatly from the extra playing time afforded to him by Villas-Boas, scoring nine goals in 15 appearances, just two less than he managed in the whole of last season.
Defoe still may not be the ideal lone striker, but his movement and elements of his link up play have been much improved this season. He will, however, now see his first team place come under threat from Emmanuel Adebayor, who is back in contention after serving a three-match ban for his red card against Arsenal.
Spurs have been less worthy of praise defensively, conceding 23 goals, the joint-sixth worst record in the Premier League.
Injuries have certainly contributed, with Villas-Boas having to contend with the long term absences of Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto in addition to small knocks picked up by Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker and William Gallas that have caused each of them to miss one or two matches.
With Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto set for returns within the next few weeks and French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris now having displaced Brad Friedel between the sticks, Villas-Boas will hope that an upturn in defensive solidity is just around the corner.
Everton v Spurs Betting Tips
Everton have avoided defeat at home this season and have the necessary offensive capabilities to cause a porous Spurs defence some problems. Spurs, though, have been excellent in attack themselves this season and are certainly capable on getting on the score-sheet against an Everton defence prone to errors.
Moyes and Everton supporters will surely be getting fed up with sharing the spoils this season, but we feel a score draw is the most likely outcome on Sunday.