Everton’s fast start to the WSL seems a long time ago now. Having won their first four opening fixtures of the 2020/21 WSL season the Toffees have won only one once in their previous nine WSL matches. And that victory was at home against bottom side Bristol City.
Tottenham Hotspur have experienced almost polar opposite fortunes. Karen Hills and Juan Amoros were swiftly removed after Spurs started the season winless from their first seven games. The arrival of Rehanne Skinner has since seen Spurs win three of their past five WSL matches. Most impressively, Spurs only defeat of the season at home has been a closely contested 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Only Manchester City (84%), Arsenal (81%) and Chelsea (81%) boast a higher pass accuracy this season than Everton (76%). The Toffees have also completed more passes (4984) than any other team outside of the top four. Everton will thrive on keeping the ball, dominating the midfield and playing with plenty of width.
If Skinner’s team can adapt to playing without the ball, by playing ambitious counter attacking football, then they have a chance to upset their lofty opponent.
The match kicks off Sunday 28th February at The Hive Stadium at 14:00 GMT.
Spurs’ first choice keeper Becky Spencer is expected to be out for the third match in a row with an unnamed injury. However, the lengthy lay off because of weather postponements and the international break could see her welcome back to the starting XI.
Shelina Zadorsky started every match for Canada in the She Believes Cup this past week, so she may be unavailable due to fatigue and/or quarantine.
The majority of Everton’s international stars, including Valerie Gauvin and Alisha Lehmann, remained on Merseyside during the break, so expect a near full strength starting XI for the Toffees.
Tottenham: Mikalsen (GK), Percival, Harrop, McManus, Worm, Cho, Kennedy, Addison, Graham, Naz, Ayane
Everton: Korpela (GK), Turner, Sevecke, Finnigan, Wold, Christiansen, Graham, Scott, Raso, Gauvin, Lehmann
Ones to watch
The tough tackling Ria Percival will be Spurs’ first line of defense. The hybrid defender/midfielder leads the entire WSL in total tackles won with 38.
Ahead of Percival, marauding between the midfield and attack, Kit Graham will be crucial to kick starting Spurs’ offensive passage of play. She ranks in the top 8% of the WSL for successful dribbles per 90 minutes, with 2.69. Whilst Graham is yet to log a goal or an assist this season, her bright surging runs on the ball, since the turn of the year, have been a highlight for Spurs going forward.
Izzy Christiansen has started every match for Everton this season and has brought her trademark mix of steel and skill. Her set piece delivery has been essential to creating goals. Of Everton’s 23 goals this season, she has been involved in eight(35% of the total).
Since moving to Everton on loan in the January transfer window, England legend Jill Scott has also reignited her season. Scott’s relentless energy and enthusiasm has helped bring a spark back to Kirk’s team. If Scott can be the engine, then that will help Christiansen concentrate on picking the passes to attack the box.
Last season’s 2-2 at The Hive Stadium was dramatic, right until the end. Kirk’s Toffees somehow contrived to throw away a two goal lead in the final 22 minutes of the match.
Goals either side of half time, from midfielders Chloe Kelly and Inessa Kaagman, had given Everton the sturdy lead. But Spurs began to rally when Angela Addison headed in the first for the North Londoners in the 68th minute.
Eight minutes later Rosella Ayane was sent off for kicking out on Kelly, but the player advantage didn’t show. Emma Mitchell masterfully curled in the equalizer from a direct free kick in the 78th minute. Kirk will be adamant the same capitulation doesn’t happen this time.
How to watch
This match will be broadcast on the FA Player worldwide.