I was reminded of Goodison Park when watching Colin Stein scoring for Rangers on the BBC news 40 years ago. Like Ibrox, Goodison Park also had a large area behind each goal yet a massive capacity. These days it is 12,000 lower due to the seating of the Taylor Report but for most of the last century the ground was considered to be one of the most advanced in the Country.
A visit to Everton is as tough a midweek away fixture as you can expect. Because of the atmosphere that the Evertonian’s produce if the team plays well. Like White Hart Lane fans now site close to the pitch and opposition players can find this tough to play in. Thankfully Spurs have a terrific recent record at this ground and it may be because it feels a bit like a home game.
It may also be because you never know which Everton are going to show up, the team who tussled with us and walked out of the Lane with a point or the walkover team who compete but cannot score and leak the odd goal. After three quick fire games over Christmas this final fixture comes before FA Cup third round weekend. Therefore, one last effort is needed before a rested team takes on Charlton on Sunday.
If we are to overcome the atmosphere we need to get them quiet from the start. Defoe finishes his suspension after this game so it will be up to Pav or Crouch to finish or set up Bale, Lennon or Van Der Vaart on the break.
We also will need another strong performance from Michael Dawson and with Billy Gallas a doubt as a result of a hamstring injury picked against Fulham Bassong may well come into the side. With Kaboul still suspended this could leave us a bit short at centre back if either fall to injury and with Hutton out with a foot injury Kyle Walker who has returned from his loan at QPR may be straight onto our bench.
With the exception of Palacios or Jenas the midfield picks it self so I find myself debating once more whether Pav or Crouch or Jenas or Palacios start the game. My hunch for this away game is that Palacios will start as if he gets booked he can be substituted and Crouch may get the nod for the extra aerial ability in defence as well as attack.
The good news is that the Asian Cup deprives them of Tim Cahill who causes massive problems for most opponents but hopefully the sloppy Sylvian Distin will be present to offer much needed hope to our misfiring attackers. Phil Jagielka may also be missing for the home side having aggravated his injury at Stoke.
So if we play well we have every chance of continuing our unbeaten run and if Everton play badly we might even get 12 out of 12. When was the last time we did that? My team for the game is:
Corluka Dawson Bassong Ekotto
Lennon Palacios Modric Bale
Van Der Vaart
Prediction: I’ll play safe and go for a 1 – 1 draw. If we score more I think we win the game.
And for those of you who need reminding of the old Goodison Park here is a short YouTube film of 1966 footage.