Everton Club Focus – Spurs match and Moyes anniversary overshadow forthcoming derby

Next week will mark David Moyes’ 10th anniversary as Everton manager but before any celebrations can be countenanced there is the small matter of a double header against first Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park and then Liverpool at Anfield in the Merseyside derby on Tuesday.

Ordinarily, little could overshadow the prospect of a trip across Stanley Park to meet Liverpool but a combination of Moyes’ impending anniversary and the prospect of Spurs travelling to Goodison has to an extent done just that. Everton’s form has been such that supporters are actively looking forward to watching Everton at home, an about turn from earlier in the season when turning up to Goodison was more a duty than a pleasure. Since Everton have won their last four home matches, scoring seven goals in the process, there is a sense of enjoyment around the old ground. To contrast with just how much Everton’s home form has changed, Everton only won four home matches before the turn of the year compared to the four since late January.

That is not to say the visit of Tottenham will be easy, or that anyone at Everton expects it to be so. The confidence around the club is not misplaced however, even if Steven Pienaar will be missing when his current side meet his parent club on Saturday evening. Everton have been relatively untroubled by the two sides of Spurs’ calibre they have met at Goodison lately, as Manchester City were dispatched 1-0 and Chelsea seen off 2-0. Factor in Tottenham’s patchy form – convincing defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United in their last two games – and the pieces could be in place for a fifth straight Everton triumph. Yet it would be distinctly Evertonian to slip up just as the good times are returning, and the presence of former Everton striker Louis Saha suggests the law of the ex may well come into force.

Moyes’ milestone is another topic dominating discussion more so than the derby, but will not be reached until the day after Everton and Liverpool have duelled once more. With two proud clubs in such proximity to each other, in a city that is not geographically divided into areas of support for each club as a Glasgow, Manchester or London are, it is only natural for Everton or Liverpool to compare themselves to each other, a short-term judgement that Moyes’ longevity should put to bed even as the derby looms. In his time at Everton Moyes has managed against Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson and now Kenny Dalglish and while his record may be mixed, the fact that Moyes is still in place as Liverpool managers have come and gone is a triumph in itself.

The spectre of the derby is lingering in the background, ready to come to the fore once Spurs have left Merseyside, but that the most important match in Everton’s calendar cannot displace talk of Moyes’ 10th anniversary indicates just how special an achievement it is.

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