Gana Back To Boost Blues For Tottenham Clash

by Paul McNamara

Sam Allardyce will be able to call on fit-again Idrissa Gana Gueye for Everton’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Midfielder Gana Gueye was sidelined for the Toffees’ past two matches, against Manchester United and Liverpool, after aggravating a hamstring problem in Everton's final game of 2017, at Bournemouth.

But the Senegalese could be poised to return at Wembley, where Allardyce wants his team to strike a potent balance between defence and attack.

Yannick Bolasie is also ready to continue his comeback in north London after completing his first full 90 minutes since November 2016 in last week’s FA Cup tie with Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Allardyce admits the former Crystal Palace flyer has exceeded expectations following his recovery from a serious knee injury. But after seeing Bolasie’s skill and direct running cause Liverpool all manner of problems – in addition to the 28-year-old's promising outings against West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth and Manchester United – the manager insists there is plenty more to come from his exciting winger.

And he is pleased to have the opportunity to choose from a greater pool of players than at any time since taking charge six weeks ago.

“Idrissa Gana Gueye is fit again and training,” Allardyce told evertontv. “Seamus Coleman is training with the first-team squad – although Leighton Baines is a good way off yet.

“But getting Seamus, Yannick and Gana back is boosting the squad, which is getting a little stronger in terms of its depth.

“Yannick is not up to speed yet. We have not seen the full-blown Yannick Bolasie, not by any stretch of the imagination – not on what I know and have experienced over the past few years playing against Crystal Palace.

“But what he is contributing is good – and probably more than we could have expected following such a long injury.

“He is doing very well but there is still a lot more to come.

“What he is contributing is pace, which we need. He is attacking full backs when he gets the opportunity and delivering quality crosses.

“If I have to say [he could work on] anything, it would be for him to improve his quality of finishing.

“His assists and attacking threat are great – if we can get more goals out of him that would be even better.”

Everton are preparing to meet a Tottenham team fighting for a Champions League qualifying spot and which has scored 42 goals in its 22 Premier League matches this term.

Spurs have lost only one of their past eight top-flight games – against runaway leaders Manchester City – and won six and drawn four of 11 league fixtures at their temporary home this season.

Allardyce, then, is conscious of the importance of his side being switched on defensively in order to contain Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

But he is using Everton’s second-half display against Liverpool last week – when the Toffees offered a consistent threat going forward, only to be beaten by a late goal from a corner – as a blueprint for his game-plan this weekend.

“Our only slip up against Liverpool was not defending a corner properly in the final minutes of a game where we were defensively very sound and, in attacking terms, much, much better than the previous time we played at Anfield,” said Allardyce.

“We will implement the same policy at Tottenham. There are weaknesses in Tottenham’s side. They have attacking, flair players who, sometimes, can be played round and played through to expose the defensive spaces they leave.

“If we are good at that, as we were at Liverpool, we will get opportunities at the other end. The big question for us is, how clinical will we be?

“We have not been clinical enough, not just since I have been here, but across the whole season.

“When we were clinical, we won games of football – against Swansea, West Ham and Huddersfield.

“At the moment, that ability to create a chance and put the ball in the back of the net has left us.

“When we get those chances we need to convert them into goals.”

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