FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 21ST FEBRUARY, 2007
EVERTON 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee: - Uriah Rennie
Attendance: - 34,121
Everton (4-4-2/4-5-1):- Howard; Neville (Capt.), Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott; Arteta, Fernandes (sub Hibbert, 85), Carsley, Osman; Beattie, Anichebe (sub Naysmith, 46) (sub Vaughan, 90)
Subs not used: - Wright; de Franca Anderson
Booked: - Anichebe, Neville
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Lennon (sub Malbranque, 79), Jenas, Zokora, Tainio; Keane (Capt.), Berbatov
Subs not used: - Cerny; Stalteri; Ghaly; Defoe
Booked: - Dawson
Spurs reverted to their usual form against Everton, winning their 17th of the 30 Premiership contests between the two sides. Add to that figure the 10 draws, and only 3 defeats, then it truly can be said that Spurs would love to play the Toffees every week! Whilst Spurs did nick the points with an 89th minute winner by Jermaine Jenas, they had taken the initiative from their hosts in the latter stages of the game, and did look the more likely winners, after spending the first part of the second half under pressure form a 5-man Everton midfield.
David Moyes’ boys (and no doubt the manager himself) were booed off the park, and it was Moyes who took the bulk of criticism from home fans, who were dismayed by the removal of recent signing Manuel Fernandes in favour of right back Tony Hibbert. Fernandes, who had spent a loan period at Portsmouth earlier in the season, was impressive, as was the Everton scorer Mikel Arteta, who gave Young-Pyo Lee problems down the wing, and nearly added to his goal with a second half effort or two. Another substitution by Moyes took place at half time, when young Anichebe was replaced by Naysmith, and Everton reverted to a five-man midfield, which did give Spurs a lot to think about, and gave the home side more of the possession as a result.
Everton had started without two of their best players, Andy Johnson, who suffered a knock during the team’s training trip, and Tim Cahill, who was suspended for this game. Between them, they have provided 16 of Everton’s goals this season, and Spurs must have sensed a point or three in the air. Spurs brought back Jenas, and moved Tainio out to the left, with Malbranque relegated to the bench. Double scorers from the Fulham game, Keane and Berbatov carried on up front.
There was little of note that occurred in the opening phase of the game, except for a couple of early bookings for Anichebe and Neville for fouls on Gardner and Berbatov respectively. The first half chance came for Spurs after 20 minutes, when Berbatov nodded down a ball from Jenas, but Tim Howard was alert to Keane’s presence, collecting the ball from his feet. Then Robinson had to dive to his left to save Osman’s low shot, after a Yobo free kick. At the other end, Lennon was in the middle to receive a long ball, and hit a left foot shot that was held by Howard.
Spurs took the lead in the 35th minute, when Tainio broke down a move in the middle and passed to Lennon on the right, just inside the Everton half. Lennon tore away from Lescott, and put in a deep cross that found Berbatov in space towards the back of the area. Dimitar hit a fine shot back past the keeper into the far corner for his seventh Premiership goal, and fifteenth in all competitions.
Sadly, Mr Rennie had everything to do with the loss of the lead three minutes before the break. The assistant referee had flagged for a foul on Michael Dawson by Anichebe, but Mr Rennie not only saw it the other way (despite consultation) but decided that Dawson warranted a yellow card. Rennie got ritual abuse from the visiting fans, and Arteta compounded our misery by lodging the free kick into the net to the right of Paul Robinson.
Arteta took another free kick just after the break, which reached Osman, whose shot was wide of the mark. After 50 minutes, Robinson had to make a sharp save from Osman, after Beattie had beaten Lee down the flank, crossed and Osman hit a slow shot, after a failed clearance by Zokora. Robbie Keane did very well to hold up the ball with his back to goal, and lay it off for Berbatov, whose right footed shot was saved by Howard. Osman had yet another chance, this time from a header, when Arteta sent in a free kick from the right hand side.
With ten minutes left, and Spurs looking like holding out for a point, Martin Jol replaced Lennon with Malbranque. Lennon had made little impact in the second half, but his replacement was to have a crucial input! Firstly though, Jenas got down the left channel, and passed inside to Berbatov, who fired over. Then Keane had a golden chance to score, when Berbatov headed down, and Robbie was inside the box, at an angle on the left, with only the keeper to beat. The shot was hit badly into the back of the side netting. Tainio surged forward, Zokora style and fed Keane, whose cross/shot was nearly converted by Berbatov, and then, with two minutes to go, Malbranque threaded a ball to Jenas, who was 20 yards out, and despite being faced by three defenders, managed to squeeze an excellent shot through the wall, hitting the net low to the right of the despairing Howard.
Jenas had once again been important to Spurs at both ends, making a crucial headed clearance, as well as his efforts in attack. After so much flack from many Spurs quarters, surely he must now be recognised by the fans as well as he is by Jol, who must make him one of his first choices when fit. This was Jenas’s third goal in four games, and fifth of the season. I even saw one story on one of the “cowboy” web sites yesterday which suggested he might be allowed to leave in the summer. All I can say to that is - surely not!
So, it was a happy journey home last night. I said before this week’s fixtures that Spurs need to win at least two of the three games to regain lost pride, and morale, not just amongst the squad, but also their followers. Now we can say with more confidence, “Bring on Bolton!”
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