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Spurs v Everton, 14.08.07

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
TUESDAY 14TH AUGUST, 2007
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) EVERTON 3 (3)

Spurs scorer:-
Gardner, 26

Everton scorers:-
Lescott, 3
Osman, 37
Stubbs, 45

Referee: - Mark Halsey

Attendance: - 35, 716

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Kaboul (sub Rocha, 17), Gardner, Stalteri (sub Routledge, 66); Keane (Capt.), Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque; Bent (sub Defoe, 61), Berbatov

Subs not used: - Cerny; Huddlestone

Booked: - Malbranque, Jenas

Everton (4-4-2):- Howard; Hibbert, Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Neville (Capt.), Carsley, Osman; Johnson, Anichebe (sub Jagielka, 79)

Subs not used: - Ruddy; Valente, McFadden, Pienaar

No bookings.

I have spent many pleasurable hours over the last week, re-living my teenage years thanks to BBC Pirate Radio Essex commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the official demise of the Pirate Radio stations on 14th August, 1967. I’ve been re-living the sixties. As I endured a depressing half-time, by which time Spurs were already 3-1 down and the game was lost, I thought of the classic sixties Jimmy Ruffin song “I’ve passed this way before”. And, of course we have all approached the season this year and many times before in waves of optimism, only to be dissipated rapidly by so many poor Spurs performances.

Tottenham Hotspur Football club likes re-living the sixties too, as at half time they wheeled out the legendary Bobby Smith to promote “The Opus”, coming to a Spurs club shop near you in December for a sum of several thousand pounds only. This is a club that wants your money so badly, that it issues not one, not two, not even three, but ladies and gentlemen, four replica kits this season. This is a club that sent its season tickets out so late that most fans have been panicking over whether or not they would even get to see their beloved team this week. This is the club that even failed to allocate Sunderland tickets to two of its Platinum “One Hotspur” members last week.

Apart from the music, another glorious thing about the sixties was the fact that Spurs were a trophy winning side, and all the off-pitch problems this year would be easier to bear if only the team (and of course the coaching staff) could produce the goods on the field of play. This they have signally failed to do in their first two games, and they sit deservedly bottom of the Premier League table. On current form we might (might I say) beat Derby on Saturday, but Man Utd and Fulham away, then the gooners at home, look unsurpassable to me, and another desperate start to the season beckons. Champions League? We certainly are having a laugh.

Once again we had to face up to the absence of two centre halves, three left backs, and Aaron Lennon. The loss of the injured Younes Kaboul after only 17 minutes did not help either. The fact that Martin Jol chose Robbie Keane and not Wayne Routledge to play right wing also did not help. The fact that Everton got an early lead, that they were allowed almost the freedom of the centre of the pitch, that Arteta was given acres of space, that Johnson and Anichebe looked sharp and mobile, that Everton generally looked sharper, had more desire and were fitter than Spurs did not help. If you ask me there is so much wrong with the on-pitch activities of our beloved Spurs that we can forget about glory this season. Oh, how I hope I have to eat my words.

Everton were on their way to their second consecutive White Hart Lane win, and only their fourth Premier League win against Spurs after two minutes, when Arteta floated in a free kick to the 6 yard box, and Lescott rose to head home convincingly. Once again, it was Kaboul who led the way for Spurs after 8 minutes, with great work down the right channel, sending the ball to Malbranque, who had a shot on, hesitated then failed with his attempted pass to his left. Malbranque worked hard all night with varying degrees of success, but too often took too long in making a pass, which was easily read the Everton by the time it was made. Bent had a shot from a sharp angle on the right a minute later, fed by Chimbonda. Howard saved and Berbatov’s follow-up was deflected over for a corner.

Everton nearly went two up when Johnson ran the ball to the bye-line after 14 minutes, and back-heeled to Anichebe, whose shot was held by Paul Robinson. Rocha replaced the injured Kaboul, and after 22 minutes, after a throw on the right, Robbie Keane advanced with a flick over the defence in the same way he had when scoring the brilliant goal against Blackburn 18 months ago. Berbatov put his shot over the goal. Next minute, Keane crossed from the right, but Berbatov couldn’t make the height of the ball. Spurs won a corner through Malbranque’s efforts, taken by Jenas and headed down and up into the goal by Anthony Gardner, delighted to win back some favour with the fans.

Spurs didn’t press for a lead though and Everton regained the lead in the 37th minute, when they broke from the middle and Arteta was given yards in which to manoeuvre and cross. The ball was only half cleared as far as young Osman, who also had three yards of freedom, and gratefully fired home. Five minutes later, Stalteri was penalised on the edge of the box, and Arteta’s free kick was only just over the bar. Spurs first half misery was complete in added time, when none other than Stubbs stepped up to hit a 25 yard free kick, deflected slightly, but enough to leave Robinson flat-footed and to watch the ball pass into the net to his right on the narrow side of goal.

There was no attempt at a quick fix from Martin Jol at half time, and from the kick off, Spurs fed the ball back to Robinson, whose long clearance did reach Chimbonda, who passed inside to Keane. Robbie tried a shot, but Howard had it covered at his left post. Shortly after another Chimbonda cross was headed by Berbatov wide of the beaten Howard, but against the post. Bent’s follow up was nowhere near the goal. Everton countered and man of the match Arteta’s shot was deflected by Gardner for a corner.

Bent was replaced by Defoe, and at last we had some natural width on the field when Wayne Routledge replaced Stalteri. Zokora filled in at left back, and Routledge showed a bit of guile that Spurs could have done with earlier in the game. The much-heralded (at least by the fans) Adel Taarabt was not even on the bench. Overall though, it was Everton who came closer to increasing their lead, and with Jenas, Malbranque and Keane short of creative spark, Spurs failed to create enough scoring chances. Johnson and Anichebe combined well, and Johnson was assisted by a rebound from Gardner, before hitting a shot that Robinson saved shoulder high.

Spurs best chance came from another Chimbonda cross, which Defoe fired at Howard from beyond the back post. Howard was able to make the save, conceding a corner. Dave Moyles consolidated his lead by replacing Anichebe with midfield signing Phil Jagielka, and the Blues shored up across the midfield. Johnson had two more attempts before the end, one of which was saved by Robbo from a sharp angle, and in added time he had to make another quite desperate save from Johnson.

Many of the home crowd had sloped off by now, and the Everton fans were able to chant and celebrate being “Top of the League”, whilst Spurs have to hold up the table. Some of us were wondering if we could get refunds on our season tickets, but we all know “We’ll pass this way again”

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