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Everton v Spurs, 09.05.09


Referee: - Lee Mason

Attendance: - 36,646

Everton (4-5-1):- Howard; Neville (Capt.), Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Gosling (sub Osman, 69), Fellaini, Rodwell, Cahill, Pienaar; Jo (sub Saha, 69)

Subs not used: - Nash; Jacobsen, Castillo, Wallace, Vaughan

Booked:- Lescott, Pienaar

Spurs (3-5-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King; Hutton, Jenas, Huddlestone, Modric (sub Pavlyuchenko, 81), Bale; Keane (Capt.), Defoe

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Gunter, Chimbonda; Bentley, Rose; Campbell

Booked: - Hutton, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko

Spurs show early promise, but ultimately a lack of adventure.

On top of all the late injury news we received yesterday, Harry Redknapp had to re-shuffle his side yet again, due to the tragedy affecting Spurs midfielder Wilson Palacios, who has lived with the knowledge of the kidnap of his young brother for over 18 months and now has the knowledge of the apparent death of this 16 year old innocent. In offering our deepest condolences to Wilson (assuming the tragic news is confirmed), we should remind ourselves of the relatively minor place football has in life.

However, the appointed task of this website is to report upon football events, and that we will do. A 3-5-2 formation had been forecast in some circles yesterday, but the late withdrawal of Palacios gave Tom Huddlestone the lynch-pin role in the three man midfield between Jenas and Modric, with Hutton and Bale playing as wing-backs, and Corluka, Woodgate and King across the back. Robbie Keane had his usual role, playing behind Jermain Defoe.

Everton also had a five-man midfield, behind loan striker Jo, but in that midfield the likes of Fellaini and Cahill were often getting forward fully in support of Jo. The most advanced of the midfield was man of the match Steven Pienaar, who was often allowed too much space in the gap between Corluka and Hutton, and who showed most of the creative skills on display in a game short of excitement and the magic spark that sets the crowd alight.

I wouldn’t say that the game was end of season fare, despite the fact that Everton have an FA Cup Final to look forward to at the end of the month. Despite their absentees (and the most missed had to be Aaron Lennon), Spurs had the potential to be adventurous and perhaps gain the win they needed to give themselves a real chance of seventh place. Indeed, Spurs did start brightly, and it was the wing-backs – especially Bale who got down the flanks and offered balls to those who made it into the middle. Modric was helping Bale, and Jenas was also getting forward to good effect, often inspiring decent moves on his own account.

Tom Huddlestone got a few blocks in, and made a couple of good long passes to the wings, but I am afraid he just lacked that bit of fire in the tackle on too many occasions. The formation didn’t seem to suit his style today. Modric worked hard as always, but Everton were diligent in their own half, often double teaming any threatening Spurs player, whether it was Bale, Hutton, Modric or Defoe. Robbie Keane will get a lot of stick from Spurs fans after today’s game. I saw plenty of effort and gutsy interventions, but he is out of touch and the ball just didn’t go for him again today.

There is little to report about the match itself. I always enjoy the run-out of the players to the Z Cars theme, but in some respects it was all downhill from there. Everton have to be one of the most partisan of crowds in the Premier League, and whilst not necessarily the noisiest, it actually becomes a major irritation how they moan at every decision the referee makes against their players. Personally, I thought that Lee Mason had a good game.

That bright start by Spurs (playing towards the away end) included a cross after 7 minutes by Bale. The ball went low and hard and fell to the feet of Keane, whose on target shot was blocked on the edge of the area. Everton had a little pressure, but the most threat was when Gomes punched out a Pienaar cross. After 16 minutes, Defoe made a header and put it in the direction of Hutton who was fouled just outside the box by Lescott who saw yellow as a result. Bale took the kick, which went well over, but was allowed a re-take as Pienaar got booked for encroaching too early. Bale’s second kick was closer but still over the bar.

Jenas put Keane through, and another on target effort was blocked and went out for a Spurs corner. Keane also just failed to make contact with a Defoe cross from the right. Defoe worked hard, and was to be found in his own half after the break, often making successful tackles of the sort I would have liked to have seen from Big Tom. One of Everton’s stars was Jack Rodwell. Rodwell is just 18, but took advantage of the space he was afforded in the middle. It was Rodwell who took the ball from Baines just before the break, after a good Everton move from right to left, before firing a good effort over the bar across Gomes’ bows.

After the break, Jenas made a good tackle on Pienaar, who crumpled in a heap whilst Spurs moved the ball to a good position down the opposite flank. Play was halted for Pienaar to get his treatment and that was the end of one of Spurs few attacks of note in this half.

Cahill got a hot on goal that went over, after Huddlestone came off worst of the two in a challenge for a loose ball. Then after 60 minutes, Gomes caused a little panic when he took two attempts to hold a cross from the left. Other than this though, it has to be said that the defence held firm throughout, although the second half did resemble a backs to the wall job for too much of the time. Jenas led another move through the middle, feeding Modric, whose ball to Keane was not good enough.

A Pienaar corner reached another Everton youngster – 19-year old Dan Gosling – who hit a shot that bounced once before going out of play off the outside of Gomes’ right post. Gosling was them immediately replaced by Leon Osman, now a veteran of 10 seasons at Everton.

Spurs last decent effort (and their best of the game) came when Hutton passed inside to Jenas, who fed Defoe, whose effort was just outside the post. Pienaar had a shot at the other end, harried by Corluka, which might just have helped the shot go just off the target. Pavlyuchenko was a quite late replacement for Modric, and had no chance to make an impact.

Spurs were generally pegged back in the second half, whereas they really needed to show the sort of adventure that had been evident in the first half. With Fulham beating Aston Villa today, the “Cottagers” are in the box seat for Europe, but Spurs did at least spend the night in eighth place. Fulham’s remaining games are at Newcastle, who will be desperate, and at home to Everton on the last day. Spurs will have a big game at home to Man City next week, and will surely need something at Anfield in two weeks’ time if they are to take another trip across the water. Come on Spurs! We’d take 10 times as many fans as Fulham!

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