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Everton v Spurs, 05.01.11

(8 P.M)

Everton scorers:-
Saha, 3
Coleman, 75

Spurs scorer:-
Van der Vaart, 11

Attendance:- 34,124

Referee:- Mr. L. Probert
Assistants:- Mr. S. Burt & Mr. D. Mohareb
Fourth Official:- Mr. N. Swarbrick

Everton (4-4-2):- Howard; Neville (Capt.), Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar (sub Osman, 86); Beckford (sub Yakubu, 77), Saha (sub Rodwell, 88)

Subs not used:- Mucha; Hibbert; Bilyaletdinov; Anichebe

Booked:- Neville (foul on Bale)

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon (sub Keane, 80), Jenas, Modric, Bale (sub Kranjcar, 58); Van der Vaart; Crouch

Subs not used:- Pletikosa; Corluka, Bassong; Palacios; Pavlyuchenko

No Bookings

A game too far for Spurs

Contrary to all expectations, Spurs’ 11 game unbeaten run (9 in the league) came to an end at Goodison Park, where they lost for only the third time in the Premier League and for the first time in 7 years. Contrary to expectations, Everton played an attacking 4-4-2 and more than made up for the absence of top goal-scorer Tim Cahill in the Asia Cup with an enterprising and determined performance that quite honestly deserved all three points. One bright point for Spurs was that also contrary to expectations, Chelsea lost at Molineux, and remain in fifth place.

Harry Redknapp was able to field both William Gallas and Alan Hutton who had been doubtful for this game. He also left Wilson Palacios out in favour of Jermaine Jenas, and gave Peter Crouch a start in place of Pavlyuchenko. David Moyes played both Beckford and Saha up front, backed up by Pienaar, Fellaini, Arteta and Coleman. Once again Philip Neville did a job on Gareth Bale, in more than one way, because Bale might never have fully recovered from Neville’s foul after 56 minutes, and for the first time since 28th December 2009 Bale failed to play the full 90 minutes of a Premier League game. Bale will be able to sit out Sunday’s Cup game and hopefully return for the Man Utd game on 16th January.

Everton is one of the poorest away venues for we fans, as we have a very low corner position, which does not give the best view of the game. It’s not a fun place to go to, as the home fans are ultra partisan, wanting a foul and/or a booking for every successful tackle on their players, and claiming imaginary fouls and handballs in the penalty area. Cancel that! I suppose that usually does make it a fun place to go to, as Spurs have such a good record at Goodison Park.

This time though, Spurs got off to the worst possible start as Saha was allowed far too much room when receiving a midfield ball about 25 yards out. He hit a good low drive that beat Gomes’ dive to the right in only the third minute. It took a few minutes for Spurs to compose themselves, and Van der Vaart did have Howard worried three minutes later with a shot that passed across the goalmouth. Then Hutton, Lennon and Van der Vaart combined to give Crouch a headed chance, which the striker put wide, when he should have hit the target. How often have I written that this season and last? Crouch redeemed himself in the 11th minute when he headed over Hutton’s cross from the right, and Van der Vaart was there to take advantage and head home. It was game on!

However, Spurs were then too often on the back foot, surrendering valuable midfield space, and also too often passing or throwing the ball in the wrong direction when given attacking chances. Modric lost the ball to Fellaini, whose left foot drive was held by Gomes. Beckford fired over after an Everton corner, when he should have hit the shot lower. Everton were too often weaving their way into shooting positions with good movement and successful short passes. Spurs were failing to clear their lines effectively and the ball came back too quickly. Arteta was next to test Gomes, but the Spurs keeper was down well to save.

At last Spurs managed some sustained possession and decent passing, but Modric wasted the shooting opportunity, with a shot that was miles too high. Crouch headed on a long ball for Van der Vaart, whose shot passed just over the bar. Then Crouch did have the ball in the net from a rare successful Bale cross, but he was offside. As half-time drew near, Hutton was fouled in an attacking position, and Van der Vaart’s shot was only just over the bar.

In the knowledge that Chelsea were losing, and in the face of plenty of Everton attacking play, we were thinking that a point would be a good result. However, the pressure upon the Spurs goal increased, and one sensed we would not hold on, and so it proved. Coleman was sent on a run and got goalside of Ekotto, but Gomes came to the rescue with a good save. Unfortunately, where Gomes was letting the side down was with poor distribution, whenever he tried to get the ball beyond his defenders. He even managed to put one attempted thrown pass out of play, which had been aimed at Ekotto.

Neville got the only booking of the game for his chopping down of Bale after good play by Van der Vaart and Lennon. Bale was soon to be replaced by Kranjcar, who did not move anywhere near as swiftly as Gareth! Crouch did again touch the ball to Van der Vaart, but Howard parried his shot. The pressure returned to the Tottenham area though, and there was some desperate defending from a couple of corners. Saha fired over after a poor defensive ball by Gallas. Spurs managed another great move forward involving Crouch, Van der Vaart, Jenas, Lennon and Modric before Van der Vaart’s shot was saved. Howard made another save, this time from Crouch, after some more interplay with Van der Vaart.

Spurs fell behind after some commitment towards attack, and were caught out by an Everton break. Saha’s shot was parried by Gomes, and Coleman was on hand to head home from short range.

Robbie Keane replaced Aaron Lennon, but Spurs had now lost all composure, and Everton were quite relentless in attack. It was all that Spurs could do to keep the score down to a one goal deficit, and with cleverly timed use of all three substitutes, Everton saw out time and gained what for them was a very precious three points that lifted them away from the mire at the bottom of the table. They’ve even gone ahead of Liverpool on goal difference and face their local rivals in the next league game on the same day that Spurs play Manchester United. Spurs will need to be more composed to get anything from that game.

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