BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 10TH MARCH, 2012
EVERTON 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Assistants:- Mr. D. Bond & Mr. R. Ganfield
Fourth official:- Mr. M. Jones
Teams:- Everton (4-1-4-1):- Howard; Neville (Capt.), Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Fellaini; Drenthe (sub Rodwell, 65), Cahill, Osman, Coleman (sub Jagielka, 82); Jelavic (sub Stracqualursi, 78)
Subs not used:- Mucha; Hibbert; Gueye; Anichebe
Booked:- Heitinga (foul on Defoe), Howard (Time wasting)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Capt.), Assou-Ekotto; Bale, Parker (sub Livermore, 86), Sandro (sub Van der Vaart, 68), Modric; Adebayor (sub Saha, 54), Defoe
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Nelsen, Rose; Kranjcar
Booked:- Assou-Ekotto (foul on Drenthe), Defoe (foul on Heitinga)
Twitching time for Redknapp’s Spurs
Spurs lost their third consecutive league game for the first time since Harry Redknapp was appointed in October, 2008, and face the risk of being only one point clear of Arsenal in third place after their bitter rivals face Newcastle on Monday night. Already there have been countless criticisms of Harry Redknapp’s tactics on the airwaves, and on the Internet message boards, but perhaps the most poignant of all critics came in the massed voice of the Spurs fans at Goodison Park who sang “He plays on the left, Gareth Bale he plays on the left”, along with “Central midfield, Luka Modric, he plays central midfield”. Redknapp’s initial selection, formation and strategy was getting a hearty on the spot critique.
Harry did play Scott Parker and Sandro in front of his back four, but played Bale on the right side of midfield and Modric on the left. Thus Spurs’ creative juices were squeezed out of the middle, and as often as not, it was Scott Parker who was attacking through the middle trying to offer creativity. Everton played with only one dedicated striker, although Jelavic would be supported by Drenthe and Cahill when the home team did move forward, but the midfield was packed with blue shirts against Spurs hapless attempts to break them down. Once they scored, Moyes’ strategy was for 10 of his team to form a wall about 22 yards out from goal, whenever Spurs got into their half. Yes, it was Spurs job to break down that resistance, but despite much pressure in the second half, and a Saha effort that rebounded off the post, the Everton wall was not breached. We did eventually get our way when Bale toddled over to the left flank as the last 10 minutes approached.
Bale did leave Osman trailing after two minutes when he advanced down the right channel and won a corner, but nothing came of that. Drenthe started on the right side but appeared on the left flank and hit a dangerous cross which Spurs managed to clear. There was then a lull in the excitement stakes for a quarter of an hour, and no meaningful shot on goal. Bale did send Defoe away with a powerful throw from the right similar to that which led to Defoe’s second goal on Wednesday night against Stevenage. Defoe got goalside of the defence, but they cleared and Defoe was left on the floor, with referee Mark Halsey not interested in any claim for a penalty.
An Everton shot was blocked and the ball ran out for Defoe who headed to Adebayor. Adebayor should have done better with the ball, but allowed two defenders to clear from his feet. There always seemed to be more blue shirts than white when Spurs moved forward, which is a credit to the mobility, stamina and determination of the “Toffees” and a criticism of the Spurs team who did not have the guile to find a way through.
Fellaini got through on the left side of the Spurs box, and hit a shot at an angle which Friedel saved with his feet. Then, in the 22nd minute, Kaboul’s clearance did not leave the Spurs half and the ball came back down the left side to Osman, who cut the ball in to Jelavic, who fired home a low shot to the left of Friedel. The keeper got more than a touch and nearly kept the ball out, but failed. He was hardly bothered again throughout the game, alth0ugh Drenthe half-hit a shot from 30 yards which was easy meat for the Spurs keeper.
Parker fed Bale who fired wide of the post, before Everton wanted a free kick in a central position. Mr. Halsey waved play-on and Luka Modric carried the ball out before hitting a shot which was comfortable for Howard. Friedel had to parry away a free kick by Jelavic. Bale and Modric switched flanks for a while, and that caused Drenthe and Coleman also to change wings. Defoe went on a good run, passing to Adebayor, who fed the ball on to Bale. Again the shot was easy for the goalkeeper. Defoe was fouled on the left side and Bale hit a free kick deep to the back post, where Sandro’s effort was blocked.
Harry Redknapp said after the game that we “battered” Everton in the second half and it is certainly true that we put them under great pressure. I don’t remember any great saves from Howard though. He did save from Defoe in the first minute after the break, after parker put Defoe through. Parker then chipped a pass to Defoe on the right side of the area. Defoe turned and squeezed a left footed shot beyond the far post. Parker was provider yet again for Defoe, who forced a save. Adebayor, who had been fairly hapless, was replaced by Louis Saha, who got a good reception from both sets of fans. Moyes had wanted a gentleman’s agreement not to play Saha, but he’s a Spurs player and Harry had every right to put him on. Ultimately, he came closest to scoring for Spurs.
A Bale cross from the right led to a corner, taken by Modric and headed wide by Sandro. An Assou-Ekotto cross rebounded off Fellaini and fell for Modric, who shot over the bar. Sandro was fouled 22 yards out, but the free kick was wasted royally by Kaboul. Defoe received the ball from Assou-Ekotto, and had a shot after a pass from Modric, but this was easy for Howard to collect. Van der Vaart replaced Sandro, and we thought he would take over on the right, with Bale moving, but that didn’t happen. It was soon after this that the frustrated Spurs fans tried to tell Harry where Bale and Modric should be playing.
Spurs did have the ball in the net after 75 minutes, but Defoe was offside. It followed a move from the left when Assou-Ekotto crossed, and Bale touched the ball onto Jermain. Bale did move to the left with little over ten minutes of the game to go. He over-hit a free kick after Defoe had been fouled by Heitinga, who got booked. There was five minutes of added time. Modric won the ball back and fed Defoe, but his shot was deflected for a corner. From the corner, Assou-Ekotto had a shot which turned into a pass for Saha, whose shot rebounded off the inside of the post. There was time for one more effort by Defoe that was off target. By now the whistles of the home fans were deafening, as was the roar of victory that greeted the final whistle.
Everton have a Merseyside Derby game on Tuesday night at Anfield, and both sides have home FA Cup quarter-final ties next week. Spurs then face Stoke at home before a difficult trip to Stamford Bridge in two weeks’ time. Who knows where we will be in the Premier League by the end of the month? Twitching time is here.
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