BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 9TH FEBRUARY, 2014
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) EVERTON 0 (0)
Attendance:- 35, 944
Assistants:- S. Beck & D. Bryan
Fourth official:- P. Dowd
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Paulinho (sub Capoue, 68), Bentaleb; Lennon (sub Defoe, 86), Dembele, Eriksen (sub Townsend, 59); Adebayor
Subs not used:- Friedel; Kaboul, Naughton; Soldado
Booked:- Dembele (foul on Barry)
Everton (4-2-3-1):- Howard; Coleman, Jagielka (Capt.), Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Osman (sub McGeady, 73), Pienaar (sub Barkley, 64); Naismith (sub Deulofeu, 73)
Subs not used:- Robles; Hibbert, Stones, Traore
Flash! You're done!
A flash of quick thinking by Kyle Walker, and a flash of brilliance by Emmanuel Adebayor gave Spurs the three points, enabling Spurs to overtake Everton and sit in fifth place at the end of round 25 of this season's Premier League competition.
In truth, Spurs had been second best in the first half, during which goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made another vital save, this time from Leon Osman. Other than that, neither goalkeeper was particularly busy, but Everton had looked sharper in the first period.
Once again, Tim Sherwood opted out of playing a recognised defensive midfielder, but he did match Everton's 4-2-3-1 formation, playing Paulinho in tandem with Nabil Bentaleb,with Dembele getting the more attacking role today. Lennon played on the right of the attacking midfield three, with Eriksen on the left and Adebayor up front.
Everton were missing top scorer Lukaku, but right back Seamus Coleman started, and another loan player - Deulofeu - was on the bench, and eventually replaced Steven Naismith.
The early kick off meant that the sun was in Hugo Lloris's eyes for the first half, in the Paxton End, but the sun was mainly hidden behind the clouds driven by strong winds, on a showery day.
In the first half, Spurs were guilty of not closing down the opposition,allowing them too much space. Right back Coleman loves to get forward, and took part in a neat exchange move with Osman after only two minutes. Osman hit a decent shot, which passed outside Lloris's right post.
After 6 minutes, Lloris made a great left handed save from another Osman effort, after he had been fed the ball by Naismith. All Spurs had to show for their efforts in the early exchanges was some good effort by Dembele, winning a corner on the right bye-line. Nothing came of Eriksen's corner kick though.
Osman again had Lloris on the stretch, after Mirallas had got the better of Danny Rose, and Jan Vertonghen had fallen over, as he tried to challenge. The save was comfortable for the Spurs keeper.
Eriksen had a shot blocked after some good build up play by Spurs, and after a foul on Paulinho, Eriksen took the free kick, which landed on the net.
Too often, I find Spurs guilty of failing to take advantage of free kicks and attacking throws. Today was no exception, as Dawson & Co.
passed sideways and backwards from a free kick in their own half. They put themselves under pressure, and were a little fortunate when an attempted clearance bounded off Mirallas into the arms of the advancing Lloris.
Apart from a couple of errors, which did not cost his side anything, I felt that Bentaleb again gave a good account of himself. He was often the sharpest of our midfielders, and that includes Brazilian star Paulinho. It was after a Bentaleb pick-up that Dembele and Eriksen fed Walker, whose cross/shot passed wide of the far post. 20 minutes had passed, and this was Spurs' first significant effort on goal.
Coleman was allowed inside too easily by the Spurs left side defence, but his shot was easy for Lloris. Danny Rose got deep down the line at the other end, and sent in a low cross,which passed in front of Adebayor, and harmlessly across goal.
Paulinho demonstrated supreme class, with a tasty flicked pass to Lennon, but Everton defended the situation well.
Dawson sent a nice low pass down the centre to Paulinho, who sent Walker away. Kyle won a corner, from which Dawson could not get enough on the header.
After 35 minutes, Mirallas broke clear of the defence on the left channel, but thankfully hit his shot wide.
Spurs came out of the blocks in the second half with increased tempo and commitment, generally making a better fist of closing down their opponents. Why they needed to be told this at half time I do not know.
The increased effort resulted in a couple of corners, but no reward.
Everton were still looking sharp in our box, and Spurs had a couple of tight squeezes with clearances deep inside the area. Danger man Mirallas had another effort over the bar.
Spurs won a corner on their left side, taken by Eriksen, and headed just wide of the back post by Adebayor. The game was opening out now, but sometimes Spurs made it hard for themselves with passes to the player with most defenders around him.
Eriksen was replaced by Townsend, who started on the left, and had a little time on the right, switching with Lennon. I have to say that I do not think Townsend made any impression on the game.
Spurs took the lead after Dembele had been fouled only 5 or 10 yards inside the Everton half. Kyle Walker took a very quick free kick, allowed by referee Mark Clattenburg, and this was received by Adebayor, with his back to goal. Adebayor controlled the ball skilfully, and turned goal side of his defender, swiftly beating Howard with a fine well-placed left footed shot.
Now Tim Sherwood decided it was time to stiffen his defence, with Capoue replacing Paulinho. Roberto Martinez played all his cards, with
17 minutes of the game still remaining. Barkley had replaced Pienaar, and now Naismith and Osman made way for Deulofeu and McGeady. Deulofeu played on the right, with Mirallas taking over the front runner's role.
Everton had already lost their edge though, and with Spurs closing down more effectively, the home side looked the more likely scorers now.
Dembele made a ground-swallowing run through the middle and passed to Adebayor, whose right footed effort passed over. At the other end Lloris had to stretch backwards to save a McGeady shot that took a deflection off Walker.
Jermain Defoe came on for a cameo appearance in what will be his last home game as a Spurs player. It was nearly a dream appearance too, when Adebayor gave Jermain a great chance to score from the right of the area. Howard was equal to the shot though.
As added time had approached, the Everton fans were baying for a penalty, when Capoue collided with Coleman, but Mr. Clattenburg was having none of that.
The win puts Spurs two points above Everton, and no less than 6 points above Manchester United, who could only manage a draw at home to bottom-placed Fulham. However, we are three points and 33 goals behind fourth placed Liverpool.
At least we should be able to face an injury, transfer and suspension hit Newcastle with confidence on Wednesday night.
Jermain Defoe was given a rapturous welcome when he came on for Lennon, and he also got a rousing and emotional farewell from those home fans who remained to see him chaired by his team-mates.
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