|DATE||Saturday 10th March 2012|
Having struggled in our last three matches to get anything like our recent form going, a match against the original "dogs of war" at Goodison Park is not the most welcoming game to try and produce our best football.
It will be a dogged battle with a packed midfield and lots of closing down by the home side, but in the return fixture at the Lane, they were a pale shadow of their usual battling selves and Spurs ran out comfortable winners, albeit only 2-0.
In defence captain Phil Jagielka will be looking to break the partnership of Johnny Heitinga and Sylvain Distin that has kept Everton on a run of six unbeaten matches. Heitinga man marked Rafael van der Vaart last season, but suffered this season, as Spurs attacked from different positions across the pitch, with Distin looking slow against the likes of Bale and Lennon. But with Leighton Baines on the left and Tony Hibbert on the right, the full backs have an attacking instinct, but can stick to their defensive duties if required. Hibbert might find himself in for a chasing if Bale sticks to the left and with Lennon missing on the other flank, he might need to, otherwise, BAE could end up exposed on that flank.
Tim Howard has not had a lucky season, with the own goal by Phil Neville at Wigan spinning viciously past him like an off break. However, his keeping has been erratic this season, with some goals he has let in ones which he would have kept out in the past. A good shot-stopper, it is his decision making which is now his Achilles heel.
The midfield is where Moyes always likes to get the most out of his players. Usually plumping for bug, strong players there, he has the choice of Royston Drenthe, Marouane Fellaini, Tim Cahill, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and Phil Neville. Fellaini and Neville are the hard men and they will try to upset the Tottenham midfield by getting their foot in on them. Barkley has been used sparingly this season after breaking through last campaign, Tim Cahill has lacked his usual number of games and subsequently, his usual number of goals and the only shining light for Toffees fans has been Royston Drenthe. On loan from Real Madrid, when he plays, Everton seem to have more impetus going forward and he is always willing to try a shot from long range. Another option who Moyes is now often relying on is Leon Osman, who also happens to be the club's top scorer with three goals this season, along with Anichebe, Drenthe, Leighton baines and Apostolos Vellios.
And thereby hangs a tale. The midfield have been chipping in with the goals, but they have not been coming from the front men. Anichebe is often injured and Landon Donovan has returned Stateside, leaving the inexperienced Jose Baxter and Vellios as other striking options. More likely to feature could be January signing Nikica Jelavic from Rangers, who has only made a couple of sub appearances or Dennis Stracqulursi, the Argentinian who has scored one goal in 13 appearances of late, but James McFadden is an experienced Premier League striker who Moyes could also turn to.
For Spurs, Harry has to decide which inform strikers he wants to start with. Defoe's two in midweek came against Stevenage, while Saha has got three in two games against Newcastle and Arsenal, before drawing a blank against Manchester United, when Defoe came on to score too. A nice situation for the manager to pick two from three and to have Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale fit too to add to the attacking options. No doubt Benny will come back in and Sandro might feature with the ball likely to be stuck in midfield for the majority of the time. Being without our loaned midfielder Steven Pienaar might hit them hard, as he has sparked the little revival since he returned to Goodison.
Last time out, Everton drew 1-1 with QPR at Loftus Road and there have been wins over Chelsea and Man City, but draws with Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers too.
It won't be a pretty game and Spurs will do well to find the time and space to play anything like they were a few weeks back, so I will go for a scoring draw, but it will have to be a low one, as the Toffees don't net too many goals these days and Spurs are finding it hard to break down teams who set out to defend. Having rolled over quite easily at White hart Lane, I think Everton might fancy having a bit of a go at home.
|PREDICTION||Everton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
Darron Gibson (knee) is out of the Spurs match and Victor Anichebe (groin) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) are both doubts for the Everton manager.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs will be without the two players injured on Wednesday in the FA Cup replay v Stevenage - Michael Dawson, who is out for the majority, if not all, the rest of the season and Aaron Lennon, who it is hoped might be back within a matter of a couple of weeks.
Long term injured Tom Huddlestone (ankle) is still out, but William Gallas might have a place on the bench with Spurs hit by injuries in defence. Adam Smith might find a place there too, along with Danny Rose, should Harry need cover at the back.
Louis Saha might be fit, although there appears to be some discrepancy between Redknapp's and Moyes' interpretation about whether he will play or not.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Everton 1 (1)
Saturday 10th March 2012
Venue : Goodison Park
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)
Kick off 17:30
Heitinga (foul) 80
Howard (time-wasting) 90+5
Assou-Ekotto (foul) 60
Defoe (foul) 61
|Crowd : 34,992||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : Mark Halsey (Lancashire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. D. Bond, Mr. R. Ganfield|
|Fourth Official : Mike Jones||
Match Delegate : J.
Professional Game Match Observer : D. Horlick
|Everton kicked off and played towards the Park end in the first half.|
|Everton :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
18 Neville (c)
|Manager : David Moyes||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : Chang||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Le Coq Sportif||Kit Supplier : Puma|
A third straight league defeat for Spurs under Harry Redknapp for the first time ahs raised some concern about what exactly has gone wrong in recent weeks as Spurs mis-fire and look off the pace in games, as they did for much of this 0-1 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park.
Tottenham looked half-paced and lacking shape as they struggled against an Everton side, who were lacking in attacking intent and if this is an example of how David Moyes' teams play their football, then I suggest that Daniel Levy look elsewhere for a manager to replace Harry Redknapp when he goes. Great big players hurtling into challenges and time wasting from the early part of the first half is not what I want to see at White Hart Lane. It is all very well people saying that he has done well on almost no budget, but leopards don't change their spots. Look at Sam Allardyce at West Ham. Fans there are apoplectic with rage at the football played despite them being second in the table.
There is no doubt that he makes the best of what he ahs got and at the moment, Harry is not doing the same, with the players letting him down when they cross the white line. But the manager has to take some of the blame. Why pay Bale on the right in a position that has never worked for Tottenham ? It might work for Wales, but not for us. it restricts his effectiveness unless he cuts in and hits a left foot shot, but when pushed wide, he has to check back or try and cross with the outside of this left foot, which he can do, but not as accurately. It makes it a little easier for defenders to keep him out of the game.
The game was a poor one to watch, with too many misplaced passes or ones to players who were under pressure as soon as they got the ball. The movement did not allow an out ball often enough, with Adebayor having a day to forget after his recent good form. Jermain Defoe looked lively, but too often he takes a shot when it might not be the best option and that is frustrating for team-mates and fans. But mostly, the team did not look up for the battle you know you are going to get at Everton and probably went the same way as Man City and Chelsea before them.
The firs quarter of an hour was weird. At times, the game might as well have been behind closed doors, with both sets of fans having a bit of a sing, but with periods when there was no noise at all. For all the noises that are made about the Everton fans being knowledgeable, they showed themselves to be anything but, with their constant claiming of any decision that they thought should have been theirs and the booing for players who had done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, Mark Halsey, usually one of the better referees got caught up in this and nothing went our way in his eyes, with only Kyle Walker's petulant kick at Stracqualursi, after the Argentine striker had taken him after the ball had gone, going unpunished, but if some action had been taken by the ref it might not have happened anyway.
There were a couple of shouts for penalties and on another day they might have been given, but not today. One in the first half saw Defoe go down taking a shot that went well wide as the cynical Heitinga "challenged", but the Dutch defender knows what he is doing most of the time and made contact in putting Jermain off his shot. In the second half, when Spurs had decided to up the pace, a little ball into the box by substitute Jake Livermore bounced off Leighton Baines' thigh and onto his arm, which, John Terry-like, he held tight to his side, but moving it towards the ball in the process. You have seen them awarded.
But Spurs only really stepped up the tempo in the last five minutes, after dominating a second half that saw them fail to score despite having lots of openings. The reason for that was being unlucky on a couple of occasions, but more often, it was not creating enough space to open up the two banks of four (well, one of which ended up a five) in front of the Everton goal.
Maybe the quiet amongst the crowd arose from not much on the pitch giving them reason to cheer. Bale took a loose pass and drove forward, but his cross was blocked for a corner, which, as always, we did not threaten from and Everton's sole early threat was a Coleman shot, after a neat exchange of passes on the edge of the box, but it went a couple of feet wide with Brad Friedel having it covered. Coleman's next effort saw Scott Parker throw himself in front of the ball and take the sting out of the effort, leaving it to balloon up into Friedel's hands. Defoe's penalty claim came next, with Halsey not interested and then a 20th minute Everton free-kick from the right was won in the air by Jelavic and it fell to Fellaini at the far post and he shot low, but Brad spread himself well and his leg was in the way to send the ball away from goal.
A couple of minutes later, Spurs allowed Everton to go ahead with some sloppy defending (again). A move down the left saw a ball passed to Leon Osman five yards outside the area and towards the left corner of the box. With one, not particularly deceptive, move, he had moved past Younes Kaboul, who guessed wrong and allowed the midfielder to sail past him. Then the Everton man pulled the ball back behind him into the box from his wide position and it came to Nikica Jelavic in acres of space in our box and although he was stretching, he had a lot of goal to aim at. While Brad got a hand to the ball, he could not keep it out and it went in to give the home side the lead.
Tottenham's response was a 30 yard shot from Bale that went past Howard's left hand post that was comfortable for the keeper and then the Welshman hit a free-kick from the same range two feet wide, but again, Howard looked like he had it covered. Sandro won the ball and put Luka Modric through, but the Croatian's shot was weak and straight at the keeper. When Everton were awarded a free-kick five yards outside the box, at least Jelavic got his shot on target, forcing Friedel to beat it away at his left hand post. Our free-kicks and corners must be the poorest in the Premier League, as we rarely make anything of them, with the same people taking them the whole time. If that is going to be the case, they need to get out on the training ground and practice until they get them right, as the lack of conversion rate is costing us.
One that did nearly work was curled in from the left wing by Bale to the far post and Heitinga got underneath it, allowing it to travel to Sandro beyond the far post and his shot that might have gone across the face of goal was blocked for a corner. So, at half time it seemed unlikely that Spurs would be able to get back into the game unless changes were lade, as it just wasn't working.
And when the players came out after the interval, there were no new faces on show. So, I held out little hope for the final outcome, but the side did start pushing forward more ... or was it that Everton were dropping deeper ? There is always an element of protecting what they have and that is another reason why I don't think Moyes would be a good choice for Spurs as a manager.
From the kick off Tottenham did look brighter and a through ball by Parker to Defoe gave the striker a shot on goal that Howard got right behind. Five minutes later, the same combination saw Defoe out on the right and he cut in to smash a wild shot too high, frustrating those who had made space in the box on the other side of the area. Then, once more, the Parker-Defoe move put our forward in on goal, but Howard again thwarted the England striker.
Adebayor only played nine minutes of the second half, with Harry bringing on Louis Saha up front against his old side and he got a good hand as he entered the fray. A Spurs corner found Sandro at the far post, but he wasn't up high enough to direct it on goal and then, when Bale spread play to Assou-Ekotto, the full back's cross dropped for Modric, who skied his shot.
The game was getting scrappy and while Spurs were starting to scrap with Everton, it brought a couple of bookings, with Benoit fouling Drenthe as he ran through and Defoe brought down Heitinga off the ball as their feud that has lasted a couple of seasons, continued. A free kick on the edge of the D at the Everton end resulted in Kaboul hitting the ball hard, as he always does, but with no accuracy, as he always does. Defoe again tested Howard with the aid of a deflection, but the keeper kept it out and Spurs were dominant, camped in the Everton half.
It took until the 70th minute until Everton worried Friedel and then it was a move that was against the run of play. Coleman broke away and released Osman in the box on the right hand side, but his shot was at Friedel, who had closed him down and the ball bounced out and was cleared.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Spurs had the ball in the net, but Defoe had been standing offside before he beat Howard. Assou-Ekotto's cross was chested up in the air by Bale and it went forward to Defoe, who shot home on the volley, but it was clear there was only Howard between him and goal.
Then, as the game entered added time, Spurs suddenly started to push forward with pace and push Everton even further back. A shot from just outside the box from van der Vaart hit a defender on the way and with Howard stranded having already committed himself, he was glad to see the ball drift over the bar. From the corner on our right wing, mayhem ensued as Friedel joined the outfield player sin the area. With all eyes on our keeper, the ball was pulled back to Benoit on the edge of the area, but he shanked his shot and the ball went through to Saha on the edge of the six yard box. He had to react quickly, but got a shot away and the ball came back off the inside of the post, hit Howard's knee and went away from goal.
The last meaningful act of the game saw Halsey book Howard for time-wasting a minute from the end of the match. What is the point of that ?? It is unlikely to speed the game up with so little time left. Why don't refs book players early for time wasting, thus giving the booking some meaning rather than it being a token gesture to hark back to the remainder of the game ??
With the final whistle, the home crowd erupted. Another cup final we have had to face then !!
But the result was a fair one, as we were so slow in the first half and I can't believe it was the Stevenage game that has taken so much out of them. The performance was not sustained enough and the selection of Bale on the right played into Everton's hands. Spurs could not get dangerous balls into the box often enough for our forwards to threaten in the early stages of the match.
It is no good dominating games if we do not score and our defending allows sides to score, which is something that didn't happen earlier in the season. Losing Lennon has unbalanced the side, as has been said before, but Spurs should be able to cope with that and have enough chances to win games, but at the moment, for whatever reason, are notable to make them into goals.
With our run in, we need to be scoring goals and quickly. Maybe this will be a test for Harry that the FA might be watching as closely as all Spurs fans.
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|What you thought|
|Peter Tranter||Watching the game on
TV, I formed the opinion that I did not want David Moyes to be the
new Spurs manager.
Apart from the tactics he employed and the way his team go about the game, the shots provided by ESPN showed members of the crowd being provided with blankets and young fans with cards to keep them entertained while the play was in progress. No wonder there is no budget for new players at Goodion !!
|Other scores during this week :|
|Bolton Wanderers||2||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||0||Blackburn Rovers||2||Saturday|
|Norwich City||1||Wigan Athletic||1||Sunday|
|Manchester United||2||West Bromwich Albion||0||Sunday|
|Swansea City||0||Manchester City||1||Sunday|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||28||10||5||14||34||36||35||-3|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||28||5||7||16||29||48||22||-19|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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