|DATE||Wednesday 11th January 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
The Toffees will arrive at White Hart Lane stricken by injuries, but
do not let that fool you into thinking this will be an easy match.
Having lost Phil Jagielka (knee ligament) for six weeks, Ross Barkley (knee), Leon Osman (knee), Tim Cahill (groin), Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring), the only bright notes have been the return on loan of Landon Donovan and the return to fitness of Victor Anichebe. This gives them a couple more options up front while their main notable goal-scorer of recent weeks has been Tim Howard, who got on the score-sheet with a 92 yard clearance against Bolton, but still ended up on the losing side. The team's recent form has been patchy, winning 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion, then losing to Bolton at home before seeing off Tamworth in the FA Cup 2-0.
In defence, the Merseysiders have Sylvain Distin, Johnny Heitinga, Leighton Baines and Shane Duffy, while there are youngsters who might have to come in off the bench if they suffer any injuries to those players. Distin is experience, but slow and Defoe usually has a good game against him, while Heitinga will concentrate on marking Rafael van der Vaart man-for-man, as he did effectively last season at the Lane. However, this should allow for him to be pulled out of position and give space for other Spurs men to get forward. Baines likes to attack, but I expect him to stifle the attacking side of his game, as he tried to keep Aaron Lennon in check, but he is very good at delivering and scoring from dead ball situations.
The midfield has been hit by absences too, but with a choice of Fellaini, Drenthe, Bilyaletdinov and Phil Neville available, it looks an experienced midfield, with Neville giving the defensive cover, while Drenthe is quick and has an eye for goal. Fellaini is the ball winner and also likes to go forward, while Bilyaletdinov has found it hard to fit into English football, but can still produce a fierce shot on goal when the mood takes him.
As well as the loanee Donovan and the fit again Anichebe, who will add some strength to the forward line, the Blues have Louis Saha and Dennis Stracqualursi. Saha is experienced like many Everton players, but has lost pace, although not an idea of where the goal is and he can still finish given the opportunity, but I don't know much about Stracqualursi except he hasn't made the impact he was supposed to when he arrived as a loan signing from Argentina.
On the face of it, this looks a straightforward task for Tottenham, with Everton being hit by injuries to key players, but Spurs are without some of their most reliable men too and this could even things out a bit. Moyes will have his side organised to destroy what Tottenham attempt to build and try to nick something on the break or from a free-kick or corner. Expect a war of attrition, but one Spurs might just come out on top of.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Everton 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Ledley King is likely to miss out after picking up a strain in training, while Tom Huddlestone (ankle) is still out and is joined on the missing list by Sandro and William Gallas, who are both suffering calf muscle injuries. Scott Parker's knee knock might not clear up in time leaving Spurs light in the middle of midfield.
EVERTON TEAM NEWS :
With a long injury list including Phil Jagielka (knee ligament) for six weeks, Ross Barkley (knee), Leon Osman (knee), Tim Cahill (groin), Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring), the only light on the horizon has been the return to first team action of Victor Anichebe, who has been injured for about three years since limping off in a game at the Lane. Landon Donovan has re-joined on loan from LA Galaxy and Tony Hibbert might be fit after a groin injury.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
2 (1) Everton 0 (0)
Wednesday 11th January 2012 Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
Lennon (foul) 74
Donovan (foul) 45+2
Cahill (foul) 83
Fellaini (dissent) 85
|Crowd : 36,132||Weather : Dry, mild|
|Referee : Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. P. Kirkup; Mr. M. Mullarkey|
|Fourth Official : Mr. K. A. Woolmer||
Match delegate : - G. Pike
Professional Game Match Observer : - Kelvin Morton
|Everton kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Everton :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
10 Adebayor ( 9 Pavlyuchenko 87)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : David Moyes|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Chang|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Le Coq Sportif|
With similarly depleted teams, Spurs and Everton took to the field some five months late to play out the opening day's postponed fixture and Spurs showed that just entering the second half of their league season, they are in rude health, no thanks to Everton's physical approach, but overcoming it with a controlled 2-0 victory.
And controlled is the word. Contrast and compare (as the exam questions used to go) the performances of Marouane Fellaini and Jake Livermore. One an established Premier League player and a Belgian international, while the other id just establishing himself in the top flight. One ran around like a headless chicken, while one gave a performance of sensible passing, good running into space and some solid tackling. Livermore perhaps showed the Belgian what a player he could be if only he channelled his energy, rather than waste it in fruitless efforts. And there were other comparisons throughout the match which perhaps went on to reinforce what Moyes had said pre-match about Spurs and Everton being in similar situations a few years back, but Tottenham have since gone upwards an onwards instead of getting stuck in Premier League purgatory as the Toffees have done.
It all almost started so badly for Tottenham, as a move up the Everton left saw a low Donovan cross into the box was flicked at by Kaboul, who was off balance and the ball fell to Louis Saha, who turned and hit a first time shot across the goal and about a yard wide of Friedel's left hand post before he could set himself. Inside the first two minutes, this was a scare for Tottenham, but it ended up being the closest the visitors came to scoring really.
From that moment on, Tottenham held possession well for long periods and opened Everton up with some neat one-touch football. There were challenges to be hurdled and shots to watch go over the crossbar, but on the whole, Spurs were usually on the attack. Rafael van der Vaart picked up a loose ball from Donovan and put Adebayor away, but taking the ball to his left, he smashed a shot from an acute angle over the bar, when he might have awaited support for a better opening to make itself available. Some early closing down by Ade and Jake put pressure on the Everton defence to pass the ball back to the one man on the opposition who might be feared when it came to goal-scoring, but Howard lacked distance on his clearances tonight and he didn't have the wind behind him, so Friedel could rest relatively easy in his own penalty area.
van der Vaart almost got on the end of a cute ball by Benny into the box with his right foot, as he came in off the side-line, but the ball had a bit too much pace on it for the Dutchman to reach it. Assou-Ekotto's passing was spot on tonight, making his opposite number, the much vaunted Leighton Baines, look shoddy in comparison.
Picking the ball off Distin inside his own half, Bale fed Emmanuel Adebayor, who took the ball into the box, but could not quite finish after he had delicately lifted the ball over the diving Howard (like he did against Liverpool earlier this season) and the ball went wide for a goal kick. Some of the crowd started to get on Manu's back and while his goals to shots ratio is not brilliant, he is doing a lot more for the team apart from scoring and his contribution is more than I remember it being when he was on the other side playing against us. He missed another chance before Saha fired wide at the other end, but with 34 minutes gone, Bale ran across the face of the penalty area and played the ball to Rafa, who hit his shot from the right hand corner of the box with his left foot first time, leaving Howard standing and seeing the ball dip just a moment too late to deny him a curling shot that would have been a classy goal had it gone in.
But then, within a minute, Spurs were ahead, when Assou-Ekotto, taking the ball from Freidel, swept a pass from left back to the right hand corner of the Everton box, where Aaron Lennon was coming in. Baines looked favourite and tried to control the ball, but it popped up and Aaron nipped ahead of the defender. Baines was all over him outside the box, but Lennon got away and once inside the area, the defender was worried about fouling him, so the Tottenham man took the ball on a couple of strides and then shot left footed, not with a great deal of power, but with enough on it to defeat Howard, by sending him the wrong way. 35 minutes gone and 1-0 to the Spurs.
The game was a little disjointed for the remainder of the first half, but with the lead, you thought Everton might have to come out and attack a bit more, but with the injury prone Anichebe and Saha's best days behind him, there was little threat up top to give Kaboul and Dawson sufficient concern. As usual Bale's pace could not be dealt with and one break soon after the restart saw the defenders back off him, allowing him to shoot from 25 yards and the ball came off a defender, making Howard produce a reflex save to beat the ball out and then having a defender hack it away before Adebayor could get there.
Spurs then moved the ball from right to left, with Rafa finding Assou-Ekotto and his ball into the heart of the six yard box bounced awkwardly for Baines, who missed it and Lennon coming in headed it but could not get a clear run, causing his header to go wide of the goal. Five minutes into the half, Everton started to build some possession in the final third and while their balls into the box lacked quality, there were half chances for Saha and Fellaini, but neither found the target. The visitors plight got worse when Distin had to be replaced by Shane Duffy (who I thought was the tattooed one in Westlife) and his first involvement was in his own box, when the ball popped up to hit him on the arm. There was no risk that a penalty would be given, as referee Atkinson gave Spurs the square root of nothing all night.
Duffy's next contribution was to be part of the Everton defence that watched Benoit pick the ball up 45 yards out, look around for who to pass to, saw there was nobody, so went forward 10 yards and larruped the ball past Howard's left hand (with the aid of Cahill's arse) and into the net with a powerful drive. The crowd erupted as the popular defender got only his second goal with a penchant for scoring against Scousers ! It was a cracking shot and one that perhaps he might try more in future.
At 2-0 the game was virtually finished, but if Everton could pull one back, there might be a nervy ending to the game, but this was a big but (not as big as Cahill's thank goodness). Spurs kept going forward. Bale struck a rising shot well over, Baines got in front of Adebayor to deny him and Luka Modric drove a shot straight at Howard.
Meanwhile, Everton brought on Royston Drenthe and Magagye Gueye up front for Bilyealtdinov and Ancihebe, with the Dutch winger giving Spurs a couple of scares as he went down in the box. Firstly quite easily under challenge from Assou-Ekotto and more genuinely when Kaboul fell over him from behind when the little Everton man was approaching the dead ball line. But Atkinson was obviously in charitable mood by now, as added Cahill and Fellaini to his list of booking, joining Donovan's first half caution and a soft one for Lennon, who slipped Drenthe's heels in midfield. Saha did lift a shot over the bar by some distance at the end, but Tottenham finished with Kyle Walker hitting a trademark shot at goal, which was deflected wide to keep the ball at the right end with time running out.
This was a comfortable win for Tottenham and the team played some very nice football in doing so, but the performance of the night came from Jake Livermore. Assured and calm, he looked an experienced Premier League midfielder. Special mention for Benny, who created the first as well as scoring the second, while Younes Kaboul had a towering game in the heart of defence.
With performances like this, there is no reason to think that Spurs can't continue to push on at the top of the table. So with a game against Wolves on Saturday that could make things even more interesting at the top followed by a trip to Eastlands, for what some observers are calling a title decider ... the next three weeks are important ones in our season.
But then they all might be from hereon in.
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|What you thought|
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|17||Queens Park Rangers||20||4||5||11||19||35||17||-16|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
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