With an early goal conceded and a sloppy defensive performance, Spurs
ended up bottom of the table after two games after succumbing to Everton
at White Hart Lane.
All the claims
about the "Fantastic Four" and finishing in the fantastic four top
places seem a bit hollow now. But it is still only two games into
the season, so not all is lost although six points have been.
With Dawson still ruled out, Younes Kaboul
and Anthony Gardner started in the middle of defence, with Marcus Bent
coming in up front, with Robbie Keane dropping back into midfield on the
right for the injured Tainio. The team had hardly had a chance to
get a kick when s rash foul on Arteta lead to the Spaniard swinging in a
free kick from the right wing and Gardner got under the ball, with his
man Lescott rising unchallenged to head past Robinson to open the
scoring with just over two minutes on the clock. It was just the
start to the game that Tottenham did not need after their abysmal start
to the season.
While Spurs had set up in quite an
attacking formation, the service to Berbatov and Bent was not of the
quality expected and neither threatened enough in the first half.
The lack of width also led to a few opportunities to get wide, which
were not able to be realised and the full backs in blue had a reasonably
easy time of it. One good break from his own half by Kaboul saw
him enter the final third and after playing a pass to Malbranque, the
French midfielder's ball to Berbatov was easily picked off, leaving the
young defender out of position. Some sloppy work when we were in
possession meant that we gifted Everton a fair amount of possession and
their ability to break quickly was a constant threat.
When the ball was finally passed ahead of
Bent to run onto, his pace took him beyond Stubbs and his low drilled
effort was kept out by a diving Howard and as the ball was left by the
dithering Everton defenders Yobo and Hibbert, Berbatov closed in, but a
defender blocked his shot.
I am not sure if there is history between
Steed and Arteta, but the Spurs man went right through him from behind
in the 12th minute to earn a clear yellow card. It seemed as
though Halsey had got his anti-Spurs head on, as Anichebe, who is a
difficult opponent, kept backing into Tottenham defenders and also
committed a string of offences, leading to two talking tos by the ref,
but no card. Strange that.
The Toffees were in the ascendancy and
Johnson chased down a long ball before pulling it back to Anichebe to
hit a low shot that Robinson got down to save, but it was shortly
followed by Kaboul limping off with a pulled hamstring, thus
precipitating another change in personnel. Rocha came on to play
alongside Gardner in central defence.
It seemed that this inspired Tottenham to
push forward and keep the ball at the right end of the pitch. A
throw-in near the corner flag saw Keane pop the ball over Carsely's head
in the area and just reach it before Yobo to touch it back for Dimitar.
Unfortunately, it was a bit behind him and his shot went too high.
As Spurs were enjoying their best period of pressure in the game so far,
Malbranque won a corner, which Jenas played into the heart of the box
and in a reverse of the first goal of the game, Lescott left Garner for
a free header which he headed down and into the roof of the net,
although for a while it looked as if it might go over the bar.
The goal gave Spurs some impetus and a
coupe of crosses almost found white shirts, but the closest they came
was from a cleared Everton corner, which went up to Steed, who held it
up well and his cross was just a bit too fierce in front of Darren Bent.
As it all seemed to be going well, the ball was moved out to the right
of the Everton midfield, where Arteta crossed to the far post and Rocha
did really well to appear from nowhere to nod away as Anichebe looked
favourite to head in. The ball came back out into the penalty area
about 12 yards out to Leon Osman, who stood unmarked and he had time to
take a touch and fire past Robbo, who was still getting out of the back
of the net.
At this point, you could almost see the
Spurs heads drop. Free kicks were being given away and given to
Everton by Halsey, something we cannot afford to do, as there are
difficulties for the side defending them. This time, Arteta curled
his shot over the bar, but into the one minute stoppage time, a dodgy
award for a challenge between Malbranque and Anichebe resulted in a dead
ball situation 30 yards out, as the Everton striker lay holding his leg.
It was generous to say the least in my opinion and when Stubbs strode up
to strike the ball, an Everton player on the end of the wall pulled
Zokora away and he stuck a leg out that deflected the ball past
Robinson, who probably had the drive covered.
Another injury time goal and another one
which turned out to be the winner.
The reaction from the Spurs side in the
second half would be the key to the rest of the game. At the start
of the second period, it looked as thought hey might stage a comeback,
with Keane cutting inside Carsley to hit a low left foot shot that
Howard had to fall on. Then two minutes into the half, Chimbonda
produced a cross that saw Berbatov get away from Lescott and thud a
header past Howard, but against the post and as the ball came back, bent
was bustled off the ball as he went for a low header.
It was becoming end to end stuff now, as
the visitors moved up to the other end and the ball bounced off a Spurs
defender to Arteta and only a flick off Gardner took the ball wide of
the goal. In the vital areas, the ball dropped kindly for the
Blues and they almost scored another in the second half when it happened.
A rare free-kick close to the Everton
penalty area gave Keane the opportunity to curl a shot on goal, which
went just over the bar and on 65 minutes, another deep cross from
Chimbonda found Defoe beyond the far post. His first time effort
from an acute angle was heading in until Howard did well to beat the
ball out with a very good save.
With 24 minutes left, Jol had introduced
Wayne Routledge to the action and although he did not have much chance
to use his pace, he managed to produce some good crosses from the right
wing, where he combined well with Chimbonda. One from the full
back saw Defoe sneak in front of his marker and turn the ball towards
goal, but it did not have sufficient pace on it to beat Howard, who took
Jermaine Jenas seems to be the player in
the team at the moment who can do no right in the eyes of the boo boys
among the Tottenham crowd. The free-kick he swung to the far post
that went narrowly over the bar with Howard back-pedalling brought jeers
and surprisingly, a similar one to Chimbonda at the far post saw the
ball headed back, but only to the keeper's hands. Jenas does
himself no favours sometimes, losing the ball inside his own half, but
he did get back to tidy things up, so he doesn't give up.
In fact, the nearest Tottenham came to a
goal towards the end was when Robinson's kick up field caught Stubbs
running backwards and he headed the ball up in the air, but it almost
went over the stranded Everton keeper. With Tottenham's luck, it
obviously went wide.
It was left to Paul Robinson to maintain
some semblance of decency with the score-line, as he stopped Johnson on
three breaks. Once after it fell to the England forward and Robbo
jumped up to keep the ball out, secondly when the England Number One
dived low to keep out a shot and finally, his legs came to the rescue
with a block to keep it at 1-3 at the end.
While it is disappointing not to have
registered a point so far, I cannot see why there is such doom and gloom
among Spurs fans. Yes, there are problems with the balance of the
team and there are players yet to come back from injury. Yes,
there are problems with creativity from midfield and getting the right
kind of supply to the front men. Yes, there are issues with the
way teams appear to be able to get through our defences, but after last
season's lack of clean sheets and this season's injury hit back four,
perhaps that it is not surprising.
The way I try and determine progress is
who we have fared in comparison to last season's corresponding results.
So, last season we lost to two of the three promoted sides away - so
losing to Sunderland can be counted as one of them - and we lost to
Everton at home last season. So on those two results - no
change. I know that results will not follow from one seasont o
another, but we need to start turning losses into draws and draws into
wins to add to our points total.
We are looking to improve, but with the
arrival of Derby on Saturday perhaps mimicking the visit of Sheffield
United early last season, we could be in the same position points-wise,
but it will need an improvement on this performance to do so.