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Sunday 28th February 2010

With Everton losing to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal in the Europa League on Thursday and Spurs beating Bolton Wanderers, you might think that this will be a foregone conclusion for Tottenham.  However, with all things Spurs, nothing is ever that straightforward, with a virus sweeping through the club and leaving a few players under the weather.

With injuries on both sides too, there will not be the two first choice elevens out there battling it out, but with Tottenham picking up after a mediocre introduction to the year and the Toffees on a good run, it should be a fairly evenly matched meeting.

American keeper Tim Howard has stopped two penalties from Tottenham this season, so I hope we are not awarded another spot-kick, as he seems to have the sign over us, but he is a good shot-stopper, although can be rash in coming for crosses and can be beaten when exposed one-on-one.  Behind him in reserve is Carlo Nash, who is experienced, but does not get much of a look-in at Goodison.

The defence has been strengthened with the signing of Sylvain Distin in January, but he is a player who often has problems when playing against Spurs, so hopefully, he will continue that trait on Sunday, while he may line up alongside Phil Jagielka, who is back after a cruciate injury.  At left back and pushing for an England call-up is Leighton Baines, who likes to get forward in support of the attack and is a bit of a dead ball specialist too, but can leave gaps behind him which are ripe for counter attacks.  At right back, Moyes could start with youngster Dan Gosling, who has impressed lately and made the difference to the team when he came on at Goodison, inspiring them to pull back from 0-2 down.  Youngsters Shane Duffy and Seamus Coleman are both capable of coming in and doing a job in defence, but are more likely to be used from the bench, if at all.  Johnny Heitinga is also available after sitting out the European game in midweek, so his experience might be preferred to that of Gosling, with Jagielka playing wide on the right and Joseph Yobo is another central defender, who could be picked, but is out of favour at the moment.  Other players who won't make the game are Phillipe Senderos, the former Gooner, who is on loan at Everton and Tony Hibbert, who has a hernia.

As far as midfield goes, this is another strong area for the Merseyside Blues, with Steven Pienaar in good form and the returning Mikael Arteta adding some more creativity, the supply lines are flowing well at the moment.  The dirty work is done by Phil Neville and Jack Rodwell, but the young England hopeful is another who might start on the bench.  Moyes might plump for the Russian Bilyletdinov, who plays wide, but can cut inside and has a fearsome shot on him.  The options continue with Leon Osman's ability to play anywhere in the midfield and can push up to play in behind the front two to link play and break into the box.

It is in attack that Everton have had a few problems, with injuries to a number of their forwards.  Louis Saha, Yakubu, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan and Jo (now returned to Manchester City following the termination of his loan) meaning that they have not been scoring regularly and 1-0 ground out wins have become a bit of a trademark of Moyes' reign.  It has stood them in good stead, but with Saha in good scoring form and Yakubu coming back into the reckoning, the introduction in January of American Landon Donovan has also sparked a bit of a scoring revival.  Donovan has been around for a while, but failed to stay on in Germany when he had a chance to make it there.  He seems to have settled pretty quickly at Goodison, with good movement around the area and just behind the front man, so expect a 4-4-1-1 formation, which can switch to a more traditional 4-4-2 if they need to chase the game.

Tottenham's ability to break quickly might provide Everton with enough problems to stem their own attacks, with Modric key to opening up the visitors' defence, with Pav and Defoe keen to stick away any chances that come their way.  It will be a tough game, with lots of midfield possession, but it might come down to the simple fact of who finishes the openings that come their way ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    2      Everton    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (out - thigh); Carlo Cudicini (out - hip and wrists); Jermaine Jenas (out - groin); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Aaron Lennon (out - groin); - (-); - (-); 

EVERTON :  -  Victor Anichebe (doubtful - back) and Phil Jagielka (doubtful - knee); Tim Cahill (out - calf), Marouane Fellaini (out - ankle), Tony Hibbert (out - groin), Phillipe Senderos (out - back); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Everton   1      (Half-time score : 2-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 28th February 2010
Kick Off :  1.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,912
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Everton kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Lots of rain before game, some during
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
19  Bassong
20  Dawson  (c)
  3  Bale

14  Modric       
21  Kranjcar (25  Rose  82)

18  Defoe  (17  Gudjohnsen  71)
  9  Pavlyuchenko     (15  Crouch  52)

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  Kyle Walker
32  Assou-Ekotto

Everton :

24  Howard

  3  Baines
  5  Heitinga
15  Distin
18  Neville (c)

20  Osman  (  6  Jagielka  46)
10  Arteta
21  Pienaar
Rodwell  (14  Vaughan  81)

28  Anicebe  (  9  Donovan  63)
22  Yakubu

Unused subs: 
  1  Nash
  4  Yobo
  7  Bilyeditnov
19  Gosling

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Pavlyuchenko  11
Modric 28


Yakubu 55

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Modric (kicking ball away)   90+4




Neville (foul)   5
Arteta (foul)    73
Pienaar (foul)    76 
Heitinga (foul)   86


Match Report : -  
When playing a rugby based style of play, one must remember that you have to get the ball between the sticks rather than over or wide of them.  A basic error that Everton made in failing to overcome a two goal deficit as Spurs took a half-time lead and managed to just about protect it until the end of the game at White Hart Lane today.

While Spurs had a backs-to-the-wall effort for a lot of the second half, it was Everton's physical and cynical approach which assisted their revival.  A goal ten minutes after the kick-off in the second half saw Yakubu scramble home a goal from close range when Spurs failed to deal with a deep corner and this lead to an onslaught from the Blues.

It was reminiscent of the away game between the two teams a few months back when Tottenham managed to turn over a 2-0 score-line and allow the Toffees to claw back a draw.  The way Spurs started was also familiar and has been a trademark of some of the better results we have had.  A good tempo kept Everton pegged back and with Bale bombing down the left, Kranjcar pushed on up the right wing and Huddlestone was dictating play from midfield, alongside the mercurial Modric.  A neat move saw Huddlestone put a 50 yard pass beyond the visitors' defence and Defoe was on to it like lightning.  He took the ball into the area on the right side and slammed a shot across Howard, but it was going across the six yard box until Roman Pavlyuchenko threw himself at the ball to knock it home with his leg from close range.  No off-side controversy this week, as he came from behind Heitinga to tuck the ball away.  It continued his vein of goals since returning to first team action and he poached what was undoubtedly a shot on goal by Defoe.

So 11 minutes in and the early goal to the good, Spurs continued to play the football that has won them a lot of points this season.  Pav had another shot on goal from the edge of the box after cutting inside from the left hand side of the pitch, but Howard got both fists to it to punch away awkwardly.  In between, a routine catch from a corner saw Heurelho Gomes drop the ball at the far post and luckily, Michael Dawson was there to get in the way of Yakubu's shot.  

Gareth Bale was a constant thorn in Everton's left side, with pacy and tricky runs down that wing.  Phil Neville had already put in an ugly tackle on him to earn a fifth minute booking and was lucky in the second half to escape with another when he made two quick fouls and knocked the ball away on a couple of occasions, when Modric got booked for doing the same first time.  The Welsh defender stood a cross up to the far post for Kranjcar to head downwards, but with little power in the 25th minute and then before half-time had a shot deflected away by Heitinga and then put a low ball into the near post for Defoe, who just failed to get a decent touch on it inside the six yard box.

However, in the 28th minute, Luka Modric finished off a move involving his two countrymen to make it 2-0.  He was involved in the build up as the three Croatians linked on the right hand corner of the box, but took the ball just inside the area to hit a shot that dipped over Howard to hit the underside of the bar to go in.  It was a fine finish as he wasn't that far out, with the little midfielder deserving the goal for his play since returning from a broken leg.

Rodwell had a free header from five yards out five minutes before the break, but out it wide and while Everton had their opportunities, they failed to take them.  After actor and Spurs fan Stephen Mangan had had a laugh at the visiting Merseysiders at the break, the teams came out with Everton bringing on Phil Jagielka in place of Leon Osman.   The system changed with two men pushed forward and one was the faintly unbelievable Anichebe, who appeared unable to run and his effectiveness only became clear when a corner in the 55th minute went o the far post and was knocked down and the big Everton youngster blocked off Gomes to allow Yakubu to push the ball home from close range.

Gomes might have been a bit stronger in that incident, but he had held a 20 yard shot from Heitinga just after the break and then, when Anichebe put in a low ball to the near post, turned away Rodwell's first time 56th minute shot with a sharp save.  Whether the virus that had hit the squad during the week was getting to Wilson Palacios, I don't know, but a loose pass across the midfield was picked off by Pienaar and he drove forward to shoot at goal from the edge of the box, forcing Gomes to throw himself to his left to push it wide.

Corluka had forced Howard to push a shot from 25 yards out over the bar, before Everton missed a golden opportunity to level things up.  Rodwell was played into the box on the left and he turned Bassong to hit a shot across Gomes, but the keeper managed to get hands to it.  However, he could only divert the ball across goal to the far post, where substitute Landon Donovan stood with the goal gaping in front of him.  With Bale diving back onto the line, the American only had to knock it home, but managed to miss the target altogether from about a yard out and the chance went begging.  There was one more effort from Everton when Jagielka rose unmarked to head a corner at goal, but he put it over when he should have hit the goal in the 84th minute.

Spurs were reduced to hitting on the break and Heitinga was booked for rugby tackling Kranjcar after Pienaar had done the same to Corluka and Arteta to Modric when the Spurs players looked to break into attack with the Everton players unable to keep pace with them.  It is a cynical and "professional" act, which in my book deserves more than a yellow card wherever it happens on the pitch.

But Tottenham hung on for the win, with Kranjcar going close at the end after being set up by a lung-busting run by Bale. While under pressure for long periods of the second half, Spurs defended well, but the loss of Huddlestone with a kick on the foot in the 53rd minute changed the way the game was going, as his replacement Younes Kaboul is not in the same league when it comes to passing and retaining possession.  It is weird that for one so pilloried by some sections of the Spurs support, it took a bad injury for them to sing his name and to realise how much he means to the way the team play.

Another three points and back into fourth, the season continues to roll on with a break for FA Cup football next week, but the action being on the second front will not deter Tottenham from trying to win both prizes within their reach.

the polyphant


Fan Reaction : -



Leighton Baines as the England left back in the World Cup ?

You have got to be joking after Vedran Corluka ran around him in the first half and he barely had a chance to settle.

Meanwhile, Jermain Defoe set up Roman Pavlyuchenko with a marvellously perceptive ball.  Well, it would have been if it wasn't a shot at goal and his absence when Gudjohnsen came on for him halfway through the second half was a bit worrying.  We can't afford to lose him with the form he is in nor can the same happen to Gareth Bale, who is back to his best.  Now, if he could only get his shooting boots on !!

Everton came on strong in the second half, but you would expect that from a David Moyes team. However, they made little impact on the Spurs defence and when they did  get past them Gomes was there to make a couple of reflex stops to keep them out.  If only the sloppy goal we let in from a corner could have been prevented, it would have been a fine return. 

Three more points and the run gets going again.  We need to keep it going until the end of the season if the team are serious about fourth place, but I think the three games against the top three and losing Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon being out for another six weeks might hamper that ambition.

steve bryan




Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Burnley 1 Portsmouth 2 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Manchester City 4 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Sunday
Sunderland 0 Fulham 0 Sunday
League Cup Final
Manchester United 2 Aston Villa 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 28 19 4 5 65 26 61 +39
2 Manchester United 27 19 3 6 66 24 60 +42
3 Arsenal 28 18 4 6 66 31 58 +35
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 28 14 7 7 50 27 49 +23
5 Manchester City 27 13 10 4 52 35 49 +17
6 Liverpool 28 14 6 8 45 28 48 +17
7 Aston Villa 26 12 9 5 37 21 44 +16
8 Birmingham City 27 10 7 9 26 24 40 +2
9 Fulham 28 10 8 10 32 29 38 +3
10 Everton 27 10 8 9 39 39 38 0
11 Stoke City 27 8 10 9 27 32 34 -5
12 Blackburn Rovers 28 9 7 12 30 45 34 -15
13 West Ham United 27 6 9 12 35 43 27 -6
14 Sunderland 26 6 9 11 29 41 27 -12
15 Bolton Wanderers 27 6 8 13 30 49 26 -19
16 Wigan Athletic 27 6 7 14 26 53 25 -27
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27 6 6 14 21 45 24 -24
18 Hull City 27 5 9 13 25 54 24 -29
19 Burnley 27 6 5 16 28 57 23 -29
20 Portsmouth 27 5 4 18 23 45 19 -22


Position before the match :  5th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th


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