This game is unlikely to prove one of the title-defining games of the season and Everton 1 Tottenham 1 is not a scoreline which will necessarily set the pulses racing. But this was one of the games of the season, where the score could have easily been 4-3 either way. It’s not for nothing Goodison Park has seen 43 goals in 10 games this season. In fact, in terms of goals scored, Everton, despite lying in 11th, have scored fewer goals (36) than only Manchester City (39) and Leicester (37), while Tottenham are only a little behind (34). And both of their attacking mindsets – except for Everton in the first half to an extent (see below) – were very much in evidence here, especially in a frantic, end-to-end three minutes of injury time, which resulted in a few exhausted bodies on the floor at the final whistle (understandably). Pardon the cliché, but this is what the Premier League is all about.
For a manager who typically plays expansive, free-flowing football, Roberto Martinez seemed to have set up Everton up to play in a surprisingly restrained manner for a home game. It was Tottenham who made nearly all of the running in the first half, enjoyed 64% of the possession and more of the territory and, in addition to their fine goal, were mere inches away on two more occasions – a fine long-range driven effort from Harry Kane which hit the post and flew across the goalmouth out for a goal kick and a 25-yard thunderbolt from Ben Davies which crashed off the underside of the bar. However, Everton grew into the game in the second half, especially after the introduction, on the hour mark, of Gerard Deulofeu, who was a constant thorn in the side of Tottenham on the right flank. One delivery fizzed right across the six-yard box would have been finished by Romeo Lukaku on most occasions, but the Belgian seemed uncharacteristically a split-second too slow this time to head it in, maybe a touch wary of smashing into the back post. The form of Mo Besic, who has missed much of the season through injury, will also please Toffees fans, as the 23-year-old was also a big factor in Everton’s second-half improvement after coming off the bench with Deulofeu.
Since taking the job in May 2014, Mauricio Pochettino has earned many plaudits for instilling in Spurs a steel and work ethic often notably absent in recent years, while also retaining their trademark style – and, with the title race open and with no stand-out ‘champions’ team apparent, some are now quietly suggesting Spurs could be genuine title contenders. Not least the Argentine’s opposite number today, Roberto Martinez, who this week said: “If anything, being such a young team, I expect them to grow even stronger. I see them as strong contenders for a really successful finish.” They have good strength in depth, young players Dele Alli and Tom Carroll growing in confidence and a team becoming more cohesive with every game. Also, they could be even higher in the league if not for an under-par start to the season from Harry Kane, who, with 12 goals in his 13 games for Spurs, is back firing again. Though if he gets badly injured, they are quite light on attacking cover.
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