Everton could not have done much about Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal, it was a moment of individual brilliance, but aside from that, their defence showed yet another example of why they hold the third best defensive record in the league. Gareth Barry was quick to press Nabil Bentaleb, Aaron Lennon was kept quiet by Phil Jagielka, and Seamus Coleman nullified the attacking threat of Danny Rose. Their midfield hassled their opposite numbers into making mistakes and very rarely gave them the time to look for the killer ball. Tottenham tried to play their way through the middle of the park but with Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas tracking back they found very little room to maneuver. If they attacked the flanks they met Leighton Baines and Coleman who were both rocks in the wingback positions. The Toffees’ defensive record is part of a team effort and is based on more than just a strong back four.
Leon Osman had nothing short of a storming game. He was creative, he was quick-footed, he offered an attacking outlet and he got back well. When Everton needed a spark he was there to ignite the fire. All four of Everton’s attempts in the opening 20 minutes came from the English international. With performances like this he must be on Roy Hodgson’s radar for the World Cup. Yes, he’s 32, but the Three Lions boss must players that are in form, that’s how you get the most out of your team. He might only go in a back-up capacity, especially with the emergence of his team-mate Ross Barkley and Southampton’s Adam Lallana, but someone with his experience is worth a spot in at least the initial squad.
Coming in to the match Spurs had only picked up 11 points from their last 10 home league fixtures and they had only earned two points at home against top seven teams all season. True to form, Spurs started the match on the back foot, with Osman running riot in the final third. If it wasn’t for a fantastic save from Lloris they would have been one down within ten minutes, giving the home faithful the usual feeling of dread, especially with Everton controlling the possession. They came more in to the game at the start of the second half but it is almost as if they get stage fright in front of their own supporters. Spurs looked more settled after they scored but crucially it was from their one of their two shots on target. A clinical side indeed, but Spurs need to create more at home.
With both sides very much in contention for a top-four finish, this was clearly the main theme in the match. Both teams showed exactly why they’re so far up the league in a very open and end-to-end encounter at the Lane. What Spurs lacked up front in the first half they certainly made up for in defence with a mixture of a high pressing game and tough challenges keeping the Toffees at bay. Everton meanwhile were showing real attacking flair and it wasn’t until midway through the first half that the pendulum started to swing quickly and unpredictably in favour of either side. The second half started with gusto and Spurs were quick on the attack but if either of these sides are to make fourth place they are going to have to find a cutting edge, especially with Liverpool’s SAS combination making them a force to deal with this season. Spurs may have won the battle but they have not won the war.
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