Saturday 1st January 2005
surprise start to the season has carried on and they sit in fourth
position at the turn of the year, with the Wayne Rooney transfer cash
to spend in the January transfer window. So, have the narrow
victories based on hard work become something that teams have worked
out how to play against ??
With Charlton's 2-0 win aided and abetted by Duncan Ferguson's sending off just four days ago, the way Everton bounce back will be an indicator to their ability to recover from a loss. A recent draw with Blackburn and the one goal win over Bolton have shown that they are able to gain points even when they do not been play as well as they have been. For the side to function, the play revolves around the effort put in by the midfield, but it is not only that energy, but they have good movement when they have the ball and pass well when in possession.
With Nigel Martyn having done his calf in the Charlton match, former Arsenal keeper Richard Wright will finally get his chance between the sticks again. He suffered a lack of confidence in his previous opportunities, but he will be wanting to prove that he is worthy of keeping the gloves.
The defence has been a solid unit with Alan Stubbs leading the back four from the middle of the defence. His height is key to keeping the aerial threat at bay and with David Weir being regarded as his deputy now, he has provided a consistent presence for the Toffees. Having had a run in the side has given Tony Hibbert confidence on the right, with Yobo featuring on the opposite flank of late, this has left Steve Watson seeking a way back into the side after suffering a stomach upset and his place in the team sometimes involves his selection in midfield. Gary Naysmith has not featured since early in the season, while Italian Alessandro Pistone has been partnering Stubbs and has looked much more the part than he used to in his previous spell in the Premier League with Newcastle.
The main driving force in the Everton midfield is Thomas Gravesen, the Dane who powers through the centre of the field with his runs and he tackles like a tank too. He is not to be mistaken for Lee Carsley, who is a dead ringer for Thomas and plays like him, but without the flair that the other 2baldy twin" displays. Young midfielder Leon Osman has made a hit in midfield with his ability to get into the box, a similar skill to that which Tim Cahill also has. They both are good in the air for their height and are dynamic movers without the ball, so they will have to be tracked back by the Tottenham players. Finally, Kevin Kilbane adds width to the team and he is a player who can beat defenders with a drop of the shoulder and provide the crossed for his team-mates to attack. There are options among them to attack opponents, depending on how David Moyes sees it.
With the front men scoring the vital goals to propel Everton up the table, they have to be able to take the odd chance that comes along. Marcus Bent has been a good buy for Moyes, making the most of the goal openings which is just as well, because James McFadden has not been a regular pick, but has come on from the bench regularly. With Duncan Ferguson either injured or suspended, this has limited Moyes' choice to those above or Kevin Campbell. The ex-Gooner is not the one that he has turned to often, so the selection of Kilbane or Cahill being played alongside Bent has been the way the Scottish manager has played the match.
Everton are hard to beat. They work very hard, whether at home or away and therefore, you can only get something from them if you are willing to do the same. Spurs seem to have more determination now than they did a few months back and the presence of Defoe in the Tottenham team means that they can grab a goal out of nothing. With the disappointment of the lost points in the Palace draw fresh in their memories, the side will be looking to get back in the groove, but I see this as being a tight game all round, so predict ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 1 Everton 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
MEHSTG was unable to obtain a View From The Other Side
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (knee); Simon Davies (virus); Goran Bunjevcevic (calf); Dean Richards (ear infection); Stephen Kelly (knee)
EVERTON : Nigel Martyn (calf); Duncan Ferguson (suspended); - (-)
|Tottenham Hotspur 5 Everton 2 (Half-time score : 2-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 1st January 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,102||Referee : Steve Dunn (Bristol)|
|Weather : Mild; rain throughout the match|
|Teams : -|
Pistone (Naysmith 71)
Bent (Campbell 71)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
A late consolation goal for Everton should not be allowed to shroud this five-star performance by Spurs, who took the previously stingy Toffees side apart with a display of flowing football that left the visitors chasing shadows.
With Martin Jol starting without Jermain Defoe ("knee injury") and Michael Brown (rested), it seemed like the midfield that we fielded would be an unfamiliar one to try and match Everton's engine room. However, Dean Marney proved a revelation and Pedro Mendes, restored to his central midfield position, played an integral part in the way the team operated. The passing from the Portuguese player and Michael Carrick was matched by the control and movement of the front two.
Neither side threatened early on, but Robinson was called upon to watch Kilbane's high drive go over following an Edman clearance that didn't get far enough away, but with Tottenham's first effort on target, they went ahead. A ball cleared out by the Everton defence was picked up by King, who fed Mendes on the halfway line. Pedro looked up and picked out Robbie Keane's run and the striker flicked his header towards Marney on the "D" of the area. Running around the ball to get it on his right foot, the youngster guided his shot past Wright, who rushed out and nearly took Marney's head off, and into the net for his first Spurs goal. His rush to the crowd showed how pleased he was to have netted the opener in a match that was to unfold over the next 75 minutes.
Everton were playing a one-dimensional game, with their long passes over-hit to Bent up front. The best opening they created came from some good passing on the deck, releasing Hibbert on the right wing. His firm, low cross took a flick off King and then Naybet got a foot to it and almost deflected it into his own goal. It missed the far post by inches. However, on 26 minutes Spurs took advantage of their pressure to score a second. A throw-in was won by Ledley King's persistence chasing a long corner and when Edman threw it to Kanoute's head, his flick looked in vain. However, Reto Ziegler took the ball on his chest and volleyed it as it dropped past the defender in front of him and past the diving Wright. It was a technically well taken goal and one that gave the young Swiss midfielder a great deal of satisfaction too, being his first in a lilywhite shirt.
Tottenham were spraying the ball around with great confidence and with 30 minutes gone came within a whisker of being 3-0 ahead. Mendes put a ball through for Keano to chase and with Weir dithering, he stuck out a leg to divert the ball up and over Wright, who back-pedalled furiously only to see the ball drop onto the bar and bounce away. However, David Moyes' team have resilience and a 37th minute Carsley header at the far post from Bent's right wing cross was not picked up by a Spurs marker and should have been a warning. Three minutes later Bent headed a long ball straight up in the air and then reacted first to head it into the space that was filled by Cahill running on to volley the ball past Robinson. It was a sloppy goal to concede and one that gave Everton a foothold in the match they had hardly deserved. It led to a spell of pressure after the break that could have seen the result be affected for the worse.
Kilbane headed over from a similar position to Carsley earlier and McFadden fired in a shot that went wide, but Tottenham also attacked and Yobo's octopus impersonation on Keane was waved away by the ref as Spurs fans appealed for a penalty. In fact, Dunn was very lenient on Weir and Yobo, who were keen to test the stretchbackability of the Kappa kit. When Edman raced through on the left wing in the 53rd minute and took Ziegler's back-heel to fire a low shot in, which Wright touched wide of the goal, but without knowing much about it. The movement and passing paid off though, just five minutes later.
Keane and Kanoute set up Marney down the right and his low cross found Fredi in the 58th minute. Although off balance, he controlled the ball and knocked it back to the "D", where Mendes wanted it. It was lined up for his left foot, but the midfielder switched the ball to his right, outrageously sending Weir the wrong way in the process, then sending the ball smashing against the back of the net, with Wright wrong-footed. His joy at recording his first goal for Tottenham was unable to be seen, as he was buried under a pile of happy team-mates.
Sixty seven minutes and Fredi Kanoute played in Marney on the right wing and with options looking limited, he took the ball up to Pistone and did just that on him. Nut-megging him on the edge of the box, he played a low cross into the six yard box that mesmerised the Everton defenders into standing still and Wright into diving out of the way of the ball, providing Robbie with a tap-in.
To say Tottenham were rampant would not have been an understatement, with the tricks being pulled out. Ziegler sold Hibbert with a great dummy and he raced away to hit a low shot that Wright kept out with his legs, Kanoute was denied by the the keeper as he tried to lift the ball over him following a one-two with Keane and King had two quick chances - one a blocked shot that went just wide of the angle of bar and post; the other a header from the resulting corner that flashed a foot over the top.
A fine addition to the Dean Marney memory bank came in the 81st minute, when, following a short pass from Michael Carrick, the midfielder turned on the halfway line and moved forward with the ball. As Everton players backed off, he took aim 30 yards out and struck a super shot that ripped into the net. It was a great show of confidence and a great way to wrap up Marney's home debut. But it looked even better when seen on the Jumbotron screen, as he looked up, saw Yobo in front of him and bent it around him and into the top corner out of Wright's reach.
Everton's triple substitution did not make a lot of difference. Campbell flopped in the box and tried to con the ref into giving a penalty. Naysmith's main contribution was to hit a volley across the box from the left - falling to Hibbert out on the right and his first time shot was well stopped by Robinson at his near post. Osman had one chance, when Robbo left a long cross and it hit him on the back, leaving Osman an opportunity, which he could only put out for a goal kick.
There were still opportunities for Tottenham. A long ball into the right channel found Keane in space and with Wright coming out to meet him, Robbie lobbed the ball high over the goalie and saw the ball heading into an empty net. Unfortunately, the ball bounced in front of the goal, instead of in the net and then bounced over the bar from a yard out !! From nearly being 6-1 up, the introduction of two subs for Tottenham had a distracting effect and Spurs found the score-line reduced to 5-2 within a minute. Cahill found McFadden on the left hand corner of the penalty area, looking suspiciously offside, but took the shot early and fires it low across Robinson into the net.
Still this did not prevent Tottenham going for more goals. One final effort came when Kanoute engineered a yard to hit a low shot that the keeper held on the ground.
With the Christmas period usually being on that brings little cheer for Spurs fans, but this year it complemented the New Year result nicely. I know that this is the first win we have had over one of the top teams, but it was a compelling display that showed that Spurs can play flowing, attacking football.
Long may it continue !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DEAN MARNEY
|THE FIRST OF THE FIRST|
|Playing Everton is always a
great start to a New Year and this match was no exception. In
fact, it was a great performance on top of the result, as it produced
the first goals for the club for a number of players.
First up was Dean Marney, who was plucked from the reserves to hit the headlines with a double goal and all round dynamic midfield performance. His first goal for the club opened the scoring and was perhaps made easier by Wright's Schumacher like rush from goal, but unlike Battiston, the Spurs lad managed to find the net and avoid the forearm smash coming his way. The second near the end was a classy piece of finishing. Again assisted by the reticent Everton defence, who let him advance twenty yards before he looked up and picked a spot right in the top right hand corner of the goal, leaving Wright no chance of reaching the shot. Not content with that he had a hand in two other goals, making Keane's with a nut-meg on the experienced Pistone, before playing a ball along the six yard area for Keane to put into an unguarded net.
The new 'Deano' played the ball in and it was half-cleared, then laid back by Kanoute to Mendes, who switched feet, sent Weir a postcard and then drilled the ball past a floundering Wright. He was pleased to get off the mark and raced around like a mad thing until swamped by white shirts. It was good to see him get the reward for his hard work this season, much like Michael Brown did at Norwich, as he has been a consistent presence in the midfield.
The other virgin goal-scorer was Reto Ziegler, who took his goal with aplomb. Taking Fredi's flick on down with his chest, he carefully hit his volley into the inside side-netting leaving everyone taken aback by such a composed finish from one so young. His introduction into the side has been one of the major successes of the season. He plays like he has been there for years, but with the confidence of youth that allows him to sell the most outrageous dummies that more experienced opponents buy wholesale. His vision and awareness is also a great quality, as demonstrated by his back-heel that put Edman in for a shot on goal.
The fact that four of the five goals came from midfield is a bit of a revelation from the days of having Santini in charge. The release of the full backs to push forward and the nous of the midfielders to cover for them has refreshed the tactics of the team and made them harder to read by opposition sides. Rather than the pressure building up on the defence, the side can break out and other teams have to be able to counter that ability. If they don't and have runner sin midfield, who push too far forward, they get punished like Everton did. Goals from midfield are what the team having been missing for a year or two. Losing Poyet's ability to burst into the box from deep is something we have not replaced and although that is not happening yet, the support play is much better, meaning we have numbers on our side in attack.
While Ziegler has been a regular pick from just before Jacques' departure, Michael Carrick has been a Jol selection. His deep-lying play has allowed him the view of the play in front of him to pick out the best pass ... and more often than not he does !! But it is not just his ball-play that is impressive, he gets through a lot of work there too. It is not always noticed, but he is in the right position to get a foot in or to nip the ball off a midfielder's toe. Mendes is adept at this too. His work-rate is excellent and much goes un-noticed, as it is off the ball.
With Keane and Kanoute running the Everton defence ragged, there could have been further goals, with Robbie having chances enough for a hat-trick should the bar and a dodgy bounce have been a bit more favourable. Fredi was a fine example of how to lead the line and he has come on in leaps and bounds since his misdemeanour against Liverpool. Jol has certainly done the trick with the Mali striker.
With the defence being solid, the goals we now concede are shocking in that we are affronted that we let a goal in at all. Robinson has been a bit dodgy coming for crosses, if I am being very critical, while Naybet was stretching his leg a lot for someone who has a groin problem. King was superb and Pamarot did what he had to without much fuss, which is just what we want him to do.
With everything considered, if the team can produce play like this ... even if not this for the whole 90 minutes, we will win more games than we lose. That's the Tottenham Way. If Jol wants to be half as good as Bill Nick then he is there already after this 5-2 win being 50% of the famous 10-4 victory that the Spurs great had in his first game in charge.
The Funky Phantom
I just had to
write after that game yesterday. The fact that I've now watched
it six times on the video speaks for itself. OK, I'm not exactly
a regular down the Lane now, but that performance must rank as one of
the best all round, most complete performances I've ever witnessed.
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Aston Villa||1||Blackburn Rovers||0||Saturday|
|Bolton Wanderers||1||West Bromwich Albion||1||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||2||Birmingham City||1||Saturday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||21||1||9||11||17||43||12||-26|
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