As we vainly looked for a decent ending to the preview we fell back on the tried and trusted ‘should be a cracker’, a statement that managed to be simultaneously trite and completely misguided.
This game, between two sides who could have moved into second place with all three points, was essentially a load of old cobblers but the polite interpretation of events would probably be that they ‘cancelled each other out’.
Everton were grateful to be level at half-time on the strength of Tottenham’s possession during the opening 45 minutes. The visitors absolutely bossed midfield, where Sandro and Paulinho never gave their Everton counterparts a kick, while Jan Vertonghen was the most impressive centre-half playing at left-back seen at Goodison since the days when Joleon Lescott was keeping Leighton Baines on the bench.
The problem for Spurs though is that Roberto Soldado looks unsuited to the role he’s been given and his teammates, realising there’s no value in crossing the ball into the box for him, passed the ball around with seemingly no idea what they were going to do with it once in the final third.
For their part Everton were once again pressurised fairly easily at the back, and while the forwards could argue they got little service they never exactly covered themselves in glory in terms of offering themselves as targets for the beleaguered defenders and deep-lying midfielders.
However, it’s probably just fair to observe that any side is going to struggle against this Tottenham team filled with so many very good but not really great players. To use the acid test, how many would get in our team? You could probably make a case for the majority of them. That said, you can also see why the fans are a bit frustrated as Andre Villas-Boas does seem to have gone down the route favoured by so many continental managers who come to the Premier League and become almost obsessed with the physical side of the game. The likes of Jose Mourinho and comfy kecks Rafael Benitez before him certainly had a lot of success with teams built around very muscular midfields – as if they saw Dunga’s Brazil as the perfect blueprint – but they also received their fair amount of criticism too for producing teams that could often appear more functional than people expected given the amount spent on recruiting players. They just look a bit ‘stodgy’ for want of a better term.
On the other hand, the tight-trousered Portuguese could also argue that it’s early days for his post-Bale team and, as already mentioned, they could have moved into second place here had they actually bothered to trouble Tim Howard.
There was a bit more incident in the second half as Everton finally got back into the game. In fact the Blues had one of the few decent chances in the game when substitute Gerard Deulofeu tricked his way through the Spurs’ defence only for Hugo Lloris to smother his shot from close range.
To give Roberto Martinez his due, he introduced both Deulofeu and Ross Barkley in an attempt to try and take maximum points when plenty of other managers might have been tempted to simply preserve the stalemate against such strong opposition.
The game had two real talking points and the first was Lloris getting knocked clean out in an accidental collision with Lukaku’s knee but then continuing to play once he was up on his feet. The Frenchman is obviously made of sterner stuff than you would think given that he looks like the camp café owner off widely unwatched Jack Dee sitcom Lead Balloon.
Everton also had a big penalty shout denied when Seamus Coleman kept going and tried to shoot after a trip by Vertonghen. Apparently both players were also involved in what looked like a penalty claim for Tottenham in the first half but in all honesty without watching Match of the Day 2 – and why would you? – it’s hard to actually recall.
So we’ve decided that it must have been fuck all.
All in all then it was a dull game between two sides who demonstrated that they still lack certain qualities needed to compete for the top prizes. On this evidence Spurs do look closer than Everton – the ease in which they dominated in the first half was alarming at times – but the usual suspects are probably not too worried just yet.
So, finishing yet another of these pieces, especially after such a drab encounter, continues to be troublesome. Perhaps we should take inspiration from one of our all-time favourite television sh