Tony Hibbert ruled out with a neck injury, Lars Jacobsen only able to make the bench, so David Moyes has moved Phil Neville back into the defence, with Cahill possibly playing the defensive midfield role alongside Rodwell. Osman is also on the bench, with Dan Gosling getting another chance to improve his sharpness and match awareness on the field.
Upfront it's Jô, who seems to be improving slightly, and usually does better at home than away. If only he had a little bit more drive toward goal and fire in his shot...
Everton started in bright and determined fashion, moving the ball around well. An early corner won by Gosling was driven in hard and flat by Gosling, beating everyone. At the other end, Yobo had to block Keane and Modrich came in to win a corner that came all the way through n the lashing rain. Spurs seemed to adapt a litle better and applied more pressure but Everton looked good when they had possession.
However, Spurs were showing greater invention in attack, and that was worrying. Cahill had been in a little strong on Jenas as the Aussie struggled to take command of midfield. Lescott was booked when he caught Hutton late. Pienaar encroached and was also booked as Bale put his first attempt over the bar and was booked, as Bale did better on the retake, fizzing his free-kick just a fraction past the angle! Plenty of warnings for the Blues!!!
An excellent move from Spurs set up Keane and a vital interception by Lescott deflected his shot wide. Spurs were dominating the game as Everton struggled to put together a move that carried through enough to threaten an end-product.
Pienaar did well near the break, and got a lovely ball in behind the Spurs defence for Jo but yet again the Brazilian was too slow and his first touch was wrong, taking it wide ratherr than making the first-time shot over the advancing Gomes. Baines played Fellaini into space and a chance of a shot but his execution was poor... and it needed Rodwell to show the strikers how to hit the ball with power but it flew a foot over the bar.
Spurs won the first half on points, although Howard had not had a save to make but Everton showed some signs of getting their act together as the break approached. And after the break, Rodwell was spoken to for boisterous tackle on Hutton as Everton started with more drive and ambition. Baines whipped in a nice cross to the far post for Cahill but he was crowded out.
Hutton clipped Rodwell after the Everton midfielder tackled him well, and there was a bit of afters, Hutton getting the card. Everton were doing far better and Cahill looked to have scored but his opportunistic drive with the outside of his foot curled away past the post.
Some good work led to a great header across the goal by Cahill and in the follow-up Pienaar's shot was blocked away. Everton were now taking far more control, and another corner came out to Gosling who's ground shot bounced up to hit the post. Pienaar, though, was increasingly struggling with an ankle knock, but Moyes switched Gosling for Osman and Jo for Saha on 68 mins.
A superb move by Spurs ended in a superb turn and shot by Defoe that flew a fraction wide as this game threatened to break either way. Pienaar ran in and took a good strike that flew just wide. Osman played a great ball in to Saha but his first touch as all wrong. Osman then disposed Bale but hang on to the ball too long and was easily dispossessed himself.
Harry Redknapp went for broke in the last 10 minutes, throwing on Pavlyuchenko for Modric but Everton continued to dominate the game without really putting Gomes under any pressure. Jenas got booked for tangling with Cahill but from the free-kick Pienaar's delivery was horribly over-hit.
As time ticked by, a game that so richly deserved a goal looked sadly like ending goalless. Rodwell sensed this and struck from way out, high wide and horrible! But at least he had a try from distance, which is something Everton do not seem to do enough of. Pavlyuchenko got booked for his third niggly foul. While Cahill and Woodgate went down on an incoming ball and Cahill was penalized. Everton had to defend as the game ended goalless, a real disappointment.
Lots of endeavour in the end but that final ball in was the problem. A 16th clean sheet for Howard that is an Everton record in the Premier League era, eating Neville Southall's 15 — although the Binman had a couple more in that forgotten era before Sky existed. A great opportunity to pass over Aston Villa spurned as they crash 1-3 at Fulham.
While David Moyes has enjoyed a couple of spectacular victories at White Hart Lane in the last two seasons which obliterated a 20 year-old hoodoo on that ground, he's found Tottenham to be something of a bogey side at Goodison Park since the Blues' last home win over Spurs in the 2003/04 season.
Last season, with his selection options severely restricted by injury, suspension and the African Cup of Nations, Moyes had to settle for a goalless draw in this fixture and history repeated itself today as the Blues struggled to land the decisive blow and claim a victory that would have lifted them clear of Aston Villa into fifth place.
Already without long-term injury casualties like Yakubu, MIkel Arteta and Phil Jagielka, the manager had further fitness issues when Tony Hibbert was ruled out with a neck injury and both Lars Jacobsen and Leon Osman were only deemed fit enough to start on the bench.
Phil Neville slotted back into right back, Dan Gosling continued on the right side of midfield and Jack Rodwell partnered Tim Cahill in the centre but with the exception of Steven Pienaar, whois in terrific form, the Blues struggled to get anything going in a poor first half from their point of view.
They started well enough, coming out of the gates with intent and pegging Spurs back for the first five minutes or so but they failed to produce anything of note and the tide turned very much in favour of the visitors for long periods before half time.
Moving the ball around crisply, finding space in midfield and pressing down the flanks with both fulbacks in advanced positions, Tottenham became increasingly threatening. They were also aided by some over-zealous officiating by referee Lee Mason, who continually blew up for niggly fouls, more often than not in Spurs's favour.
Everton could have few complaints, though, when he booked Joleon Lescott in the 17th minute for catching Alan Hutton when he came marauding through down the right and Pienaar for encroaching on the resulting free kick. Gareth Bale smashed the retaken free-kick narrowly wide of Tim Howard's right-hand post.
FIve minutes later, a good Tottenham move almost had Robbie Keane in on goal but Lescott closed him down smartly and deflected his shot behind.
Everton reawoke after about half an hour, though, and moved up a gear before half time, Pienaar seeing a volley from 20 yards charged down, Marouane Fellaini screwing a shot from similar range badly wide and Rodwell raking a magnificent 30 yarder agonisingly over.
The home side's best chance of the half fell to Jô, though, when Pienaar played him superbly behind the defence but when his first touch took him further away from goal, Ledley King got back to deflect his shot from the angle and the chance was lost.
The Blues needed to improve markedly after the break and they did but still found penetration in the final third frustratingly elusive. Again, most of their best chances came from distance, the pick of them just before hour mark when Cahill brought down a chest-high ball and lashed a shot an inch the wrong side of the post.
Pienaar saw a similar effort arc away from goal in the 72nd minute while, at the other end, an increasingly rare Tottenham attack almost produced the game's first goal but, thankfully, Jermaine Defoe crashed his shot a foot wide from 18 yards.
The closest either side came to a goal came after 66 minutes when Haurelio Gomes flapped Pienaar's corner out to Gosling on the edge of the area and the teenager bounced a first-time effort off the ground and onto the outside of the post.
Even though Villa's defeat at Fulham means that Everton pulled to within a point of the Midlanders in the race for fifth place, this really should go down as two points dropped, particularly in view of how poor Spurs were in the second half.
Again, though, the Blues were annoyingly reliant on either trying to win the percentages game with long balls to Fellaini or on the Pienaar-Baines combination to produce an opening down the left.
Fellaini, again, cut a ponderous and erratic figure, and while Baines got into some decent positions on the overlap, his crosses were either too close to the 'keeper or were wasted by no blue shirts attacking the near post — not surprising given the fact that Jô was ploughing a lone furrow in attack.
By the time the last quarter of the game rolled around, when changes were clearly warranted, you couldn't help feeling that Moyes should have gambled a little rather than relying the same tired tactic of Fellaini behind the front man. Louis Saha came on with 20 minutes to go but it seemed a good opportunity to see how he and Jô can play together, especially seeing as the Frenchman has struggled as the lone striker. Instead, though, Moyes withdrew Jô, who had had a decent game overall, and kept the Belgian Barnet on.
Ultimately, the game petered out to a goalless draw and another two home points slipped away.
With their superior goal difference, the Blues only need to earn a point more than Villa in their last two games. They have one more game at Goodison against West Ham next week before their final-day trip to Craven Cottage — where they havem't won in a couple of generations — while Villa face two sides fighting for the Premier League lives in the form of Middlesbrough and Newcastle.
Everton open up a two-game home stand against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend looking to get back to winning ways at Goodison after the defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago and hoping for a favour from Fulham when they take on Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.
The Blues are two points behind Villa going into the third to last game of the season and stand a good chance of edging Martin O'Neill's side out of fifth place and finishing best-of-the-rest for the second successive season.
While he has spectacularly blown away the Blues' long-standing White Hart Lane hoodoo, David Moyes has only tasted home victory over Spurs once, that a 3-1 win back in the 2003-04 season, and one of the nadirs of his Goodison tenure came against the north Londoners three seasons ago when he threw on Tony Hibbert instead of going for victory and ended up losing the game late on. Plenty of incentive, therefore, for the manager to rouse his troops ahead of this one.
Hibbert will actually be Moyes's latest injury headache having sustained a neck injury that will return him to the sidelines. Lars Jacobsen, his automatic replacement, will undergo a late fitness test of his own, as will Leon Osman, as before Moyes will know upon whom he can call for his starting line-up.
If Jacobsen is also ruled out, Phil Neville would be forced to move back to right back and Jack Rodwell or Segundo Castillo would come into central midfield. The Blues are likely to be otherwise unchanged.
Tottenham have plenty of injuries concerns of their own. Aaron Lennon, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, David Bentley, Jamie O'Hara (knee) are all major doubts, while
Didier Zokora, Michael Dawson and Darren Bent are all ruled out.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2008-09 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Gosling (68' Osman)|
|Jô (68' Saha)|
|Subs not used|
|Modric (81' Pavlyuchenko :90' )|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 9 May 2009|
|Hull City||1-2||Stoke City|
|Sunday 10 May 2009|
|Man Utd||2-0||Man City|
|Monday 11 May 2009|
|Wednesday 13 May 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 13 May 2009