A big game against Spurs with Pienaar back but Arteta and Osman were added to the burgeoning injury list. Everton kicked off but the tempo was slow from both sides. The first action of note came when Coleman was judged to have fouled Assou-Ekotto but Everton defended it and Yakubu won a free-kick in midfield, Palacios getting booked; however, Hietinga's freekick flew straight to Gomes. Cahill hit a hard shot on target from distance but Gomes had it covereed.
Neville tripped Bale with a poor tackle but the free-kick was defended well. By 15 mins, Spurs had settled into pumping high balls that Everton headed away until Modric took a shot that forced the first save out of Howard. It was Everton's turn to press and The Yak won an excellent free-kick that Baines curled brilliantly just inside the post to give the Blues a fantastic lead on 18 mins, with Gomes rooted.
But a terrible piece of goalkeeping saw Howard's cleansheet soiled when he flapped hopelessly at a cross that Crouch bundled back across goal and Van der Vart smashed in from all of 6 inches. Shockingly poor surrender of a brilliant lead. Everton took the blow and carried on but Modric was given enough space to shoot just wide as Spurs started to play more. Everton still put some good moves together, Bily and Yak trying to combine better.
Coleman and Neville were keeping Bale reasonably quiet but Coleman was worryingly giving away a couple of silly fouls. Back came the lofted balls for Crouch with Neville and Jags effectively double-teaming him, while the home crowd bayed for penalties. At the other end, Modric dragged down Coleman, setting up an identical free-kick chance for Baines but this time he went for the other side and fired it well over.
Everton won another promising free-kick wide right but it came to nothing. Jagielka was alert with a fantastic piece of defending to disposess Van der Vart, who then dived in vain for a free-kick and should have been booked for simulation. Some good work involving Pienaar on the right setting it up for Neville to cross but it was a complete waste. A better move saw a better cross but Cahill and Bily went for the same ball. A good Spurs move finally set up Crouch for a free headeer but he sent it thankfully straight at Howard. 1-1 at half-time but it really should have been 0-1 to Everton.
Palacios was removed at half-time to avoid a second yellow card, Sandro on instead for Spurs, who had a rare ground attack that Crouch screwed wide. Cahill got forward well and won a corner off a Distin ball but Gomes got to Baines's excellent corner. Lennon then collapsed patheically when Coleman barely touched him: unjust yellow card for the Irishman. Everton had to resist some strong pressure and a header going wide from Kaboul. Distin then compltely misjudged a header but Howard was there to cover.
Another Baines corner was not close enough to Cahill as Everton got in a couple of good attacks, with Beckford and Saha warming up. A clever free-kick fired in low by Heitinga won a corner that was defended away as Spurs looked visibly tired on the hour mark. Would the Blues take advantage? Lots of instructions for Saha from Moyes before he finally came on in place of Yakubu, who had started hobbling. Everton had played well enough to ths point, notably without threatening the Spurs goal from open play.
Pienaar went on a good diagonal run but zero end product — a poor ball too far ahead of Coleman. Everton had a clear opportunity to really push The Spurs but were disappointingly spurning it. Pavlukvechenko came on in place of Lennon, with Bale switching sides and getting Crouch a chance that he drove at Howard. Cahill had a pop from distance that flew wide. Van der Vaart went in the book after he reacted badly to being denied a corner off Cahill.
Bily won a corner with 15 mins left but Bale headed it away with ease and poor play by Heitinga allowed Spurs to break, winning a corner. Saha got on a run that Sandro stopped illegally: yellow card as Hibbert replaced Heitinga. Neither team was really convincing at this stage, and the game could go either way, the concern being that Moyes had settled for a draw. Cahill started to limp as Beckford stripped off but he eventually replaced Coleman with 7 mins to go.
Beckford's first contribution was a foul. As the minutes ticked away, it was Spurs who applied the most pressure, Everton as ever maddeningly wasteful with the possession they had. Bily set up Saha but he was too slow and the shot was blocked. Hibbo went for the big one but his shot was horribly wide. Beckford then pathetically gifted the ball to Bale in midfield allowing Spurs one final attack and it ended 1-1.
A good result on paper, and for a decimated Everton squad, but — let there be no doubt: this was two points squandered.
Everton stretched their unbeaten run to four games and retained, for a day or so at least, 11th place in the Premier League with a well-earned but ultimately frustrating draw.
In their quest to recover quickly from an abysmal start, the Blues were presented with a gilt-edged opportunity to grab all three points on a ground from which only one team has emerged victorious all year, but another horrendous error by Tim Howard allowed Tottenham back into a game they rarely looked energetic enough to win.
Injuries, not just to players already ruled out from the start but also those who picked up knocks as the game progressed, played a part in Everton's failure to carry their first-half momentum into the second period, but they at least held firm at the back as their hosts increased the pressure in the closing stages to grab an important draw.
With Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman already out, Mikel Arteta joined the ranks of the walking wounded on the sidelines, but Steven Pienaar made a surprise return, providing a straight replacement for the Spaniard's flair in midfield. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov came in for Osman on the left in an otherwise unchanged line-up from the side the beat Liverpool last weekend.
The Blues have made a habit of starting strong and dominating matches in recent weeks and though they didn't have everything their own way in the opening quarter of an hour or so today, they were certainly in confident enough mood, particularly with Pienaar probing and Yakubu picking up where he left off last week with another robust performance leading the line solo ahead of Tim Cahill.
Both goalkeepers had to make saves from speculative efforts from outside the box in the first quarter of an hour, Heurelio Gomes gathering Cahill's drive from 30-plus yards and Howard pushing Luka Modric's low drive behind for a corner.
But when Younis Kaboul chopped Yakubu down on the edge of the Tottenham area in the 16th minute, the stage was set for Leighton Baines to sweep a pefectly-placed free kick into the top corner and hand Everton a precious early advantage. The 'keeper could only admire the defender's effort as it flew into his net; a fine goal that might never have come to pass had Arteta been on the field.
Having grabbed the lead, the key for David Moyes's side was, of course, to tighten up at the back and not concede a quick equaliser but they'd been ahead just four minutes when Alan Hutton swung a deep cross to the far post and Howard completely missed his punch, allowing Peter Crouch to serve the equaliser on a plate for Rafael van der Vaart, the only player within 10 yards who anticipated the ball coming back across goal. The Dutchman couldn't miss from right on the goal line and it was 1-1.
The Blues appeared unperturbed by the setback but they generally lacked a cutting edge and their only real chance to regain the lead before half time came when Modric barged Seamus Coleman over and Baines was given the opportunity to repeat his goalscoring heroics from almost the same spot as before. Unfortunately, he went for the other corner and blazed over the bar.
At the other end, Modric whipped a shot inches wide and Crouch planted a free header straight at Howard when he really should have scored.
The second half was an altogether tighter affair and Everton gradually fell away as an attacking force, ceding the initiative to a Spurs side looking jaded from their midweek Champions League exertions. With Bilyaletdinov again not asserting himself in any meaningful way there wasn't as much service from the left as usual and Coleman was a subdued force down the opposite flank ahead of the disappointing Phil Neville.
That left most of the onus on Pienaar but, though he tried gamely before he visibly tired in the closing stages, he wasn't able to single-handedly drive the team on to victory. Cahill, Heitinga, Yakubu and Coleman all suffered knocks in the second half, visibly slowing them down and the last three of those four were replaced one by one by Moyes. Louis Saha made a welcome return in place of the Yak but save for one right-footed shot that was charged down at close range, he didn't get much of a look-in.
Indeed, Pienaar's wayward left-footed drive was the only other shot of note from a Blue shirt after the interval, while Spurs had plenty of chances to create things from set-pieces and sloppy give-aways by the likes of Heitinga, Jagielka and substitute Jermaine Beckford, but failed to capitalise.
In the end, a fair result and a valuable point, but an opporutnity definitely missed by Moyes's men. Tottenham were lacklustre and impotent for the most part and with a bit more guile and determination — not to mention a couple of key players — Everton might have exploited their hosts' mental and physical fatigue.
Howard 6, Neville 6, Baines 7, Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Heitinga 6 (Hibbert 6), Pienaar 7*, Coleman 6 (Beckford 3), Cahill 6, Yakubu 7 (Saha 7)
Consecutive 2-0 victories, a leap into 11th place, three points off sixth place... things have certainly taken on a wholly different complexion for an Everton team that was rock bottom of the Premier League a few weeks ago with even their manager having to discuss the "R" word.
A first win at Birmingham was followed by the stirring conquest of Liverpool last weekend, restoring a large measure of lost confidence and putting the focus back on the right end of the table, but the Blues face arguably their biggest test of the campaign so far with a trip to White Hart Lane in the live lunchtime Saturday game.
In addition to the stern test posed by a Spurs team that very nearly came back from 4-0 against European Champions Inter on Wednesday, Everton have injuries that will again leave David Moyes unable to name his strongest team.
Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini, Victor Anichebe and now Leon Osman are sidelined with medium-term injuries and both Louis Saha and Steven Pienaar are doubts with calf and groin injuries respectively. In addition, both Mikel Arteta and John Heitinga were withdrawn early from the derby with muscle strains. Both of the latter are expected to be passed fit, though, along with Tim Cahill who had had knee and shoulder issues of his own already this season.
Spurs will welcome back their new star man, Rafael van der Vaart, who missed the Champions League game through suspension and Moyes will also have an eye on the threat posed by Gareth Bale from left back. Tony HIbbert would seem to be the best defence against the marauding wing-back and Moyes may elect to use him and move Phil Neville into central midfield, either alongside or in place of Heitinga.
Osman's injury will force a change in left midfield, with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov the obvious choice if Pienaar isn't ready, though the "secret" — but thus far unused — Magaye Gueye is another option.
So far, only Wigan Athletic have come away from White Hart Lane with a victory in the League this season but Spurs have shown some fallibility coming off European games and Moyes will be looking to exploit that any way he can.
Victory would be another huge shot in the arm for the Blues and with continued penetration in the final third, it's by no means beyond them.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2010-11 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Lennon (69' Pavlyuchenko)|
|Van der Vaart:74'|
|Palacios:10' (46' Sandro :78')|
|Subs not used|
|Heitinga (78' Hibbert)|
|Coleman:51' (84' Beckford)|
|Yakubu (63' Saha)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|20||West Ham United||6|