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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Wednesday 5 January 2011; 8:00 pm
Everton 
2 1
 TOTTENHAM
Saha (3')
Coleman (73') 
Half Time: 1-1
 Van der Vaart (9')
Attendance: 34,124
Fixture 21
Referee: Lee Probert

Match Summary

With Tim Cahill off to conquer a portion of the world at the Asian Cup in Qatar for the next four to six weeks, David Moyes elected to break up the fledgling Fellaini-Rodwell partnership to make room for two recognized (if misfiring) strikers, Saha and Beckford, with Heitinga selected in his natural position at centre-back for the first time this season, and two of his favourite players Hibbert and Osman both on the bench.

Some nice early play was spoilt by a poor first touch from Beckford that lost Everton possession and allowed Spurs to mount their first attack, but it was snuffed out and Everton looked to build through the middle again, and their positive approach paid massive dividends in the third minute. Louis Saha stroked home a beautiful ground shot of a simple ball in to him from Baines on the wing, he had time to turn, come inside and shoot unerringly past Gomes with his right foot to open the scoring in excellent fashion, a superb finish from the previously goal-starved Frenchman.

Would Everton build or consolidate? It was a great start, but Spurs then dominated the next 5 mins; Van der Vaart saw a chance and came very close to surprising Howard from distance with what would have been a spectacular strike. Then Crouch easily got over Heitinga and could have exacted revenge off a dangerous deep ball from Van der Vaart.

There was a big shout for a blatant push on Beckford by Hutton as Neville swung in a good cross. At the other end, Everton paused for a foul when Hutton's deep cross came in but Crouch headed into the danger area and Van der Vaart had all the time in the world to power his header past Howard who was already collapsing into the net, a very poor goal to concede.

Fellaini did well to intercept a Tottenham clearance but should have slipped it to Beckford, who was better positioned inside the area as he shot straight at Gomes. Everton put together a promising attack on 17 mins with Neville beating his man and cutting in but Beckford tried to be too clever with a difficult final ball from Saha. Good work at the back by Heitinga dispossessed Bale.

Some lively contact play, a lot involving Neville in feisty mood, was perfect to keep the Everton crowd up and behind the team. Some brilliant work by Coleman should have bought more than a corner, from which a lovely clipped in ground ball by Saha found Beckford with what looked like enough space and time but he scooped it horribly over the bar under pressure from a defender.

The next attack saw some excellent passing that got the ball in to Beckford again but his attempted turn was a little naive and Coleman could not finish the loose ball. Arteta gave away a free-kick that Heitinga headed out for a corner which was delivered dangerously but fractionally overhit by Van der Vaart and thankfully wasted.

Half-a-hour gone and it was an excellent game, fairly evenly balanced, with Everton perhaps looking the brighter and more adventurous going forward, while the Blues defence was generally coping with the renowned Spurs attacking threat. But Everton were slowing he game down too much in possession, although Arteta's snapshot did take a deflection that forced a Gomes save. They looked far better playing the ball on the ground through the middle and down the channels but too many attacks ending in lofted crosses were being easily dealt with by the massed Spurs defence.

A great steal by Coleman allowed Neville to fire in an equally good cross for Beckford but he could not get sufficient height over the ball and it looked like another poor miss as the ball looped over and wide. Arteta committed another poor foul, and Crouch still beat Fellaini to head wide. Pienaar was being almost too clever on occasions, his decisions puzzling his long-time partner Baines as he sought perhaps to impress 'Arry with flicks and backheels that bamboozled his Everton colleagues.

The Blues were giving away possession a little too easily at times, and choosing the daft back-pass for a hoof from Howard far too often instead of building on the ground. The threat from Van der Vaart was always there, a tremendous acrobatic shot from the Dutchman thankfully flying high and wide.

A dreadful giveaway by Saha from another one of those hideous needlessly stupid backward balls saw Spurs take the lead... except that Crouch had incredibly strayed offside and the goal was ruled out. Another Spurs free-kick and Van der Vaart powered his drive just inches over. But surely some huge warnings for the Blues to tighten things up in the second half...

Arteta drew a foul in a central location that he drove in low into the melee to zero effect. A superb piece of football saw Saha slip a driven ball from defence sweetly out to Coleman who ran all the way and then passes it straight into Gomes's hands. Hopeless! Dawson elbowed Coleman in the back of his head but got away with it as the ref was a little too lenient on Spurs' physical attentions.

Beckford again showed his naivet who a headed ball in from Coleman as he looked for a non-existent foul rather than using his strength and body position to beat the defender. Bale then ran at Neville who stopped him and went in the book for his troubles, given Van der Vaart anther opportunity that he drove wide to the far post for a corner off Distin. Bale went off with a back problem, to be replaced by Niko Kranjcar

Howard defended the corner but having all 11 back meant that the ball was returned from half-way with interest for another Spurs attack. An hour gone and Everton still pushing but Van der Vaart somehow beat Distin and really tested Howard. At the other end, a perfect cross from Coleman was met on the volley by Saha about his drive was clipped away from goal off Hutton.

Coleman again got ahead to the line but his cut back was too close to Gomes. He then got another chance after great work by Fellaini but curled his shot high and wide. Fellaini then brilliantly fed a through-ball to Saha but he moved the ball onto his right foot and drove over.

With so much attacking verve but no end product since the early goal, the script was beginning to look ominously familiar, Everton having played their best football of the season. Jenas gave away another central free-kick but Baines delivered it too low. A wonderful win on the wing by Fellaini was totally wasted as Arteta had no idea what to do with it and another glorious chance to pressure Spurs was wasted.

Spurs snapped up another chance but he drove straight at Gomes when more guile was needed. After almost 30 mins of sustained Everton attacking, Heitinga gave away a dangerous free-kick that Kranjcar swung in and Saha defended. Spurs then waltzed into the are down the Everton left and Van der Vaart looked certain to score but Howard pulled off an excellent close-range stop.

Crouch was allowed to run a long way with the ball and his high shot needed saving by Howard. Worrying play off the corner looked liked shooting practice for the Spurs team as they took turns in firing and Everton defence blocked solidly. But, after a long spell of Everton dominance, the impetus was swinging back to Spurs as Moyes started his 5-minute sideline lecture of Yakubu.

But before he could come on, Beckford with an excellent touch set in Saha for a good run and a really fierce shot that Gomes could only punch into the ground where it bounced up perfectly for Seamus Coleman to head home confidently and give Everton a more than fully deserved lead. Yakubu then replaced Beckford. for the last 15 mins, and then Keane replaced Lennon.

With a secure lead to sit on Everton stopped building on the ground when in possession and instead resorted to some horrible hoofed clearances, tempting Spurs to do their worst. But the onslaught was punctuated by occasional better spells of joined-up football although lacking the conviction that was there earlier. Time for a couple of subs: first Osman on for Pienaar, who picked up a knock, in the 87th minute, followed by Rodwell coming of Saha and a moment of appreciation from the buoyant Goodison crowd.

Could Everton hold on for their first win at Goodison Park since October? Time ticked on, but it was nail-biting stuff when the white shirts had possession as 4 minutes were added on. Everton kept getting good possession and should have dome more with it, Fellaini releasing Yakubu for a run in on the Spurs goal but the tame effort was nothing short of pathetic. Osman had a poke that Gomes handled comfortably.

Assou-Ekoto shoulder barged Neville off the ball, quite fairly, said the officials, as the screams for the final whistle rang around Goodison and Crouch flattened Osman. A final free-kick and that was it. An excellent win, playing much more positive, adventurous, attacking football with most players in their correct positions and no Tim Cahill. Hmmmm...

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Preview

As Everton struggle to find themselves and a season of rich promise fast becomes a lost campaign, the visit of Tottenham Hotspur, once fellow under-achievers of the Premier League era but now gate-crashers of the Sky Four party, will be a particularly painful one.

Where Everton appear to be stagnating in depressing fashion, Spurs appear to be the club doing everything right, with good levels of investment, roots in the Capital, a good mix of pace, flair and grit, a dynamic-thinking manager not afraid to play attacking football and, of course, the cash to throw £8m and an estimated £90,000-a-week salary at an inspired signing like Rafael van der Vaart.

The two sides actually played out a tightly-contested encounter back in October that ended all square and but for a Tim Howard howler, the Blues might well have taken all three points off a Tottenham side weary from their European exertions.

No such issues for Harry Redknapp's team this time around and they come to Goodison with the word "title" being mentioned in connection with their name. That may be a little fanciful with Manchester United eight points ahead of them but Spurs sit above Chelsea in 4th place and are within five points of second. That's thanks, of course, to three consecutive wins over the Festive period so they'll arrive on Merseyside full of confidence.

The opposite is true of Everton, of course, for whom the word crisis is again a looming watchword. David Moyes has publicly asked for faith from a fanbase who just want to see him recognise the need for radical change on the pitch. The manager will hardly view a game against a Champions League-calibre team as the ideal environs in which to try anything too crazy but the fans will begin to demand it the more the poor results keep coming. Four wins all season and just two at home speak for themselves.

One change Moyes will have to make, of course, is to replace one of his guaranteed starters —not to mention his top scorer — Tim Cahill who has flown out to the Middle East to represent Australia in the Asia Cup. The predictable choice would be to throw Marouane Fellaini into the role behind the lone striker as Moyes has done before but there are many who's like to see Jermaine Beckford partner one of Yakubu or Louis Saha in a 4-4-2 formation to see how they get on.

Another player ruled out is Phil Jagielka who's likely to miss two games with the thigh strain that's been troubling him since the win at Manchester City. If John Heitinga isn't fit enough to deputise, Moyes will have to decide whether to play Tony HIbbert as an emergency centre back (the defence looked shaky with him there against West Ham) or to blood Shane Duffy again. The young Irishman has already played in the Europa League for the senior team and common sense would seem to suggest that he get the nod this time as well.

And then there's Seamus Coleman who is a doubt and he will face a late fitness test along with Heitinga to see if either will make it. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is a candidate to replace the Irish fullback-turned-winger if he isn't fit, though Moyes has used Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe in that role before.

The goals and the wins need to start coming and no better time to do it than against a highly-fancied side. Morale above all needs it lest we sink further towards the mire at the bottom end of the table.

 

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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Match Reports
2010-11 Reports Index
< Stoke (A) Scunthorpe (A) >
EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Howard
  Neville :57'
  Heitinga
  Distin
  Baines
  Coleman
  Fellaini
  Arteta
  Pienaar (86' Osman)
  Saha (88' Rodwell)
  Beckford (77' Yakubu)
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Hibbert
  Bilyaletdinov
  Anichebe
  Unavailable
  Barkley (injured)
  Jagielka (injured)
  Cahill (international duty)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yobo (loan)
TOTTENHAM (4-4-2)
  Gomes
  Hutton
  Bale (58' Kranjcar)
  Gallas
  Dawson
  Assou-Ekotto
  Lennon (80' Keane)
  Jenas
  Van der Vaart
  Modric
  Crouch
  Subs not used
  Pletikosa
  Bassong
  Corluka
  Palacios
  Pavlyuchenko

Premier League Scores
Tuesday
Blackpool 1-2 Birmingham
Fulham 3-0 West Brom
Man Utd 2-1 Stoke
Wednesday
Arsenal 0-0 Man City
Aston Villa 0-1 Sunderland
Blackburn 3-1 Liverpool
Bolton 1-1 Wigan
Everton 2-1 Tottenham
Newcastle 5-0 West Ham
Wolves 1-0 Chelsea


Team Pts
1 Manchester United 44
2 Manchester City 42
3 Arsenal 40
4 Tottenham Hotspur 36
5 Chelsea 35
6 Sunderland 33
7 Bolton Wanderers 30
8 Newcastle United 28
9 Blackburn Rovers 28
10 Stoke City 27
11 Everton 25
12 Liverpool 25
13 Blackpool 25
14 Fulham 22
15 Birmingham City 22
16 West Bromwich Albion 22
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21
18 Aston Villa 21
19 Wigan Athletic 21
20 West Ham United 20

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