‘Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in’ …..was the line which sprung to mind as a resolute Everton came from behind to take something from a game for the eighth time this season amidst 88 seconds of mayhem….
Teams and Tactics
Moyes made 2 changes from last week with Mirallas and Coleman coming in on the right side for Naismith and the injured Hibbert in a 4-2-3-1. Spurs went 4-4-2 with Dempsey pitched in on the left flank for Bale with Adebayor and Defoe as the strike duo in an attacking line-up.
Passing / Territory Data
Possession wise, Spurs shaded it with 50.8% to 49.2% but we had more territory with 52.9% final third possession to Spurs 47.1% with 35 v 18 penalty box touches in the Blues favour. This was translated into more chances with us having 20 shots to spurs 12. Of the shots we had, 65% came from inside Spurs 18 yard zone compared to Spurs 33% in our box.
First halfThe first half was all about us attacking down the right flank and with Spurs counter attacks predominantly down the left this area of the pitch witnessed most of the crucial action. Recently sides have targeted Spurs defensively frail left side and with Dempsey not holding his position when Spurs were not in possession we were easily able to engineer 2v1’s down this flank with Coleman and Mirallas giving Vertonghen a good going over. The Belgian picked up a booking for his troubles and with Mirallas direct running and Coleman – who seems to save his best displays for Spurs – always showing for an overlap a red looked likely.
Spurs also played a high line with an unconvincing offside trap which meant the ‘out-ball’ into the wide gulleys from Gibson was always on. The Irishman was the best player on the pitch; making the most passes (52) and best accuracy but what was most crucial was his quick long passes from central to wide areas which kept pressure on spurs full backs. He completed 12/14 long balls with an overall pass completion of 96.3% in Spurs half – the highest of any player on the pitch – and 92.3% completion in the final third.
In the second half without the ‘out ball’ to Mirallas we went longer to Fellaini – a move which paid limited dividends. The Belgian endured a subdued afternoon; he was dispossessed the most (6) and made more unforced errors (5) of anyone on the pitch. Spurs are a capable outfit and played well in the second half especially on the counter and after Dempsey had given them the lead could have been out of sight with Sigurdsson’s shot hitting the bar. The North London outfit do concede lots of goals late on in games (10 goals to the tune of 14pts in the last 15mins of matches) and given our fitness and with the extra days rest you thought we would get a chance if we kept applying pressure especially given that Spurs had by now dropped quite deep and were basically defending their 18 yard line.The two goals came when Fellaini had moved into a deeper midfield role with Velios up top. Firstly, amidst chaos in the Spurs area, Caulker unnecessarily hacked a clearance his keeper Lloris had covered, enabling Naismith to play in Coleman who showed great composure to pick out a nice cross for Pienaar to head home. With Spurs rocking, Coleman took a quick throw to Gibson whose delivery was aerobically flicked on by sub Velios for Jelavic to instinctively dart between the static Gallas and Caulker to tap home.
Final wordThis was a crucial win given that a Spurs victory would have seen us 6 points off the pace in the ‘race’ for fourth spot. We dominated the first period and should have gone in at the break in front and you wondered if it was going to be another tale of L4 woe. After the break Spurs had decent moments towards the end and will feel unfortunate to lose the game in the way they did but I’d say we were worthy winners.