Tottenham looked like the Spurs of old against Everton yesterday. Two-goals up and totally cruising Spurs became wasteful in front of goal and lacked the solidity to hold onto the lead. The game was there to be put away and instead Spurs slipped on that banana-peel of a lead. While Everton showed great spirit, poor defending from substitute Gareth Bale, as well as great attacking play by newbie Everton right back Seamus Coleman Enabled Everton to level. After all that, however, Defoe had the chance to put Spurs into third in the league, yet his tepid penalty in extra time – lets hope Howard’s save is an omen for the US – condemned Spurs to what felt like a defeat. Spurs blew a huge opportunity against a weakened Everton. This was definitely two huge points lost for Tottenham.
Some takeaways from the game:
Redknapp was tactically indecisive and botched his substitutions. Harry Redknapp has not gotten much criticism at Spurs and for good reason. He has totally turned the club around. But in this case he was tactically indecisive and that ended up costing Tottenham. While Gareth Bale demonstrated his fragility defensively, Redknapp I think made a fairly wise move taking off Assou-Ekotto at half time. Having received a yellow and scuffling with Tim Cahill, Ekotto could have easily gotten a second yellow. Additionally Bale adds more offensively and Spurs had failed to hit the back of the net at that point.
Where Redknapp was at fault was not using another substitution until the 87th minute – just as Everton scored. Jermaine Jenas was preparing to go in as Everton leveled, he was needed earlier and the failure to insert him reflected a tactical confusion on the part of Spurs and Redknapp. The crucial question after Everton got their first goal was whether Spurs were going to sit back or continue to get forward. Having lost the momentum, the choice was pretty much made for them. Everton were pushing forward and putting Tottenham on the back foot. I am not saying Spurs should have packed it in. But Spurs were in need of solidifying things a bit, especially on the left side, were both Niko Krancjar and Gareth Bale were being exposed for their defensive frailties. Harry saw this, as evidenced by him selecting Jenas prior to the goal, but he waited way way to long. This should have been done closer to the 70th minute as opposed to the 90th and would have likely helped keep Everton’s right side in check.
Everton have a lot of problems but they will be alright. David Moises is too good a couch and the team has a too many talented players for them to go down or even be drawn into a relegation battle. But they are sorely missing Mikel Arteta and a creative force in the central midfield.
Gareth Bale is not quite ready to play LB. Bale was connected to both of Everton’s goals which were initiated on his side of the field. The first goal he was too easily beaten and left flat footed. On the second, he along with Kranjcar were unable to stymie Everton’s attack, enabling the dangerous situation that followed. Bale is very good going forward and is a definite option to play left midfield, but he really needs some defensive seasoning.
Crouch shouldn’t start. Peter Crouch was highly ineffective until his final flick on to Wilson Palacios in extra time, which resulted in the penalty. In that play Crouch showed why he is useful in attack, for the rest of the game however, not so much. Crouch failed to get on the end of many crosses and when he did he was wasteful. It could be noted that there wasn’t much service, but on a number of occasions balls were put into areas that Crouch should have been in, but wasn’t. With Crouch in the game, Spurs tend to play long ball too frequently, often losing possession and disrupting the rhythm of the passing game. But the basic reason he shouldn’t start is that he isn’t scoring. Crouch is the perfect player to bring on towards the end of a game when Spurs need a goal or are defending a lead. His defending on set pieces is pretty extraordinary. I would expect that when Modric returns, Crouch gets dropped and Keane returns.
There is no such thing as a foul on Peter Crouch. According to the referee yesterday, Peter Crouch commits a foul by being taller than the other guy. Crouch was abused endlessly throughout the game, with player after player clattering into him, yet Crouch always somehow was the one whistled for the foul. It was really quite shocking.