Everton 0-0 Tottenham: Blues stop the rot against Spurs

Everton striker Richarlison (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Everton striker Richarlison (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /

Well at least it wasn’t another defeat as Everton ended a dreadful three-game losing run by playing out a fairly dull goalless draw with Tottenham this afternoon.

Ensuring they didn’t get beaten again was the priority for Everton in this game and that’s exactly what they managed to do. And with a little more luck and composure in front of goal they might have won it in the end.

The Toffees’ had a decent claim for a penalty when Hugo Lloris brought down Richarlison in the second half that the home side had shaded. It looked a good shout but the referee decided the Spurs keeper had got a touch on the ball as he brought down the Brazilian.

Let’s be honest the Blues rarely get the breaks with these sorts of decisions and so it proved again this afternoon.

Another downside was a red card this time for substitute Mason Holgate who was sent off for his tackle on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Once again this probably looked worse than it was and now he’s out of contention for several matches when the Premier League returns.

Manager Rafa Benitez decided on a formation with a sort of three-man midfield, which I and many others had been advocating for this game.

Interestingly, he selected Andros Townsend alongside Allan and Fabian Delph with Townsend also able to link up with Richarlison and the two wide attackers Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray. This provided a bit more support for Richarlison and he wasn’t as isolated as had been the case at Wolves.

Overall, Everton looked a lot more solid and organised today with this system and Delph once again had a good match providing energy, commitment and drive as he did when he came on at Molinuex.

The ex-Manchester City man’s return from his latest long-term injury has been well-timed. Let’s just hope he can stay fit and in good form, at least until Abdoulaye Doucoure returns.

Another player who did well was Gordon. I had hoped he would get a long-overdue chance to start a Premier League game this afternoon. He was bright at times going forward and had a half chance that he put over the bar.

His willingness to work for the cause also helped provide more defensive cover for Seamus Coleman at right-back who could tuck in more almost giving the home team a back-three at times.

I wanted to see a reaction from the players after those three previous losses and there was a much better attitude on display, which is something at least to build on. Players like Micheal Keane and Ben Godfrey who had struggled so much recently were better.

Now, comes the latest international break and hopefully Benitez might have at least one or two of his missing first-team starters – particularly Yerry Mina and maybe Doucoure – back when the Premier League returns.

In truth today, neither team really ever looked like breaking the deadlock today and it was a game of few clear chances. Antonio Conte had set up his Spurs side to be well organised and with Benitez also prioritising a point with his approach, the match had 0-0 written all over it.

Tottenham had some moments in the first forty-five minutes but while they had plenty of the ball they weren’t a big danger with their star striker Harry Kane again well off the pace. It looks like Conte has plenty to do to get him back to his best.

As so often, the away team’s biggest threat came from Son Heung-Min. The South Korean was busy but the Blues’ defended well and importantly repulsed any set-piece threat as well without too many problems.

In the second half Everton got a better grip on the game and looked more dangerous themselves. It was then that they had probably the best opportunity to win it with the penalty claim.

Late on Benitez made a few changes and that unsettled the home team’s cohesion giving Spurs a late undeserved chance to win it, especially after Holgate’s sending off. They hit the woodwork with minutes left but the Toffees’ held on for the draw.

So, in the end a better effort and a much-needed point with a clean sheet as well, something that we’ve seen far too little of recently. And one other positive is that Liverpool have just been beaten too so a satisfactory conclusion to the weekend for Evertonians, although of course it would have been perfect if the Blues’ had managed to snatch the win.

Now hoping against the odds that we’ll have no more injuries after this latest in the seemingly interminable  international breaks, this group of players will have to maintain that work ethic and determination and improve further for a really tough run of fixtures coming up.