Saturday 19th January 2002
of recent wins over Stoke City in the FA Cup and Sunderland in the
league have taken the heat off manager Walter Smith. Coming hot on
the heels of a 0-3 home defeat by Charlton, it was just what he
needed. That has been the story of the Toffees' whole season
though. They have beaten some of the lower lights of the league
(including a 5-0 whupping of West Ham), while - Aston Villa apart - they
have gone down to the top sides. It is not as though they do not
possess quality in their squad, but it is harnessing their 4-4-2 to the
best effect that has been the problem.
Goalkeepers Paul Gerrard and Steve Simonsen have shared the duties between the posts, but the younger ex-Tranmere stopper has been in favour since taking the gloves when Gerrard was injured. Both can show good ability, but Gerrard is always prone to the odd gaff and Simonsen can be caught out on crosses, despite his height.
With Allesandro Pistone out until February and Steve Watson ruled out until a week after this match with a knock, the defence is reduced to the choice between Alec Cleland, Gary Naysmith, Alan Stubbs, David Weir and David Unsworth. The latter four are the most likely defensive line-up to be picked against Spurs. Cleland has been used sparingly, but can give a support role to the attacking wing backs. Stubbs, Weir and Unsworth are old-fashioned type central defenders, while Naysmith again offers width to push on up the wing.
Midfield is also decimated by injury. Welsh international Mark Pembridge is out of contention until February and both Abel Xavier (virus), and Thomas Gravesen with an injured ankle will not be fit enough in time for this game. That leaves Scot Scot Gemmill, Paul Gascoigne, Niclas Alexandersson, Tony Hibbert and Idan Tal. Youngster Hibbert has been thrown in alongside the more experienced Gascoigne and Alexandersson, with Gemmill providing some of the legs needed for the older starters. Gascoigne we know all about, but his skills are reduced by his pace, but not his ability, which still remains. Alexandersson is hard working and will get forward in support of the front two, while Tal has an eye for goal if he gets on the pitch.
The recently resurrected Jesper Blomqvist has started his new career with Everton with a bang, getting the winner with his head against Sunderland. He will try and make the most of this opportunity in the big time after being shown the door by Manchester United following his long injury lay-off. Skipper Kevin Campbell is a powerful striker, who links up well with giant target man Duncan Ferguson is expected to return and he usually gives Spurs a hard time, but with King doing so well against him in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season and Richards installed in the centre of defence, perhaps his threat will be minimised. Joe Max Moore has a habit of scoring when he comes on and is a nippy striker who knows where to be when the team go forward. One time big hope Danny Cadamateri is out of favour after his court case for assaulting a woman in a nightclub, but also sidelined with a hamstring injury until the week after this match. Summer signing Tomas Radzinski has a stomach strain which will rule him out for this match with Spurs.
With Everton needing to try and establish a little run of points after a dreadful Christmas and New Year programme, expect the onus to be on defending what they start off with. For Spurs, Sheringham will be back and, although without Freund and Ziege, there is enough class in reserves (something that Everton lack) to take the points, but don't expect a thriller ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 1 Everton 0
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 1 Everton 1 (Half time score: 1-1)|
|Saturday 19th January 2002|
|Kick Off : 3.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Cold, dry, bright|
|Crowd : - 36,056|
|Referee : - Mr. C. Wilkes (Gloucester)|
Scorers : - Tottenham
- Ferdinand 5
Tottenham : None
Everton : Weir (foul) 29, Ferguson (dissent) 54, Unsworth (foul) 73
Sullivan; Perry, Richards, Gardner; Taricco (Rebrov 87), Sherwood, Anderton, Leonhardsen ( Etherington 76),
Davies; Ferdinand (Iversen 46), Sheringham
: Simonsen; Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Naysmith, Gascoigne (Max-Moore
82), Gemmill, Alexandersson (Clarke 60), Hibbert; Ferguson, Campbell
Spurs : White shirts, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks
Everton : Blue shirts with white side panel, white shorts, white socks
What a strange game. Most of the action packed into the first eight minutes, then a few more moments of goalkeeping excellence, but most of the game bogged down in the middle of the pitch. This meant there were isolated outbreaks of excitement with long periods of dourness as the two midfields battled it out.
With a quick break at the beginning, sparked by the impressive Simon Davies and ending with Leonhardsen crossing well to find Les rampaging in front of Weir to nod low past Simonsen. Four minutes gone and had Spurs scored too early ? Well, Mr. Wilkes obviously thought so and awarded Everton a free-kick when Campbell (why is that name so hated ?) went over in a challenge ... from his own player Alexandersson !! The free-kick was swung over, with Taricco having two opportunities to clear it, but with the second header, he managed to loop the ball up and Weir volleyed home from just inside the area.
With Gascoigne trying to prove he is still a good Premiership player and prove a point to Hoddle, with an involved performance as he tried to spark Everton into life. There was little he could do to vary the one-dimensional approach to the game that they adopt though. At every available opportunity, they hump high balls in to Campbell and Ferguson, who try and take the ball, player, advertising hoarding, ball boy, ... whatever, with them. That Duncan Disorderly ended up getting booked for dissent rather than his leading elbow was one of the more surprising things about this game. It is an aspect of their game that is well honed and the moans from Gemmill, Campbell and Ferguson were enhanced by Weir, Unsworth and Stubbs, who complained about throw-ins, goal-kicks, corners and, I wouldn't be surprised, the toss-up at the beginning. They thought they ought to have had about four penalties in the match, which was probably a result of using the dodgy spot-kick they got against us at Goodison earlier in the season as a yard-stick.
Their two best chances came from the head of Ferguson and Stubbs in the first half. Both from corners, the Scot forced Sullivan to push the ball up over the bar and Stubbs' effort sailed just wide of the Spurs post with the keeper beaten. Late on in the second half, Ferguson again got above the Tottenham defence from a dead ball kick and his header went over on that occasion. It wasn't all one way traffic, as Spurs had their heads working too. Richards made Simonsen leap to his right to push away a firm header and Gardner nearly looped one over the Everton goalie, but was denied by his fingertips.
Indeed, after Everton had equalised the Tottenham goal, there was a chance for Les to reinstate Spurs in the lead almost immediately, but he cut his foot across the ball and it squirted off the outside of his boot and wide. Then Stubbs sliced a cross from Darren just wide of his own goal with the keeper stranded, then almost put a Davies cross in too. Davies went down in the box as the crowd shouted for a penalty, but he had been on a long run and a shoulder on his own caused his legs to give out under him. Leo was buzzing and got on the end of a couple of moves, one where he didn't manage to get a shot in and another where he was denied by a defender. The best late scoring opportunity fell to Steffen Iversen, who got on the end of Matthew Etherington's cross, but could not get over it enough and it glanced off the bar and into the Paxton crowd.
A draw was about the right result. Everton were happy with it and although Tottenham lost Les with concussion (for a change), they were pleased to come through without any further injury worries. Gardner did well against Ferguson and Perry had a very good game against Campbell. Sherwood kept the midfield ticking over and there was some great energy and running from Davies. The boy really is a star. So, some good passing on a pitch that looked decidedly rough on the East Stand side and enough chances made to score a few, but perhaps they are holding some back for Wednesday. Let's hope so !!
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CHRIS PERRY|
|STUCK IN THE MIDDLE|
|Spurs won 16 corners in the
match. A statistic that would leave you to believe that they were
closest to winning and the bar did deny Steffen Iversen in the closing
minutes, but that is not entirely true. In recent weeks, Ipswich
have plundered points from us by exploiting corner kicks, but of the 16
Tottenham had, I can rarely remember a decent one among them. The
best was the one landed on Richards head, that he met with power and
forced a fine stretching save from Simonsen.
There was a lot going on, but most of it was off the ball. Gazza shaped up to Perry after trying to claim an obstruction (when he was nowhere near the ball anyway), then sent Leo sprawling while the ball was on the other side of the pitch. A tussle between Hibbert and Taricco when the Spurs player let the ball run off for a goal-kick continued with Taz trying to trip the Evertonian up as he tried to track his forward run. With Duncan Ferguson and Campbell roughing up the Spurs defence at every opportunity, it looked like referee Mr. Wilkes would have a busy afternoon, but he satisfied himself with booking three Toffees and the most important duty of his day ... making sure free-kicks were taken from exactly the right spot. Never mind the flying elbows and late tackles.
Gazza got a good reception on his return and he was hyped up (though not to the 1991 level), as proved by his hack on Leonhardsen from behind as he was furious after being nut-megged by Anderton !! The beefy approach applied by the visitors, and typified by the front two, was in stark contrast to that shown by Scot Gemmill. You could have knocked him down with a feather, especially when he got in the penalty area. His father must be wondering how he ever scored that goal for Scotland against Holland in the 1978 World Cup, as by rights according to his son's showing, he should have been on the floor at least four times in that run.
The early goals set us all up for what we thought would be a cracker of a match, but it didn't live up to the puckish beginning and with the physical style Everton adopt, it was more of the survival of the fittest rather than a contest of skill. Spurs did try and put in some good passing moves, but too often, the final pass/cross lack penetration. With Les heading past Simonsen with good power, after a strong run down the right wing by Leonhardsen, it looked like Spurs might continue their good run over the visitors. However, one dodgy refereeing decision and one poor header later, Weir had slammed in a volley past Sullivan to equalise.
Lots of efforts were made to add to the score, but there were few that came close, although the goalkeepers were both active saving headers from Ferguson, Richards, Gardner and Stubbs getting one just off target. Iversen hit the frame as the game died out and that was as good as it got. With some players trying too hard to get the perfect goal, it needed a defender to show the way, when Stubbs hit a powerful drive from a low cross just past the post ... of his own goal from an Anderton cross !! Quite often Spurs ignored the simple option in favour of the fancy flick, which didn't come off.
This was a good performance by Spurs with a changed side - King and Poyet rested - but not one that might live long in the memory, for all the effort put in. It stretches the unbeaten run against the Toffees to ten games, the longest in the history of matches between the two teams. If only we could start to rectify such a run against Chelsea ...
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