December 7, 2009
I preface this by saying that prior to the season starting, the majority of us would have happily accepted a draw at Goodison Park. Whilst we have a good record there, it is undoubtedly a tricky place to go, and David Moyes has assembled a very tough unit. However, when looking at the starting line-up yesterday, and certainly the line-up once Yobo had been replaced by 21-year old Coleman, you have to feel a little disappointed that we couldn‘t take advantage.
For the majority of the game, Spurs were dominant – we had 19 shots, 11 on target, whereas Everton had 15, 6 on target. Our patterns of play tended to be one and two touch, relatively fluid football, with the occasional long ball to Crouch. We broke forward at pace, and with creativity, and looked like a real threat. Everton’s main route was a high ball into the channel, attempting to turn our defenders or, once Saha and Yakubu came on, a high ball directed towards them (they were, admittedly, playing without two of their best creative players, Arteta and Osman).
We carved out some really excellent chances, and we should have been clear. I am disappointed that Defoe hasn’t shown more consistency since the Wigan game; for the third game running, he missed some good opportunities. He was up against a makeshift centre back in Hibbert and, on the whole, he didn’t test him enough in my opinion. Crouch also looked very short of confidence in front of goal, and the one-on-one to make it 3-0 was the one that should have really put us out of sight.
In essence, we only have ourselves to blame for 1. not finishing Everton off, and 2. allowing them back into the game; yes, there were individual errors from the likes of Bale (1st goal in particular) and Palacios and Bassong (2nd goal) – more on these later – but Defoe and Crouch’s misses were as bad as those errors, and so we shouldn’t just be pointing the finger at our defenders.
Many people on forums this morning are criticising a lack of fight/spirit – personally I thought we gave as good as we got. Dawson could easily have been shown a second yellow for the elbow on Fellaini, and Assou–Ekotto was cutting it fine when shoving away Cahill/Fellaini after the incident where he arguably dragged his studs across Cahill’s head. Frankly, I’d rather see us being more clinical – staying calm and emotionless is just as important as showing fight in my opinion. For example, all three of our Croatians have that quiet calmness, which I think has helped us as a team generally, although clearly you need a good mix of qualities in the squad.
We must also remember the ages of some of the players that have been regulars this year – we have a lot of players that are still young and still learning the game, and we don’t have too many older, experienced heads in the squad. Our players aren’t as experienced as the likes of Chelsea (who incidentally let a lead slip this weekend and missed a penalty too, but actually lost) or United, or even Villa.
Yesterday we ended with the following back-line:
And our starting midfield:
These players are as young as the “kids” that certain other teams have, yet don’t seem to get the same breathing space.
I think the point that I’d like to end with is that I see in this team, for the first time in a fair while as a Spurs fan, signs of improving individuals (Lennon, Huddlestone, Assou–Ekotto), and signs of a team growing together as a unit. We need to be patient with them, allow them time to develop, and accept that 6th or 7th is not a bad finish – I would have taken that before the season started. If we don’t finish in the top 4 or 5 this year, it won’t be the end of the world. We don’t need to go and replace half the team again in the hope that it will push us two places higher up the league next year because, mark my words, we will end up setting ourselves back yet again.