Sages the breadth of Christendom have been popping up all over the media this season to opine knowingly that our heroes would struggle to cope with the rigours of Champions League and the Premiership each week. As such I was jolly well hoping that we would emphatically destroy Everton with a loud roar of triumph (or at the very least fashion another 2-1 win) to prove the blighters wrong – but in truth we looked every inch a team jaded from the madcap doings of Wednesday night.
Lofting Crosses Into Orbit: The Tottenham Way?
The first task of the day was to negotiate the first 13 minutes without going 3-0 down. While this was successfully achieved the effort evidently took its toll, as just moments later we conceded. Still, coming from behind is very much the vogue for our heroes these days, and it was the old Crouch-VDV combo yet again.
This time the goal was hardly the prettiest thing we have witnessed at the Lane all season – with Tim Howard attempting to swat a passing wasp rather than bothering with the incoming cross; Crouch doing his best to let the ball roll off his stomach; and VDV seemingly convinced that if he snapped the net from its moorings he would actually be awarded two goals. It is difficult to complain about the tactic of launching balls into orbit from the flanks for the gangly one to set up VDV, as it bears fruit every week. However, here at AANP Towers we would prefer the ball to be kept on the green stuff, at least until the alarm bells clang to inform us that desperate measures are called for.
Aside from the goal nothing really clicked, which is always rather a shame. Last season, free from midweek exertions, I suspect we would have found a way to eke out three points; this time our lot looked a tad flat, and by the final whistle, absolutely shattered.
Bale and VDV: Possibly Mere Mortals After All
Unsurprisingly, every time the ball went anywhere near Bale Everton players swarmed all over him. He still wriggled free occasionally, but his wonderfulness was generally stymied, while VDV was also well-marshalled. (Although it is nice to see that he cares so much for the cause that he is willing to give the advertising hoarding a good kicking. Good lad.)
As a result of the focus upon Bale and VDV, young Modders became our default string-puller. He seemed rather to enjoy himself, in his own shy little way, but with no inclination to burst into the Everton area and scare the bejesus out of its guardians, his impact was ultimately a tad limited.
Right-Flank Version 2.0: Lennon and Hutton
Not sure if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have ever actually sat down and explained the concept to Alan Hutton, but he jolly well retains the look of a man who simply does not believe that he is a defender.
As he seems convinced that victory will be achieved if he sprints to the opposite by-line at a rate of knots, his interplay with Lennon on the right wing is vastly different from that of Corluka and Lennon. Back in the day the lumbering Croat would hang back and play cute little diagonal balls as Lennon whizzed forward, jazz-hands merrily a-waving; now it seems the trick is for Lennon to jink inside, while Hutton overlaps on the right. A fledgling manoeuvre, but one that in time may bear fruit.
Elsewhere on the Pitch
Kaboul was a fairly reassuring presence at the back; Palacios was decent enough without rediscovering the form of his early days in lilywhite; and right across the pitch similar adjectives of gentle-but-by-no-means-rip-roaring-praise could be dished out. Decent but unspectacular, we did not really do enough to merit a win. A draw at home to an in-form Everton is not a bad result, but is nevertheless the sort of thing that will leave us short of the top-four come May. Curses.