Howard To The Rescue As Blues Draw A Blank

After a week in which Everton showed there resolve and determination to keep hold of one of our best players in the face of relentless shameful media and Chelsea pressure, most of it underhanded and snake-like.
It was perhaps fitting, not to mention irritating, that the blues ground out a point at White Hart Lane, in much the same fashion they defied the other London team off the pitch this week.

By @Markthablue

I say irritating because I firmly believed we had the chance to beat a Tottenham side who haven’t set the world alight at the beginning of this season. Nothing’s ever as easy as it seems though and in the end, if were being honest, we got away with it here.

The fact that Tim Howard was man of the match, and deservedly so, says it all about a performance which at best could be described as gritty, and at worst sloppy.

Credit to Tim Howard for his performance. At the risk of ending everything positive I say with a negative, given Howard’s penchant for conceding soft goals, it was nice to see him play a key part in us registering our second clean sheet away from home this season.

On a positive note, having lost at Southampton and Spurs last season, to come away from four points from the two corresponding fixtures on paper represents some progress. In reality Spurs should have seen us off but for some great saves from Howard. That’s what he gets paid to do, and it was nice to see some corn being earned from our American.

The team looked tired, going to extra time with Barnsley was not ideal but having a threadbare squad hardly helped. It’s an issue Roberto and the board have been aware of for some time, and there are no excuses for us being so light on the ground before September has even hit.

Wednesday night’s exertions certainly took their toll here. Admittedly, that sounds like we’d just held Real Madrid to a goalless draw at the Bernabau, not a league cup win at Barnsley.

Lukaku clearly could have done more in the match but obviously was leggy. Fair to say the Belgian didn’t have his best game in an Everton shirt.

In the interests of balance I thought Kone had another tidy game. His work rate and touch were impressive and very much in keeping with his start to the season. Still, extra quality is desired up front before the window shuts if we’re to progress this season.

But it wasn’t just Rom who was out of sorts. I thought McCarthy disappointed, and wasn’t helped by Gareth Barry who had a ‘mare. The pace of the game clearly way too fast for him.

It continues to be a source of amazement and irritation that Barry gets as much game time as he does. He was Spurs’ main creative outlet at times, such was his doziness in possession.

That said, the game started with the Blues looking neat and tidy in possession, but without much cutting edge. The pattern of play soon changed as the hosts began to get a foothold in the game. Bentaleb dragging wide from the edge of the 18 yard box.

The Blues then pressed and Cleverley took advantage of some awful play by Kyle Walker, robbing the Spurs right back, who looked like he’d been woken up at 3am, before cutting inside to fire a 20 yard pile driver that Lloris palmed over. A yard or two either side and Cleverely would have been celebrating his first Everton goal.

Aside from that moment of genuine danger from the Toffees, we barely threatened Spurs. Barkley clearing the O2 arena with one, and then testing Lloris concentration with a low effort. Everton forays into the Spurs half were few and far between.

Different story at the other end, Tim Howard, enjoying a fine afternoon, pulled off a crucial stop as Harry Kane bared down on goal, the baddie from Passenger 57 lookalike, showed his lack of confidence with a few indecisive touches before finally shooting. Howard resisting the urge to do the starfish, stood up and made a great save with his legs to keep the score at 0-0.

The Blues were also thankful to their American goalkeeper moments later. Chadli playing Mason in, his low shot was again saved well by Howard. The American also pulled off-key stops from Bentaleb and Alderweireld before the break. We truly ought to have been 3 or 4 down.

The hope for a rejuvenated and higher quality Everton was hardly helped by an injury to the unlucky Tom Cleverley. Enjoying an impressive start to his Everton career, the midfielder found himself on the wrong end of a challenge from former blue Eric Dier. Nothing wrong or malicious with the challenge, but it looked horrible for Cleverley who was stretchered off moments later to be replaced by Kevin Mirallas.

Let’s hope Cleverley recovers quickly and gets back in the team. He has been proving the doubters wrong and I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of what he can bring to our team when fully fit.

The second half started with the hope the Blues would come out sharper with a higher tempo. Generous to a fault, we once again allowed Spurs to start on the front foot. Chadli, usually clinical with a sight of goal, fluffed his shot tamely wide from 18 yards.

Tottenham were dominating now, and were frustrated to see Howard at his best again on 54 minutes. Mason running onto a Deli Ali pass, aided by another Barry faux pas, saw another goal bound shot well-saved by Tim Howard.

I feel like I’m commenting on the Belgium/USA game here. Its a pity our team didn’t enjoy itself as much as Howard did at White Hart Lane.

Spurs were now creating chances at will, helped by Everton’s lethargy. Gareth Barry, now officially assisting Spurs more than his own team, gifted Ali a chance, but thankfully, his effort was equally as bad as Barry’s first touch.

Spurs, all over us like a cheap suit now, saw another 2 chances go begging. On 65 minutes, Harry Kane saw his shot blocked, with Chadli following up with the goal at his mercy, surely 1-0?? Not to be as Chadli found the bloke taking a piss in the men’s instead the back of the net.

Everton were now resembling Rocky in the first Clubber Lang fight.

With just over 20 minutes left, Lukaku was replaced by Naismith. Big Rom had a  poor game, be it the 120 minutes v Barnsley or just not being his day, whatever the reason, I’m not going to go to town on Lukaku. The guy’s a goalscorer and will have days like this. Just like McCarthy, whose quality will always win out. What is clear is the lack of creativity in the side is hurting us.

The need for that creative number ‘ten’ has never been greater and it’s hoped this painful transfer window will yield a genuine class talent to put in our team who can make the difference. Let’s face it, we deserve a bit of excitement this window.

A rare moment of excitement came on 73 minutes when Oviedo sent in a terrific Hinchcliffe-esq cross from the left. The ball was met by Kone, but his glancing header was misdirected just past the far post with Lloris beaten.

Steven Naismith had a penalty claim rightly rejected by the referee, before Harry Kane had the ball in the net only for the linesman to immediately it out for offside. No heart stopper this one.

Mirallas ought to have done better from an ideally placed free kick 20 yards from goal but harmlessly put his effort over the bar. It’s the hope that kills you and as I was convinced we were about to see a Mirallas special. But it was more Johnny Wilkinson than David Beckham to be fair.

The game petered out with no grandstand finish. The Blues stuck manfully to the task but any kind of performance akin to Southampton away this season and I’m convinced we’d have won here. We just looked to slow and lethargic to achieve this.

Had we strengthened in the summer to any kind of level maybe we’d have had more options at Barnsley to get the job done without using our key players. And we may have seen a more dynamic and energetic Everton at White Hart Line.

It’s the same dynamism and energy that is now required in the boardroom. I know I’m dealing in the realms of fantasy here, the board have been quieter this summer than Anne Frank and her family during a random attic check.

We have to get some genuine quality in to help our talented youngsters this season. It’s not asking much is it?

Mini rant over. I thought Stones and Jags were excellent in the main, defending manfully at times with very little protection from midfield. I can’t praise the rest of the team to the same extent. No deluded Brendan ramblings here, but high praise indeed for the travelling blues fans.

Not just for their dedicated support in numbers but for an early Christmas No1 contender with “Money can’t buy you Stones.” I loved it, and even better coming off the back of Chelsea’s home defeat to Crystal Place.

It does sound small-time to be smug about this, I get that, especially given our transfer activity. But such has been the dirty, low, underhanded vileness of Chelsea and its media arm – the entirety of Fleet Street no less – You’ll allow me that, I’m sure.

It was great to see their arrogance returned with interest by Everton and its fans. A true show of defiance and Unity. EvertonThat.

I hope John Stones can now move on from this, concentrate on his football and become the Rolls Royce of a player we know he can be. Everton with John Stones has a better ring to it than without.

If only the board showed as much ambition in signing players, as they did in keeping them in this case, we’d be laughing.

To gain a point when we haven’t played well is encouraging. The hope now has to be with minutes rather than hours left in the transfer window, the blues can show some ambition – other than keeping hold of John Stones – and go and  make signings of intent to give the club a much-needed lift.

The fans need it and the team clearly needs it. Frustratingly, it’s more in hope than expectation that we see a few class acts arrive at Finch Farm by close of play on Tuesday.

£776 Million spent already in this window by Premier League clubs with the Blues contributing around 5m doesn’t tell the whole story, but it says it all for me nonetheless. Giving the impression we’ve been refused entry into a nightclub as all around us party, we’re truly in a patched up dingy with one paddle under this board. And the lack of any ambition they have is becoming an embarrassment.

This has got to change before the window slams shut at 6pm on Tuesday. Fans need to see that the club wants to move forward, not stay in the shallow end made up our feet can touch the floor.

So come on Everton, let’s stop being predictable and let’s get surprising people. A borderline negligent window needs addressing, let’s hope the fax machine is plugged in and Kenwright’s cobwebbed cheque book is out.

I’ll save any board rage that is bubbling beneath until the outcome of the transfer window. But if you want to know in the meantime, just follow me on twitter.

“We looked a little tired in attack after we had played 120 minutes on Wednesday. Spurs had more energy than us.” Roberto Martinez

Time to get energetic signing the cheques Kenwright. That illusive ball-point pen has sat around doing nothing long enough.

Sin Miedo

Mark Ellis

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Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter

Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.

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