Everton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Pressing attacks come up empty at Goodison (video)

4 Comments

A surprisingly exciting match given the few amount of chances saw the two squads play to a 0-0 draw.

It was a tale of two halves, with the visitors flying in the first half but coming out empty handed, and the home side controlled the second half with the same result.

Spurs, having won away at Hull City last week despite what Andre Villas-Boas called “practically no support,” began the match by overwhelming the Everton defense.

AVB’s side tossed unending pressure at Everton’s defense, which struggled to hold its shape and track the movement and pace of the Tottenham wingers Lewis Holtby and Andros Townsend.

The frustration pushed Everton to the brink, with Howard receiving a yellow card from referee Kevin Friend in the opening 15 minutes for dissent, and defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines could be seen voicing their displeasure on numerous occasions.

The pressure earned Spurs a litany of free kicks, one of which saw Kyle Walker test Howard in the 19th minute, but the American keeper held firm to deny the defender’s strike.  Romelu Lukaku, starting by himself up front with Aroune Kone out injured, was forced to come back and defend a bit as well, using his imposing figure to assist his back four.

Spurs maintained their pressure into the depths of the first half, as the game blasted open in the 23rd minute.  Everton did their best to counter and push Spurs back but they struggled mightily to get out of their own half.

source: Getty Images
Lewis Holtby, whose father is a die-hard Everton supporter, was a key fixture in Spurs strong first half.

However, nothing came of the pressure for Spurs, and finally, on the half hour mark, Everton began to put a foothold into the match.  The visitors have struggled mightily this season in developing the final ball to score from open play.

The second half proved more fruitful for Everton. Lukaku identified Vlad Chiriches as the weakest link in the Spurs back four, and he looked to exploit that on a few occasions.  Lukaku nearly broke on a 3-on-2 opportunity just after halftime but Michael Dawson made a pinpoint tackle in the box.

Everton pressed more with their substitutions, and James McCarthy nearly found Lukaku in front of goal but the big Belgian couldn’t get a clean touch to it with a defender glued to his hip.

As both teams strongly pressed for a goal on both sides, a scary moment came over Goodison Park in the 78th minute. Lukaku went full-speed chasing a long ball, which Lloris easily collected.  The 20-year-old, running at pace, couldn’t stop in time and just caught Lloris on the head with his knee, which appeared to possibly knock the Spurs goalkeeper unconscious momentarily.

Clearly wishing to continue, a long and ferocious argument by Lloris to stay on the pitch proved successful, despite Spurs medical staff and players alike pleading with the Frenchman to come off in favor for American Brad Friedel.

Everton were clearly on top following the incident, with subs Ross Barkley and Gerard Delofeu making large impacts on their attacking play.

The draw looked more and more evident as the nine minutes of stoppage time continued to tick, and Spurs will be disappointed to have wasted their impressive first half and finish yet another game with no goals from open play.

The draw muddies the waters at the top of the table even further. The point for Spurs pushes them up to fourth place level on points with Chelsea and Liveprool, while Everton remain in seventh equal with Manchester City and Southampton.

LINEUPS:

Everton – Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas (Delofeu, 63′), Osman (Barkley, 63′), Piennar; Lukaku (Jelavic, 86′).

Spurs – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Vertonghen; Sandro (Dembele, 61′), Paulinho; Townsend, Holtby (Eriksen, 86′), Lennon (Sigurddson, 69′); Soldado.

“Amazing Game” – Pep’s Man City reinforces UCL, PL bid with Napoli win

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

If it hasn’t already, Manchester City is one win away from making a Premier League-UEFA Champions League double a very real goal.

The hosts had to scrap to hold onto all three points against visiting and Serie A leading Napoli on Tuesday, giving away two penalty kicks after building a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium.

[ RECAP: Man City 2-1 Napoli ]

But Ederson stopped Dries Mertens effort, and opened the door to further dreaming for supporters of Pep Guardiola‘s dreamy deep squad.

It wasn’t 7-2, or even 4-0, but Guardiola was gushing after a mutually adventurous football match between two electric squads.

“It was an amazing game. Outstanding. Both wanted to play against high pressing. Napoli are one of the best teams I have faced in my career. If you are not aggressive without the ball you have no chance to survive.”

There’s still a very tricky match week in the fourth round at Napoli, and we wonder whether Guardiola will prioritize the Premier League visit from Arsenal later that week. And, even better, it may not be a necessity to prefer either: The Gunners will have one less day’s rest thanks to Europa League play, aren’t exactly inspiring this season, and playing stars twice in four days isn’t the end of the world with an international break following the Arsenal tilt.

City’s status on the precipice of the UCL knockout rounds means it can focus on the Premier League, as well as a kind draw that should put them within three rounds of a League Cup title. While Burnley has been quite good this season, no one’s debating that City could pile up points for their table lead as 2017 nears its conclusion with an away Manchester Derby on Dec. 9:

Sunday – vs. Burnley (PL)
Oct. 24 – vs. Wolves (League Cup)
Oct. 28 – at West Brom (PL)
Nov. 1 – at Napoli (UCL)
Nov. 5 – vs. Arsenal (PL)
Nov. 18 – at Leicester City (PL)
Nov. 21 – vs. Feyenoord (UCL)
Nov. 26 – at Huddersfield Town (PL)
Nov. 29 – vs. Southampton (PL)
Dec. 2 – vs. West Ham (PL)
Dec. 6 – at Shakhtar Donetsk (UCL)
Dec. 9 – at Manchester United (PL)

Consider that United will be finishing an 8-day stretch which includes Dec. 2 at Arsenal, Dec. 5 vs. CSKA Moscow, and the derby. That makes Wednesday’s United trip to Benfica an even bigger affair. If both sides have already sewn up the knockout rounds, the derby will be especially better.

That’s neither to say City’s two-point lead atop the table and win at Chelsea weren’t impressive enough, nor that it couldn’t have overcome a slower start to both the PL and UCL campaigns. And City did start last season red-hot, too.

But it’s already foolhardy to bet against Pep’s men given the path ahead. Given Real Madrid’s relative struggles, and Barcelona’s uncertain status, it feels like City has as good a claim to UCL favorite status as anyone outside of Paris Saint-Germain.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

Spurs’ Kane: Draw at Real “shows how far we’ve come”

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

After pressuring Raphael Varane into an own goal, Spurs striker Harry Kane saw Keylor Navas make an outstanding late stop to ensure a 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

“I thought I did everything right, I opened my body, I put the ball where I wanted to and he made a very good save,” Kane said.

[ RECAP: Real 1-1 Spurs ]

While the red-hot Kane sure would’ve liked to find the match-winner, he knows what Spurs just achieved in Spain against the back-to-back UEFA Champions League winners.

And that, he says, is pleasing. From the BBC:

“We are happy. Of course they are going to have chances but we played well and made it tough for them. A point at Bernabeu, you would take that every day of the week. It shows how far we have come as a team.”

Kane is right, this Spurs side looks far more self-assured than its predecessor. It shows the process of learning to compete in the UCL.

The return date at Wembley Stadium is Nov. 1, where a point would all but seal Spurs’ spot in the knockout rounds thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s stunning 1-1 draw at APOEL Nicosia.

Real Madrid 1-1 Spurs: Lovely Lloris!

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

An error from each time in its own box and outstanding goalkeeping gave Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid a 1-1 draw in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday at the Bernabeu. (video)

Raphael Varane recorded a 28th minute own goal, but Serge Aurier gave away a penalty as Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for Real Madrid at home in the 43rd minute.

Hugo Lloris and Keylor Navas were the stars of the show, with Lloris making the lion’s share of saves.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Both teams are well-positioned to advance, with seven points. Spurs have the tiebreaker advantage, but both Tottenham and Real are six points clear of Borussia Dortmund and APOEL Nicosia after a surprising draw in Cyprus.

Early nerves were apparent for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men, but Tottenham grew into the game and took an early lead.

Concerned with the presence of Harry Kane, Real defender Raphael Varane saw a cross move off his pegs and behind Keylor Navas to put Spurs ahead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The lead was short-lived, however, as Spurs back Serge Aurier cut short Toni Kroos’ rare foray into the 18, and Ronaldo buried the ensuing penalty kick.

Lloris made an outstanding save on a point-blank Karim Benzema header in the 54th minute.

A moment later, offside Ronaldo flashed a sitter over the goal before the whistle alerted viewers to his offense.

Ronaldo had another chance stymied by Lloris as Real really began to pile on pressure past the hour mark.

Kane had a 71st minute chance against the run of play off a gorgeous pass from Fernando Llorente, but Navas got low quickly to redirect Kane’s point-blank shot wide of the far post.

Navas made another save when Llorente cued up Christian Eriksen for a chance, and the Dane then sent in a corner that led to a Davinson Sanchez’s header wide of goal.

Llorente was quite good in the second half in this surprise two-striker move from Mauricio Pochettino, and the Spurs boss also deployed Danny Rose for a season debut off the bench.

Man City 2-1 Napoli: Early goals stand up

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored early, and Ederson stopped one of two penalty kicks as Manchester City held off Napoli 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

Amadou Diawara converted Napoli’s second PK after Dries Mertens saw his effort saved.

Napoli is six points back of Group F leading City, and three behind Shakhtar Donetsk.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Raheem Sterling was near the spot to blast an open rebound past Pepe Reina in the ninth minute.

Then Kevin De Bruyne swept an incisive pass into the six for Gabriel Jesus to slot home, giving Man City a 2-0 lead in the 13th minute.

Kyle Walker saw yellow after giving a penalty kick in the 37th minute, and Napoli star Dries Mertens had his chance to pull one back denied by Ederson.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

John Stones‘ impressive growth at City continued when he slid to stop Marek Hamsik from testing Ederson in the second half.

Fernando took down Faouzi Ghoulam to give Napoli a second penalty kick, and this time it was converted thanks not to Mertens, but Diawara.