Disappointment with a draw at Everton shows how far Spurs have come

The north London club were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Goodison Park on Sunday, but were eager to win all three points.

Everton have been something of a bogey team for Tottenham, with trips to Merseyside of late ending in disappointment for the White Hart Lane side more often than not.

With Roberto Martinez’s men also pushing for a place in the top echelons of English football at the moment, yesterday’s visit to Goodison Park promised to be a tough test for Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

However, after a 0-0 draw, the north London visitors came off the pitch with a slight feeling of dejection, as the opportunity to leapfrog Chelsea and Liverpool into second place was lost.

Everton have been tricky opponents for a number of years for all-comers, and their late quick-fire double in the dying moments of last season’s clash with Spurs at Goodison eventually cost the London side Champions League football.

With the clever summer additions of the likes of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku, the Merseysiders have already beaten Chelsea on home soil this term and are a real contender for the top four.

In days gone by, given Everton’s potency and recent defeats against them, escaping Goodison with a draw would have been a result that Tottenham managers would have happily taken before kick-off.

However, this time round, Villas-Boas spoke of regret that his side did not make their dominance pay, and of disappointment in the players that they did not return home with all three points.

In truth, a draw was probably a fair result, despite Spurs’ dominance in the first 45 minutes. Everton had chances to get the winner themselves, with their case for a penalty stronger than that of their opponents.

Despite disappointment at not getting three points, Spurs should look to the positives from the encounter. The first half in particular was a promising show of dominance, with the visitors outplaying a very able Everton side with top players in their midfield. Had Roberto Soldado and company been more clinical, Spurs would have taken the win.

The Tottenham defence’s handling of in-form striker Romelu Lukaku was another boost, as the Chelsea loanee had an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon. Both Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches took a no-nonsense approach in dealing with the powerful attacker, and keeping a clean sheet away to a Toffees team full of attacking intent is something most teams will fail to do.

Jan Vertonghen’s repeated selection at left-back has been perceived as a negative in some corners, as the Belgian is seemingly more effective at centre-half. However, the former Ajax man got forward well to add another attacking string to the Tottenham bow.

Despite the failure to move into second place, Spurs should be happy with their showing at Goodison and with how the new season has started for them. Arguably the best half of football they have played so far this season shows continued progression, and Tottenham’s ambitions to be a power in the English game are becoming realistic as they continue to improve.

image: © rolando.m

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