Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
As 0-0 draws go, this stalemate between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur had its fair share of talking points.
The first is how on earth two sides laden with attacking talent failed to register a goal in 90 minutes.
Not that there weren’t chances. Tim Howard was kept busy keeping Sandro, Kyle Walker and Gylfi Sigurdsson at bay, while Leon Osman and Romelu Lukaku squandered half decent chances at the other end.
A second would be whether the Blues deserved a second half penalty when Seamus Coleman tangled with Jan Vertonghen as he shaped to shoot.
And finally, just what is Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris’s skull made of? The Frenchman took the force of Lukaku at full tilt to the head but, with everyone inside Goodison expecting him to be substituted, he added nine minutes of extra time trying to make his mind up whether he was ok.
But as the dust settled, both sides had to accept a result that stopped the other claiming second place in the Premier League table.
Roberto Martinez made the one change to the side that overcame Aston Villa in the Blues’ last fixture. In came Osman – who’s introduction turned the game in Everton’s favour with an assist and a goal in the 2-0 win – at the expense of Ross Barkley who dropped the bench.
Despite enjoying the initial possession, it was Howard called into action first, as Sandro took aim from range and drew a sprawling save form the American. Roberto Soldado then nodded wide a decent chance following a teasing Aaron Lennon cross.
Tottenham’s momentum grew and James McCarthy threw himself in the way of an Andros Townsend piledriver as the Londoners kept possession well in the early going.
McCarthy was then adjudged to have brought down Jan Vertonghen and from the resultant free-kick, Kyle Walker had his goalbound effort fisted away by Howard.
Gradually Everton began to retain the ball a little better than they had been and Osman fizzed a long range drive narrowly over the bar. However, the Blues were far from their fluent best in the first period.
After the break Everton were presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring. Lukaku turned expertly to glide away from Sandro and suddenly the Blues were three against two. Picking Mirallas to his right, the winger was denied a shooting opportunity by a strong last ditch tackle from Vlad Chiriches.
It was enough to ignite the crowd, who helped visibly lift the hosts, and Spurs responded by replacing Sandro with Moussa Dembele.
But Everton were growing into the game and made a couple of changes of their own, with youngsters Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu coming on for Osman and Mirallas.
Within seconds of coming on, the former had already rifled a range-finder over the bar.
Then a contentious moment. Coleman did well to create a shooting chance inside the box but just he went to do just that, his leg was stopped from doing so by Vertonghen. With most of the ground screaming penalty, referee Kevin Friend waved it away.
But nothing excites a crowd like apparent injustice and the volume inside Goodison was steadily rising. A corner gained from McCarthy’s deflected volley drew a fervent roar of encouragement.
The Republic of Ireland international then crossed for Lukaku to frustratingly head across goal as Everton tried to capitalise on their momentum.
Tottenham were still very much in the game however – sub Gylfi Sigurdsson stung the palms of Howard with an effort from distance.
The game was bizarrely interrupted when Lukaku caught Hugo Lloris chasing after a through ball from Gareth Barry. Clearly hurt, the Frenchman looked all set to be replaced by Brad Friedel but as he was helped off the pitch, Lloris decided he was ok and remained on the field.
Lukaku also took a knock in the collision and was subsequently replaced by Nikica Jelavic.
With nine minutes time added on, there was time for Vertonghen to blast wide and Townsend to fire straight at Howard, as Spurs pushed for a winner. But neither side could muster one and it ended in stalemate.