Until you win the three pints. The old standby cliché, rather have the points on the board than games in hand. Well Spurs have the former now rather than the latter.
Now how would this game have panned out if it had been the first of the season and not postponed until now? Everton start the season slowly it seems for Moyes’ reign and then get stronger. But without this fixture to kick things off Spurs started slowly with two losses.
Everton had come with a fairly attacking side, due to it being the only players at Moyes disposal, so while staying solid at the back it wasn’t an all out park the bus job we’ve seen from visitors to the The Lane in recent games. It was Spurs who started slowly last night. First few minutes and Saha has a golden opportunity after a bit of a defensive mixup with the returning Dawson and Kaboul. It seemed to knock Spurs out of their lethargy of late and from then on the first half they pretty much bossed things but not in a totally threatening way. A number of chances, number off attempts, number of dangerous situations with Howard having to really do anything in the Everton goal.
Adebayor was a helping factor for Everton as he had a pretty damn useless game. Unusually not offside most of the night but did a pretty good impersonation of a newly born giraffe on ice when trying to control the ball. I don’t think he had the ball under control at any pint during his 86 minutes on the pitch. Bale at times was to narrow, wanting to keep away from Phil Neville after last season’s game.
So without testing Howard there was still so much going forward by Spurs that the goal was coming, but then we’ve all felt that before and been disappointed. Not this time. A glorious cross field ball from Assou-Ekotto found Lennon on the right, as he cut in the bounce went with him and a left foot scuffer found the bottom of the net. Much like most of his major impacts – gaols and assists – in games before the injury it came after he’d been pretty anonymous, in fact he’d only touched the ball 10 times in the previous half an hour.
By then of course there was the usual refereeing inconsistencies, as Modric was taken down in the Everton area by Cahill only for the ref Atkinson to wave play on. Yet moments later, pretty much the same tackle on the same player in the Spurs half brought him a free kick. Modric was finding his feet again, after a few subdued games and the constant hacking by certain players in blue. Neville really is a scummy little git. Maybe Modric was feeling happier about his partner in the middle, Livermore. I’ve noticed and remarked on a number of occasions a reluctance by the little Croat to pass to Parker. Possibly because he doesn’t want the ball straight back, or for it to go backwards or be lost through a pirouette. Anyway he didn’t show any reluctance with Livermore.
Again I’d maybe have gone with Bassong alongside Dawson at the back and move Kaboul into the holding role. A couple of bursts up the park by the big defender showed he could do the role. But it would have been a mistake by me as Livermore had an amazing game. Bar far his best for the club, with an amazing 76 out of 77, 99%, passing success. And unlike Parker, who would have many creaming themselves over such numbers, his first intention was to go forward. He had a swagger last night that made him finally look like a valuable squad member.
It was a man-of-the-match performance from the youngster, even with some of the sublime passing and work rate of the, nearly, ever impressive van der Vaart. But with one moment in the first half and then one in the second both were kind of overshadowed by one individual.
I knew keeping Benny on my fantasy team bench would reap rewards for the club, if not for my prospects. And so it was with another clean sheet to go with his assists for the first goal and then moment of madness, Bennyism, inspiration, just after the hour when half way in the Everton half he decided there was bugger all else on, might as well have a swinger. OK so it took a slight defection which just added some spin to curl it round Howard but this was all Benny. As was the celebration. Two goals now for Benny, both screamers from outside the box, both against scouse sides and both important. His first against the red side got us on the way to the top four spot that season, this time it may not have been technically the winner but it sealed the deal on the three points.
It could have course turned out differently with Everton having shouts for penalties later on that with the refs we have now could have been given – you just don’t know what they’re going to do.
But game seen out, even with Pienaar and Pavlyuchenko brought on – shop window anyone? – another win, three more points, joint second, third only on goal difference, Citeh hitting the buffers, ManUre not right…