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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Spurs (H)

By Ken Buckley :  06/01/2011 :  Comments (17) :

Blues earn their spurs at a rocking Goodison Park.

The team came through via text and excitement mounted as it appeared to be 4-4-2 and the thought of ?going for it? put a spring in the step of those walking up to the ground.  Goodison Road a-buzz with optimism and a long queue at the Blue Dragon chippy suggested a big crowd.

Z-Cars rang out and the team received a tumultuous reception and what followed was to be the game of the season so far.

Talk about starting brightly, within three minutes Saha had rocketed home his first goal in 11 months with his wrong foot after receiving a pass from Baines.  The faithful roared, many with disbelief, but we were really 1-0 up.

Spurs were stunned and responded with a few minutes of pressure, Van der Vaart tried a spectacular strike but missed, Crouch got above Heitinga and headed wide. Heitinga looked ring rusty and was finding it hard to adjust to the game but, as the game progressed, so did he.

Neville got in a good cross and Hutton clearly pushed Beckford to the ground in the box but the ref. Mr Probert would have none of it.  Then, on the 10-min mark, a deep cross came in and Crouch seemed to foul as he climbed and headed into the path of Van der Vaart and he headed powerfully past Howard. 

The rest of the half flew by at a hectic pace as Spurs played an open game that the Blues matched and it made for a very good watch.  Neville was showing Bale who was boss and Coleman, as raw as you like, was causing havoc down the right.  In one sortie, he set up Saha who in turn set up Beckford but his effort was deflected over the bar when he should have done better.  Beckford wasted another chance when Neville got in a superb cross but the ex-Leeds man rose too early and headed the ball as he was descending and it went high and wide.

The game was fast, furious and open and in keeping with such a game mistakes were made, good joined-up stuff interrupted with lofted balls forward but only one major mistake was perpetrated and that was by Saha in his drop-off mid-field role when he gave the ball to Bale who ran forward and fed Crouch who netted but had gone to early and was flagged offside, much to the relief of Saha and all assembled.

Half-time came and went with no change of personnel

The second half started with the Blues on the front foot, a position they were to keep until the death.  Just five minutes in and Coleman sped in from the right and took the ball into the six-yard box, looked Gomes in the eyes and seemed transfixed and unable to make his mind up and the end result was no more than a back-pass to the keeper when so much more should have been achieved.

Bale then got injured with no-one near him and limped off without treatment to be replaced by Kranjcar.  He left the field at a very slow pace as the Spurs fans chanted "Bale-Bale-Bale" and a good number of Blues chanted "Snail-Snail-Snail".  Spurs were now relying on the break and from one of these, Howard made a good stop from the fading Van der Vaart.  The Dutchman seems to me to be a player who is dynamite when things are going well but gets a sulk on when they are not.

The Blues were well on top now and you could just see a goal coming, something I have not had the pleasure of noting for some time.  Come it did with fifteen left as Saha jinked, twisted, turned and then fired in a hotshot that the keeper got to but put the ball in the air from his parry and the ever darting Coleman was rushing in and he stooped and conquered.  The roof came off and a fantastic rendition of Everton-Everton rang out for some time.

The manager then made some subs:  Yak just minutes after our goal for Beckford and, with just some 6 or 7 to go, Osman for the limping Pienaar, and then Rodwell for Saha, who got a great reception as he left the field.  If he could play regularly like he played tonight, he would still be at Old Trafford.

The Blues played out the time including 4 added mins without mishap at our end and the main point of note was the Yak being fed but certainly not scoring as he played out what looked like a comedy routine in slow motion before no more than poking the ball tamely to the keeper. The Yak of old would have netted with ease. Final whistle and all celebrated as Grand Old Team was bellowed out.

MotM for me was a tossup between Coleman, Fellaini and Distin but feel free to choose anyone you like.

Overall, I found it a great game to watch between two teams who went for it, both believing it was there to be won.  The time went by in a flash which is always the sign of a cracker.  We benefitted by Spurs making it an open game as we did not have the problem of working out how to get past a parked bus, which I think in turn explains perhaps why we do better against the top teams than the ones around us at the moment.

Can this game be a catalyst for an upturn in fortunes?  Maybe... especially if the players help the manager by putting in a committed 90-odd minutes as they did tonight.  Also the manager working out the best team and strategy when facing teams who will certainly set out to frustrate and indeed park the bus. 

There is plenty of football yet to be played this season so a good second half to the season should not be beyond us ? whether or not we do any business in this awkward January transfer window.  With the club unable to help in a meaningful way to recruit the quality of player that can really help, it is up to the manager to go with what he has got and sort out the line-ups and tactics and the players to step up to the plate in consistent fashion and then who knows.

Scunthorpe should be a good test of how we mean to go on as we should after tonight?s performance despatch them in a professional manner.

See you there
UP THE BLUES
 

Reader Comments

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Joey Brown
1   Posted 06/01/2011 at 06:01:50

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Arteta tried a few through balls tonight as did Pienaar... I'm hoping they start to realize this is the way to unlock stubborn defenses as well as more open ones like Spurs
Andy McNabb
2   Posted 06/01/2011 at 08:09:50

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Great report again. You hit the nail on the head when you said we play better against the more talented sides who actually allow us to play. I am much more optimistic this year about us playing the 'top' teams.

Up until now we have stuggled (and will continue to struggle unless something changes) against the bus parkers. To that end, Scunthorpe may provide an interesting challenge.

Keith Knowles
3   Posted 06/01/2011 at 11:08:02

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Great game and it was good to see the boys continue to go for a 3rd-goal rather than sit back after the 2nd and defend a lead. Fellaini just edged MOTM for me although Distin was also superb, especially given that Heitinga either lacked match play or could not be arsed. Arteta still looks like he is carrying a bit too much weight and I would hope Kenwright caves in and gives Pienaar wage parity with Arteta.

Neville once again kept Bale quiet and gradually forced him off with some robust but fair tackling, solid professional play!
Denis Richardson
4   Posted 06/01/2011 at 11:31:40

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Nice report for a great performance and result. Only hope now is that Davey boy can see how much potential the team has if he actually allows them to play positively.

Hope he sticks with the same formation and players against Scunthorpe to allow them to start getting used to it ? and enjoy playing.

As well as use the opportunity to try some of the younger players off the bench (assuming we are winning).

Great chance for Beckford to get some goals and do his confidence some good.

On another note ? either USE Billy or sell him to get some cash to bring someone else in. An utter waste just keeping him on the bench all the time.
Duncan McDine
5   Posted 06/01/2011 at 12:05:49

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Excellent write up as usual Ken, many thanks for your efforts.

Let's hope the lads can retain that winning mentality, and put together a string of results in the cup.
Chandra Kumar
6   Posted 06/01/2011 at 12:42:05

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Great game, great result. But it could so easily have been another one of those games where we dominate but draw or lose. It really came close: if Howard hadn't saved that close effort from I believe Van der Vaart it could have been another bitter ending.

Now that it's confirmed that Yakubu is no more interested, I hope Moyes moves quickly off-loads him and gets a replacement.

Ken, I only managed to catch a repeat telecast AFTER reading your report. Interesting experience. I noticed things I normally would never have. Regards.
Michael Coville
7   Posted 06/01/2011 at 14:00:35

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Interesting comments from a Spurs fan:
http://tottenhamonmymind.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/does-moyes-read-tottenham-on-my-mind/?
Tommy Byrne
8   Posted 06/01/2011 at 14:35:10

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As much as I like Tim Cahill, I thought the World Cup showed up his limitations. Lacks a bit of pace and a bit one-dimensional but, having said that, has a great knack of scoring goals.

But is 8-10 goals a season a fair return for a forward? So it will be interesting to see how we go while he is out of the team. The 442 has to be the way forward for the rest of the season.

If teams are going to park the bus then the tactic has to be to give them the ball and hit them with counter attacking with pace. Beckford and Colemen.

Howard Don
9   Posted 06/01/2011 at 15:02:56

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Joey (1) you're right. Whilst Arteta didn't have a great game, I thought there were signs especially later on where, whilst not hitting the heights, he was looking just a bit more like his old self.
Steve Higham
10   Posted 06/01/2011 at 15:39:36

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Great report and an excellent match. Moyes is to be congratulated for going 4-4-2 really enjoyed the game from begining to end .Was great to see a balanced Everton team and attacking on both flanks for a change.
It was a joy to see neat passing and joined up football we looked like a proper football team tonight.

The challenge now is to see if Moyes sticks with this 'new' game plan. Davey please don't go back to type.
Sam Hoare
11   Posted 06/01/2011 at 15:58:42

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Great game and hopefully evidence to Moyes that there is life beyond 451...though to be fair its the only formation that really accomodates Tim Cahill. Could his absence prove the late catalyst for our season?
Gerry Quinn
12   Posted 06/01/2011 at 17:37:45

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Nice one, Ken..........just read this part of an article about Jags being wanted by the Arse...............


The accomplished defender has a reputation as a ball playing centre back and would certainly suit Arsenal's passing game.

WTF? Where do these people sit when they supposedly watch Everton
Brian Denton
13   Posted 06/01/2011 at 17:50:35

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Michael (post #7) those comments by the Spurs fan were indeed interesting, and incredibly generous for an opposing fan. A nice antidote to the Sky approach.
Martin Mason
14   Posted 06/01/2011 at 18:32:37

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A great win which I didn't even see on TV as I was travelling back to work in Kazakhstan. A wonderful write up from the lad at Tottenham on my Mind too, isn't it good to see credit given in such an unbiased manner where it was obviously due.

It could have been a case of Everton plucking a good victory from an awful run of draws and defeats because of being forced into it because of the absence of Timmy and I think that this is where we need to learn. Timmy is a legend but I believe that Moyes's rigid 4-5-1 based around him is a negative straight jacket that could prevent us from ever reaching our true potential.

Let's enjoy this while we can though because it was a very good win and from what I have read we played very well indeed.
Ben Jones
15   Posted 06/01/2011 at 20:01:18

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Great report Ken, but this is me going to be a kill joy. It is a fact Spurs' defence isnt great and they have hardly kept a clean sheet. We need to see this work against the lesser teams at home to fully praise it.

Saying that though, we wonder what is the role of Tim Cahill? Yes, cynics will say "it's only been one game... bla bla" but Tim Cahill has been the basis for the team too long now. Beckford and Saha both played in their natural striking roles and it looked really good last night.

What has happened though is Moyes has played 4-4-2. And it worked. Interesting weeks ahead
Dermot Ryan
16   Posted 06/01/2011 at 19:57:53

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Couple of random comments:

1. The crowd sounded absolutely awesome. I watched it here in the States on ESPN 3 and you could hear every word of "Its a Grand Old Team." I can't tell you how many times, I've heard pundits comment on how great the atmosphere at Goodison is. I've heard fans on here complain about how people don't sing at Goodison, etc but on these big occasions, the atmosphere is absolutely electric and you can see how it galvanizes our players and freaks out the opposition. Check out Gomes in the second half. When the crowd is given something to shout for, the Goodison faithful truly is the 12th man.

2. On Spurs fans...Check out the match report on the Guardian and the comments from Evertonians and Spurs fans afterwards. Obviously, there are a few twats on both sides, but generally the Spurs fans who post are fair-minded, analytical, and generous. Like your average Evertonian in fact...A total contrast to the arrogant idiocy you get from all Chelsea, Manure, Arsenal, and particularly Man. City fans.
Gerry Western
17   Posted 07/01/2011 at 12:29:47

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Ben, I'm not so sure the formation was that different to what we've been playing most of the season with regard to our forward line.

What was different for me was the inclusion of Beckford from the off and the fact that he has terrific pace. Coleman in previous games has often not received the support of his team mates who have had an obsession with switching play to the left side of the park at every given opportunity. That coupled with the fact that Neville made more of an effort to get forward in support of Coleman meant that we were attacking them on both flanks.

This had a dramatic impact in that Coleman's runs were being tracted by Beckford and this was constantly putting Spurs on the backfoot. Something we've failed to do against the opposition for much of the season.

I think if one were to swap Cahill for Saha then our approach would not have been that different. Although I agree it will be interesting to see how we perform in our forthcoming games.

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