A month ago I thought the next time we’d be above Spurs would be at 3pm on the opening day of next season courtesy of ‘A’ coming before ‘T’. That we’ve reeled them in within a matter of weeks is nothing short of astonishing and makes what is an excellent victory at Everton all the more sweeter.
To pick up three points at Goodison Park is always a great result, especially considering they’ve already beaten Spurs, Man City and Chelsea there this season. David Moyes’ side are difficult to play, getting in their opponents’ faces and battling as if their lives depended on it. But for the first 15 minutes they couldn’t get near us as, brimming with confidence, we played some scintillating attacking football that should’ve put the game to bed.
Aaron Ramsey had the first chance, latching onto van Persie’s clever cushioned header only to blaze over from 10 yards out. His inclusion at the expense of Oxlade-Chamberlain was a surprise and I can’t help thinking the Ox would’ve buried it.
A few minutes later Sagna found Walcott in space and his scuffed pass found Ramsey running onto the ball. The Welshman’s shot deflected away for a corner, from which van Persie swung in a great cross for Vermaelen to nod us into a deserved lead.
It wasn’t long until we carved open the blue line once again. This time Arteta — given a terrific reception by the home fans — flicked a neat pass onto van Persie but his drive was anticipated well by Tim Howard.
Finally, Everton found a foothold in the match and began to mount some attacks of their own. Vermaelen and Koscielny had to be at their best to break up a few good moves as our attacks grew rarer by the minute. The early promise had faded and the tough game we were all expecting had arrived.
Two winning goals in successive games from TV
It should’ve got much tougher when Song gave away the ball cheaply and the Toffes worked it to Royston Drenthe, who slotted past Szczesny. But thankfully the linesman’s flag was erroneously up and our lead remained intact.
As the half drew to a close Rosicky hit a good half-volley which Howard pushed away and the Czech — who had a good game yet again — was involved in the other controversial moment of the match soon after the break.
He turned neatly in the area and Drenthe clumsily brought him down, but amazingly the ref waved play on. Even more amazingly, it didn’t even warrant a showing on Match of the Day, who instead preferred to bleat on about the offside goal and lament the fact Spurs might miss out on Champions League qualification. Yes, we got away with one there but so did Drenthe and the fact the BBC didn’t even make reference to it was pitiful — it was a stonewall penalty.
What was also pitiful was Jelavic’s constant diving. He made Gareth Bale look like an altar boy, falling to the ground at the slightest touch and trying to get Vermaelen sent off by running across him before collapsing theatrically. Tosser.
The rest of the half was pretty even with Everton applying plenty of pressure but finding it impossible to break down our (surprisingly) well-drilled defence. I can only remember Szczesny making one save and even then the whistle had already blown for offside.
In contrast our attacks carried far more bite. They were few and far between as we failed to hit the heights of those first fifteen minutes, but van Persie blazed over after a good header by Gibbs before hitting the post. Late on Howard made another good stop from Ramsey as we tried in vain to find the killer second. It didn’t arrive, but we held on for the win and the reactions of the delighted players showed how much it meant to them — good to see lads.
So with Chelsea losing and Spurs being held at home, that 12 point lead dodgy Harry’s mob had over us has turned into a one point deficit for our free-falling neighbours. The gap they were so happily crowing about only a few weeks ago is no more.
With Spurs having to visit Chelsea on Saturday, a win against Villa for us would be a decisive step towards Champions League qualification. We mustn’t relax and take things for granted though — we need to show the same work rate and desire that saw off Everton because things can change very quickly in this league.
Just ask a Tottenham fan.
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