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Tottenham Keeps Pace in Race to Europe

Andre Villas-Boas claims Tottenham is not a one-man team. As Arsenal is marching on in the race for top four, playing against Everton was not the perfect moment to prove himself right. The team did not let him down though and salvaged a 2-2 draw via Sigurdsson’s late equaliser, despite leading early in the match. The spiritual team effort kept them at third, marginally ahead of their North London rival.

Living without Bale is something the Yids could not imagine. It was a worrying formation for Spurs as they had to play without their biggest assets — wingers Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, but Emmanuel Adebayor and Jan Vertonghen alleviated the concerns with barely a minute into the match. Player of the month Vertonghen delivered a cunning cross that caught John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin. Adebayor, unmarked at the far post, seemed to have re-discovered his scoring boots and tapped in the opening goal past Tim Howard.

A surprise to the home crowd, yet an unpleasant one for David Moyes. A goal created from the flank in a winger-less formation only demonstrated the lack of concentration in the Toffees’ defence. Moyes could count himself a bit lucky, as Tottenham did not quite have the quality this afternoon to pile on further after the early goal.

Michael Dawson’s poor pass at the back had already triggered the alarm. Leon Osman could not make Dawson pay for the mistake, but Phil Jagielka made it count 3 minutes later. Hugo Lloris was two-minded on Leighton Baines’ corner. Jagielka towered above Vertonghen and headed the ball between Lloris’ legs. Tottenham’s lead only briefly lasted for a quarter of an hour.

A very hardworking bunch but lacking the flair and creativity, long shots were the best Tottenham could manage against the solid Everton. The away side held on until Moyes made a decisive change after the interval. Niko Jelavic joined Victor Anichebe up front and the ambitious move exposed the space at Tottenham’s defence. While fullbacks were urged to press on, centre backs were stretched by the striker pair. The determined Kevin Mirallas raced down the right and beat several defenders before firing a fantastic shot past Lloris. Despite trailing early, Everton fought all the way back in the battle for top 4.

Kyle Walker, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey all tested Tim Howard with shots outside the box, but it was Moussa Dembele who had the best chance. Tim Howard saw the Belgian’s right foot shot late and squandered the shot which then somehow hit the post. With Arsenal on their shoulders, this was the best chance Tottenham could have created.

When Andre Villas-Boas finally decided to change, it proved to be an impactful one. Tom Huddlestone, returning from a lengthy layoff from a knee injury, came in to orchestrate the midfield. The crowd did not welcome AVB’s decision to take off Dembele, but Huddlestone’s presence allowed the influential Scott Parker to field more daring runs to support the fullbacks. His range of passing also made Tottenham’s attack more dynamic.

David Moyes got a goal after his substitution. AVB finally got one back as well after his tactical change. Adebayor calmly controlled Walker’s cross in the box and curled past Tim Howard, only to be denied by the post kept. The ball bounced off into Sigurdsson’s path and the Icelandic midfielder once again scored an important equaliser for Tottenham with three minutes to go.

There was hope this was going to be another comeback victory with four minutes of added time. Tottenham, though, required Lloris to make sure the one point was safe. Anichebe and Jelavic were both granted space in injury time but Lloris made no mistakes. The dramatic 2-2 draw put Tottenham two points ahead of Arsenal, who has a game in hand, but saw Everton’s Champions League dream faded away further. Everton will soon be boosted by Fellaini’s return from suspension, but Gareth Bale’s recovery is still in the mist. Tottenham still have a steep mountain to climb to clinch the Champions League spot.

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