Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Thoughts

Chris Brunskill

A poor game, some poor performances, and some terrible refereeing.

1. It was a pretty dire game, wasn't it?

Like most Everton fans, I was very much looking forward to the Toffees' clash with high-flying Spurs at the weekend. With two teams in great form, each with the chance to go second in the table, going head to head, the stage was set for an enthralling encounter, right? Wrong.

Both Tottenham and Everton struggled to settle into a consistent rhythm throughout the game, and despite the away side dominating the first period, Tim Howard was rarely called into action, his goal never seriously threatened. Likewise, the Blues grew into the game after the break, but failed to truly test Hugo Lloris (although the French goalkeeper did find himself on the wrong end of Romelu Lukaku's knee).

2. Kevin Friend had a bad day at the office.

It's safe to say that referee Kevin Friend didn't endear himself to the Goodison Park faithful in Sunday's goalless draw. His inconsistent decision-making in particular was a persistent source of frustration, with Tim Howard and Kevin Mirallas both booked for dissent whilst other incidents - notably Sandro's first half attempt to square up to the official - went unpunished.

The more significant errors made by Friend however, were his two incorrect penalty calls. Both Jan Vertonghen and Seamus Coleman were brought down in the opposition's penalty area, but in both cases the referee refused to award a spot kick. As the well-worn cliché says, these things do tend to even out, but two refereeing wrongs also don't make a right.

3. Coleman needs to calm down in the box.

On the subject of penalties, Seamus Coleman can count himself lucky that he didn't concede his third of the season against Spurs. Already in the games against Manchester City and Aston Villa, the Irishman had been caught the wrong side of Pablo Zabaleta and Christian Benteke respectively, and on this occasion his slip allowed Jan Vertonghen to steal into the Toffees' box.

There's no denying that the Belgian went down softly under pressure from Coleman, but the right back's clumsy challenge warranted a penalty regardless. Errors such as this were more commonplace for Seamus this time last year, but after making such excellent progress in the latter half of last season, he needs to work to ensure that they don't become habitual once again.

4. Lukaku's knock had better not be serious.

Romelu Lukaku had probably his weakest game in an Everton shirt at the weekend, but the prospect of losing the powerful centre forward to injury remains a serious one. The Belgian was substituted following his collision with Lloris, who suffered a nasty head injury, and was later seen icing his knee on the Everton bench.

With Arouna Kone and Nikica Jelavic far from reliable backups - and the former also currently injured - Evertonians will have to hope that their loan star isn't sidelined for too long, lest the team lose its primary attacking focal point ahead of a crucial run of fixtures.

5. Mirallas continues to falter, but Deulofeu shows promise.

While Everton have so far prospered under Roberto Martinez, Kevin Mirallas has yet to hit the same heights that he reached during his first season at Goodison Park. The winger gave a fairly abject performance against Spurs, sadly not his first of this campaign, and the contrast from earlier this year was deepened all the more by memories of his superb solo goal against the North London side at White Hart Lane.

On the bright side, Mirallas' replacement, Gerard Deulofeu, looked lively when he came on, and produced one of the Blues' few openings in the second half when he flitted through a crowd of opposition defenders, only to be denied by Lloris. If the Barcelona starlet gets more minutes in the weeks to come, Everton may well begin to reap the benefits of his prodigious talent.

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