It continues to be an scintillating season to be a supporter of Everton. Every game seems to be within inches of both victory and defeat. Today it was more of the same; a tale of two halves at Goodison Park in which visiting Tottenham pushed the hosts to their limit in order to secure a point for both sides in a 1-1 draw.
The first half could not have been more one-sided. The Toffees lacked anything that resembled an attack. Romelu Lukaku only touched the ball a handful of times as Spurs held 64 percent of possession in the opening 45 minutes and peppered 13 shots at Tim Howard in the Everton goal, but only two were on target. However, a Harry Kane strike hit the left post and a Ben Davies hit went off the crossbar.
Winger Aaron Lennon provided the only shining moment early on against his former club. It started with a Tom Cleverley long ball into Lukaku near the Tottenham goal. The big Belgian headed the ball back to Lennon as he entered the 18-yard box. On a half-volley, Lennon struck the ball and, while it didn't have much pace, it was perfectly placed beyond a diving Hugo Lloris and into the left side netting to give Everton a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
However, the goal did little to inspire the Blues to gain more possession or control of the game. Tottenham and their impressive midfield continued to push forward and keep complete control of the match.
It seemed the hosts would sneak into the locker room with a one goal lead the half, but Dele Alli had different ideas. The young England international had been phenomenal up to this point and put an exclamation point on his performance when he roasted Seamus Coleman and brought down a long ball in the box easily and put it past Howard in goal to tied things up 1-1.
The second half was a completely different story for Everton. As opposed to the flat, lethargic side that we have become accustomed to after the break, they came out with a fire in their stomachs. All of the sudden, they were beating Spurs players to just about every ball. Was this a result of tired legs on the part of Tottenham or just that much more effort by the Toffees?
While Everton were doing much better in the half, those improvements were magnified with the substitutions of Gerard Deulofeu and Muhamed Besic coming on for Lennon and Arouna Kone.
Deulofeu added the necessary attacking spark and Besic brought in an edge and attitude that the side sorely lacks at times. Both players created chances that nearly led to three points.
Besic struck a volley perfectly but Lloris was up for the challenge and deflected it over the bar. Deulofeu continued to do what he does so well: scorch up and down the right wing, creating chances for Lukaku in the box.
On the defensive side, it's tough to complain too terribly much. The young partnership of John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori shows its inexperience at times, but the Tottenham attack may be the deepest and most dangerous in the league. The boys weathered the storm for the most part, only being undone by a ball over the top.
As far as Roberto Martinez is concerned, I thought he did a nice job today. I admit that I was skeptical about the starting lineup. Kone is beginning to show why he should not be a starter. And the decision to bring Lennon off was questionable in my mind. However, while Kone continued to be poor, bringing on Besic and Deulofeu in the way he did allowed them to expose what looked like a tired Tottenham defense. Everton was the better team for the last half hour of the game and the energy to start the second half was inspiring.
On the hole, this was a nice change of pace for the Blues. The second half needs to become the norm against both teams of high quality, like Spurs, as well as the cellar dwellers. No more playing down to the opponent.