Cenk Tosun’s late equaliser secured a 1-1 draw for Everton against Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon, but what matters more than anything right now is André Gomes’ welfare after a tackle on him from Son Heung-min saw him stretchered off and taken straight to hospital.
Let’s address this first of all - it’s a terrible tackle. And you can see that he didn’t mean to cause as much damage to Gomes as he did while also seeing that it’s still a horrific challenge. From behind, Son came in and wiped Gomes clean out, and though he was left in tears afterwards, he was rightly sent off.
Son is a wonderful player with no real track record of similar misdemeanours previously, but this baseless ‘he’s not that type of player’ rhetoric trotted out time and again in these instances only detracts sympathy from where it should be - in this case, Gomes, another fabulous footballer who has almost certainly lost at least a year of his career now. Our thoughts and best wishes are with him at this time.
Aside from that, Everton didn’t play particularly well, to be honest. Especially in the first half, the Blues were guilty of showing Tottenham, a team in poor form and who have not won a Premier League away game since January, far too much respect and struggled to fashion clear-cut chances until the match began to near its conclusion.
A sloppy giveaway from Alex Iwobi gifted the ball to Son, who played in Dele Alli, who finished smartly to give Spurs, who were hardly much better, the lead just after the hour mark.
But Everton huffed and puffed thereafter and, in the eighth of 12 additional minutes, substitute Tosun met Lucas Digne’s gem of a volleyed cross and powered home a header past the helpless Paulo Gazzaniga.
There were positives, for sure - Mason Holgate and Yerry Mina worked well in tandem in central defence, Tom Davies was Everton’s stand-out midfielder, and the Blues showed what they’re capable of when they laid siege on the Spurs goal in the final minutes.
But this all feels rather like an afterthought, in all honesty; not just because of the awful fate Gomes suffered, but because of referee Martin Atkinson’s failure to get a grip on proceedings, and of the atmosphere-sapping element that is VAR.
First, there was a potential Spurs penalty early in the second half for a foul on Son by Mina. About three minutes and two checks later, it was not given. Then, Richarlison, who admittedly spent far too much time playing cheap fouls today, had a decent shout for a spot-kick of his own, only for it not to even be reviewed.
There was also a possible Everton penalty for an Alli handball which, though would have perhaps been harsh, makes you wonder how that could not have been awarded, considering already this season we have seen a goal each for both Manchester City and Liverpool overturned due to similarly accidental handling.
VAR itself is not the issue; it’s this patent lack of consistency which is plaguing it, and as a spectator inside the ground, drains your enjoyment of the match taking place in front of you. Even Spurs fans, when the technology ruled in their favour, were singing chants in opposition to it, which should tell you a great deal about just how farcical it is proving in the Premier League.
It all conspires to leave you feeling pure anger; more so, perhaps, than after most Everton defeats. Whatever mental hurdles Marco Silva and his players will face after this draining 104 minutes of football, they will need to do so before a pivotal match at Southampton, where the Blues have an abysmal record next Saturday. Lose that, and only goal difference will separate them from the relegation zone with a grim December fixture list nearing ever closer.
But we’ll finish where we start, and that is with Gomes, who we all wish a speedy recovery for. In his 15 months at Everton, the Portuguese midfielder has captured the adulation of supporters more than most of his colleagues have managed to, and aside from his fantastic ability, it is particularly saddening to see a player with as big a heart as him suffer so badly.
All the best, André.