Everton will come back from North London ruing the first half defensive lapses that saw them lose 2-1 away at Tottenham Hotspur, but will also feel that some poor refereeing decisions have denied them at least a point.
The Blues went behind early on with Richarlison and then Son Heung Min taking advantage of some static defending, but the visitors came back strong as the half went on, and certainly deserved to have a goal back before the break.
From a inswinging corner that was taken by Dwight McNeil, Amadou Onana moved towards the ball only to have his shirt nearly tugged off his back by Dejan Kulusevski. Referee Stuart Attwell saw nothing untoward, and VAR also decided against informing him that there was a possible infraction.
After the game, Sean Dyche indicated that he had spoken to the match officials, and that Attwell had observed that both players were pulling each other’s shirts.
It didn’t end there either. Everton knew they would need not only the next goal but they would need it early in the second half to kickstart a comeback. They thought they had it just five minutes into the second stanza when Spurs got in trouble playing out the back again.
The Blues had fashioned a number of chances from their high press getting Tottenham to turn the ball over, but this time they made it count. Substitute Andre Gomes snapped into a challenge on Emerson Royal as he received the ball, the Spurs player went over dramatically as the ball spun free and Gomes pounced, feeding Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the right channel to slot home at the far post, 2-1 to the Blues, or so we thought.
The referee had seen nothing untoward in Gomes’ tackle, and neither had the assistant referee on the near touchline. However, as VAR reviewed the action, Michael Oliver indicated to Attwell that he should look at it again and the referee then changed his mind to disallow the goal.
VAR is supposed to intervene when there is a clear and definitive error made on the pitch. Both Attwell and his assistant were perfectly fine with letting play go on at first, but as soon as DCL scored that became an issue?
Dyche was livid. Speaking after the game, he did not mince his words about Emerson’s theatrics.
“That’s not enough contact for me to make a mature professional footballer go on the floor. That’s where the game has to be really careful.”
The Blues did not give up though, and to their credit kept pressing before they pulled one back and if it were not for Vicario’s knee keeping the ball from fully crossing over the line after bouncing down from the underside of the crossbar in time added on, they would have certainly had a shout to win this game.
But, once again, Everton find themselves at the mercy of the Premier League making things up as we go along.