Prior to kick-off, the majority of Tottenham supporters would have considered a draw away from home against an in-form Everton side an excellent result. After 99 minutes of football, a draw was exactly what Andre-Villas Boas’ side got in a mostly forgettable affair that ended scoreless at Goodison Park.
However, this was a game in which Tottenham’s defensive credentials were severely scrutinised and were not left wanting. A masterclass from the consistently brilliant Jan Vertonghen was only overshadowed by the immense bravery and commitment of French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
After a dominant first half in which Spurs were utterly in control but could not score, Everton produced a much-improved second half display and constantly threatened to take all three points. Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez’s side, the Tottenham back four had other ideas.
Captain Michael Dawson was commanding throughout and marshalled his defenders with the kind of authority that has been so severely lacking in the international set up in recent years.
Perhaps Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson ought to consider this performance when selecting his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Chile. However, Dawson’s performance was nothing in comparison to the displays of Romanian Vlad Chiriches and Belgian Vertonghen.
The young Chiriches already looks a bargain at the £8.5million Spurs paid for his services this summer, exciting the fans with his boldness on the ball. A perfectly-timed slide tackle to dispossess Kevin Mirallas as he prepared to shoot was met with rapturous applause from the travelling support.
This was also a game in which Vertonghen further underlined his credentials as one of the best defenders in the league with an imposing and exciting display both defensively and offensively as Spurs recorded their seventh league clean sheet of the season. It was Vertonghen who was awarded the Man of the Match award but in truth it could have been any one of the Spurs back four, who were all excellent throughout.
Another man who could lay claim to the Man of the Match award was Lloris. The Frenchman was constantly alert and brought a calming influence to the defence, a feat all the more remarkable considering he appeared to be knocked unconscious after a collision with Everton forward Romelu Lukaku after 76 minutes.
Initially, it seemed as though the knee of the stocky Belgian striker had ended Lloris’ afternoon. However, after a lengthy stoppage in play, Lloris returned to the field and produced some fine saves to secure Spurs a point, much to the dismay of the majority of fans inside the ground.
With this brave performance, Lloris has surely cemented his position as the best goalkeeper in the league, and his speedy recovery will have brought immense relief to Villas-Boas and his coaching staff.
Despite this, it must be noted that Spurs offensive players struggled to break down the Everton defence, who were themselves disciplined and committed to the cause. The lack of goals will still be a matter of great concern to the coaching staff at White Hart Lane and more clinical sides may punish Spurs’ bluntness in front of goal in coming weeks.
However, Spurs remain fourth in the league and can take heart from an excellent start to what promises to be an exciting season for the Lilywhites.