6 Everton Talking Points from 0-0 Draw with Spurs
Everton and Tottenham failed in their attempts to go second in the table, playing out a forgettable 0-0 draw at Goodison Park.
Spurs began brighter, dominating first-half possession, and will feel aggrieved at not earning a penalty for a clumsy challenge on Jan Vertonghen.
Everton stole the ascendency in the second period and were also denied what looked a clear penalty on Seamus Coleman.
Despite lengthy spells of possession for each side, the goalkeepers were rarely extended, and neither team did enough to earn the points.
Here's a look at some Everton-related talking points to emerge from this game.
Defence on Top
A combination of effective pressing from the visitors and some sloppy passing from Everton left the home side entrenched in their own defensive third for much of the first period.
Spurs pressed their opponents high up the pitch, rushing the Toffees into several poor touches and sloppy turnovers.
While it was a struggle to clear their lines, Everton actually defended with authority. Tottenham were restricted to ambitious long-range efforts and only tested Tim Howard once from inside the box.
Both centre-backs were especially dominant and deserved a fifth clean sheet in 10 Premier League games.
Many were concerned by Roberto Martinez's alarmingly porous defence at Wigan, but his new side currently boast their best clean-sheet ratio (50 percent) in Premier League history.
However, while Everton excelled at limiting their opponent's creativity, Spurs were even more effective at doing exactly the same to them, allowing the hosts just five chances.
The Toffees were completely void of ideas in the first half, completing just 14 passes in the final third. While they improved to make 72 after the break, it was rarely quick enough to trouble a well-organised defence.
Creating just five chances equalled the Toffees' lowest return in all of last season. Martinez's side also managed just one shot on target, something they bettered in every game last year.
Martinez Continues to Back Youth
Everton enjoyed a far better second half, and the introduction of two teenagers, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, had a large bearing on this.
Barkley looked eager to make an impact, having lost his starting berth to Leon Osman. He was typically more direct and provided some much-needed incision to Everton's play, particularly in between the lines where Osman had struggled.
Deulofeu didn't need much to replace Kevin Mirallas (who somehow managed just four passes in over 60 minutes of football) but produced flashes of brilliance, ghosting past several players and almost setting up Lukaku.
Both players have exciting futures but will remain inconsistent as they hone their craft. Martinez's faith in their ability is refreshing, especially in such a big game.
Coleman Becoming Penalty-Prone
Seamus Coleman didn't concede a penalty for his challenge on Jan Vertonghen, but it was still clumsy defending that could have easily lost his side the game.
His defending was initially inconsistent last season, and he seems to be suffering from similar hesitancy at the moment.
Had the referee awarded another one today, he would have conceded three penalties in four games, all for similar incidents.
Each time he's been caught out positionally and been over-anxious to correct himself, something he must quickly improve.
Passing Troubles at the Back
In Martinez's passing system, both centre-backs and goalkeeper are required to play out from the back.
While Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin were both excellent in their defensive duties, neither appeared comfortable being involved so frequently in this department, along with Tim Howard.
All three players had moments of awkwardness, and Howard almost gifted Spurs a goal with a poor kick, as was the case against Chelsea.
The presence of Gareth Barry has improved this situation, with the midfielder regularly dropping back for the ball, but Everton have been close to disaster on a few occasions at the back.
Identifying a defender more comfortable with the ball at his feet, as an eventual replacement for Distin, would greatly improve the Toffees' fluency.
Toffees Remain Under the Radar
This result will frustrate fans, especially as the Toffees remain in seventh place. Martinez has made an excellent start to his Everton career, and the chance to go second would have really announced their progress.
However, a slight comfort is the fact the Toffees will continue flying under the radar.
One point separates seventh and second place in the Premier League, and the fact that so many teams are clustered together has masked some of Everton's fine work. Fans enjoy media adulation but it can also affect teams and increase the pressure on performances.
Going second would have been a fine achievement and laid down an impressive marker, but at least the Toffees can enjoy a few more games without the media glare.
Statistics via Who Scored?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!