Saturday’s game and the good point won at Goodison have, unfortunately, been overshadowed by events off the field. The tragic death of Palacios’ brother, a matter of days after the fatal attack on Defoe’s half-brother, was followed by the arrest of Ledley King. Perhaps the less said about this latest nightclub "incident" the better, but certainly the television images of Spurs’ club captain were not to his credit.
One image that will, however, stay long in the mind is that of poor Wilson Palacios, sitting in the lobby of the team hotel on the morning of the match. Having known for six hours that the body of his kidnapped brother had been found, the young Honduran waited, conscious of not wanting to rouse the manager too early to pass on the dreadful news. As Harry Redknapp himself observed,
"He sat around the hotel lobby with his case packed until 7am because he didn’t want to wake me. I’m amazed with him. But we organised for him to be driven back to London so he could get a flight home. You couldn’t wish for a more calm and likeable lad, football is not really that important after this."
At the end of a week when the petulance of Drogba, Ballack and Ronaldo was on full show, Palacios, in the most difficult of circumstances, still managed to show some character – a quality all too often lacking among his Premier League compatriots.
The absence of Palacios and injuries to others meant that Spurs made changes not only to the team but also to the usual formation. Whether it was a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2 is open to question, but whatever it was, it worked for the first 40 minutes. Woodgate, King and Corluka formed a solid three-man unit across the back, with Bale and Hutton operating as wing-backs. Without neglecting their defensive duties, these two played so high up the pitch that Everton – at least in the first half – were at a loss as to how to cope with them. Bale in particular was outstanding for the whole 90 minutes, with only Woodgate coming close to challenging him as Spurs’ man of the match. Given Bale’s disappointing performances in the past, it was great to see him displaying the form of which everyone knows he is capable.
For all their first half dominance, Spurs never really troubled Tim Howard in the Everton goal, and it was a very different story in the second. Pienaar (who scored the winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season) and Baines began to test the obviously tiring Hutton, who is perhaps still getting back to full fitness after his return from injury. Modric, Jenas and Huddlestone were also being overrun in midfield and a change was clearly required.
Admittedly the Spurs bench was a little thin. Against a combative Everton, the game called for the likes of the injured Jamie O’Hara. Redknapp did have Bentley at his disposal but, yet again, the £15 million man did not get on – surely a further indication, if one were needed, that he will be gone in the summer. Bizarrely, Redknapp decided instead to introduce Pavlyuchenko with less than ten minutes to go. In that short time, the striker’s only accomplishment was to get himself booked for a series of niggly fouls.
Stranger still was the manger’s decision to leave Keane on the pitch, dropping him into midfield to replace the substituted Modric. Why the out of form Keane even started the game in preference to Palvyluchenko is a mystery – unless, of course, the Russian international is another player who does not figure in Harry Redknapp’s plans for next season.