Anyone looking at the statistics leading up to Everton's visit to White Hart Lane might well have been tempted to place a bet on the result being a no-scoring or low-scoring draw, as indeed turned out to be the case. Going into the game, Everton had managed to score in only half of their Premier League fixtures to date, with no more than two of those goals coming away from home. More impressively, however, they had kept three clean sheets in a row. For their part, Spurs had kept a solitary clean sheet all season in the league and were also averaging just over a goal per game. The 1-1 score at the final whistle came, therefore, as no great surprise and on balance it was probably a fair result.
Everton will no doubt be the happier of the two sides with an away point, but Spurs must have been somewhat relieved that the form that deserted them at the San Siro returned - at least to some extent - at the Lane. No doubt the presence of van der Vaart was partly responsible, as was a much improved contribution by Luka Modric, who was probably the outstanding player of the first half. Alan Hutton was also impressive as Spurs carried the game to Everton but were rebuffed by a resolute defence. The threat of Gareth Bale, whose wonderful hat-trick gave respectability to the score line in midweek, was largely snuffed out by Phil Neville. Harry Redknapp was quick to praise the Everton captain after the game:
"Neville is an underrated player and did well today. Gareth has been murdering everybody, but I knew it wouldn't be easy today because Neville knows what he is doing and handled him very well, as well as anyone this season"
The manager introduced Pavlyuchenko late in the game and shifted to 4-4-2 in a last attempt to breach the Everton back line but to no avail. The visitors came with a plan that worked, a plan no doubt imposed in part by their own injury list, with the most notable absence being Mikel Arteta. Without his creativity in the middle of the field, Everton offered little in terms of going forward. Spurs, by contrast, had creativity in abundance in that area but lacked the cutting edge that perhaps the injured Jermain Defoe might have been able to provide.
Yet despite the disappointment of missing out on all three points, there were plenty of positives to take from the game, not least van der Vaart maintaining his happy knack of scoring in front of the home fans. Those fans, however, will have been less happy to see him pick up another silly booking, in this case for dissent. He has become such an important player in such a short period of time that Spurs need him available for selection rather than missing through suspension. Thankfully he will be available (and presumably will be selected) for the visit to Old Trafford. A draw there would be a good result. Replacing Man. Utd. in the top four would be even better.