Within the space of the season's first eight days both clubs had already experienced the misleading pleasure of premature high praise and equally too hasty condemnation. Everton had been acclaimed as being "passionate" and "tireless" in holding Manchester United to a draw at Goodison last Saturday, then dismissed as "lamentable" in a 3-0 away defeat by Aston Villa on Wednesday. Spurs had been "outplayed" by West Ham the previous Saturday but "dominant" against Newcastle on Monday. So, beware the hyperbole of summer.
Certainly Spurs quickly re-united themselves with their form of their previous match and Everton resumed looking as frail as they had in theirs. David Ginola teased a defence lacking the authority of Dave Watson, and when his 17th-minute contemptuous glide past two lunging tackles led to Darren Anderton forcing a desperate save from Paul Gerrard, the omens for Everton were dark.
The flow continued with waves of Spurs attacks until Kevin Campbell managed to take up a rare counter-attack and lifted the ball high over Ian Walker and on to the crossbar. Not that anything else promised much for Everton until, after 23 minutes, a shot from Nicky Barmby struck Francis Jeffers who, after his unseemly wage dispute, needed to redeem himself. He chased the ball to the goal-line but was beaten to it by Walker, who seemed to have pushed it away before Jeffers stumbled over him. Even so, the referee gave a spot-kick which David Unsworth converted.
For 10 minutes only Tottenham's indifferent finishing and some outstanding goalkeeping by Gerrard prevented them from balancing the score. Then Ginola centred deep and Steffen Iversen's header was superbly tipped over by Gerrard, who was rewarded cruelly only a few seconds later when Anderton's corner was headed past him by Tim Sherwood.
Lacking adequate cover in front of him, Gerrard was constantly tested. A penetrating centre from Sherwood shortly after the interval saw no serious challenge to Les Ferdinand, but Gerrard managed to parry his header clear. Stephen Carr, whose attacks down the right spoke volumes for Everton's midfield problems, brought about Gerrard's finest save, a push round the post from a fierce shot.
That hand-bruising deflection became even more important when, after 76 minutes, Walker came out to meet Jeffers, who was chasing Campbell's through ball, and up-ended him. The referee had no qualms about awarding Everton another penalty, but let Walker escape with only a yellow card. Again Unsworth slammed in the kick.
Everton's fortunate advantage lasted for five minutes and, sadly, it was Gerrard who offered Spurs a way back. As Ginola's centre began to drop Gerrard failed to make contact and Oyvind Leonhardsen, at the far post, had an easy equalising shot. Carr continued to thrust forward and, after 86 minutes, his centre was flicked in by the hard-working Iversen. "Come to George Graham for entertainment," the Spurs manager remarked with a wink.Reuse content