After a frankly ridiculous 112 minutes of football, this afternoon’s Premier League game at Goodison Park finally ended in a 1-1 draw, as a late goal from Cenk Tosun allowed Everton to secure a valuable point against Tottenham Hotspur, who took the lead midway through the second half through a Dele Alli goal.
It was hardly the most inspiring viewing; both teams struggled to create chances throughout the game and it was easy to see why both teams have been considered off-form in recent weeks. That said, the game wasn’t without drama and talking points, a lot of which had to do with some controversial refereeing calls.
Here are 5 talking points from Everton’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
#1 How much of an effect did Gomes’ injury have on both sides?
The main talking point of this game will surely be the nasty injury suffered by Everton midfielder Andre Gomes around the 80-minute mark. The Portuguese star appeared to suffer a serious leg break after a challenge from Heung-min Son led to a collision with Serge Aurier, with the lack of replays seeming to confirm the severity of the injury.
Son was shown a red card for his part in the incident. To me that seemed harsh, as without such a bad injury – which was essentially a freak accident – there’s no way such an innocuous challenge would’ve led to a sending off. With two lengthy VAR checks having already added plenty of time to the game, the result of Gomes’ injury was that we ended up with a massive 12 minutes of added time, and it turned out to be key to the result.
Tottenham were forced to play much deeper due to the numerical disadvantage, while Everton seemed to be willed on to find an equaliser in the name of Gomes, and in the 97th minute, that goal came through Cenk Tosun’s bullet header.
Did Everton deserve to escape with a point? Perhaps, but the decision to send Son off definitely seemed like a harsh one and almost certainly caused Spurs’ late collapse. Everyone will only wish the best for Gomes in his recovery, but it’s a fair guess that Everton would not have come away with a point had he – and Son – remained on the pitch.
#2 What was Martin Atkinson thinking with the VAR checks?
After more VAR issues in a couple of yesterday’s Premier League games, the controversial side of the officiating tool once again raised its head at Goodison Park. The first half saw Heung-min Son go down under a clumsy challenge from Yerry Mina inside Everton’s box, but after numerous replays – and even two apparent checks – a penalty was not awarded by referee Martin Atkinson.
The baffling thing was that this challenge was probably more of a penalty than the one awarded to Watford in their game against Chelsea yesterday; wasn’t VAR supposed to level the playing field when it comes to things like this?
The second half saw even more controversy as Dele Alli apparently handled the ball during a challenge inside the box with Mina, but after another lengthy delay it was decided by VAR that Alli had been “under pressure” at the time of the challenge and thus a penalty to Everton was not awarded, either.
The biggest issue here isn’t so much with the non-penalty calls, but more with the time it took to come to those decisions. Add in a couple of frankly ridiculous VAR checks across the game for innocuous challenges, and the game ended up with 12 minutes of injury time rather than somewhere around 5.
The bottom line? Nobody seems to be happy with VAR right now and the entire system needs to be looked over by the power-brokers in the Premier League as it’s causing more confusion than anything else.
#3 How can both sides get out of their current funk?
Forgetting all of the controversy surrounding VAR and the Andre Gomes injury for a moment, it’s hard for any fan to deny that today’s game was a painfully poor one to watch. Both Everton and Tottenham seemed devoid of any creativity from start to finish, and Spurs’ goal came from a major defensive mistake while the Toffees’ equaliser was scrappy, too.
The fact that the game saw just 5 shots on target says a lot, and for great portions of the match it felt like both sets of players barely knew each other as there were so many stray passes flying around. The first half in particular was as bad a 45 minutes as the Premier League’s seen in recent memory.
Both sides will likely be disappointed with a draw, but the question remains, how can they break out of their current slumps before it’s too late? Right now Everton are sitting just one spot above the drop zone, and while Tottenham are 6 places above them, they’re only two points ahead and the top four look miles away.
Based on today’s performances things could get worse before they get better, too. Perhaps the upcoming international break will provide both sides a chance to regroup – but with one more league game to play for both, it’s imperative that they improve next week on this dire showing.
#4 How much longer can Spurs afford to carry Eriksen?
The question of Christian Eriksen and his role at Tottenham is one that’s been asked ever since the summer, as the Danish international has refused to sign a new deal at Spurs and is thus heading towards the end of his current deal in the summer of 2020.
The beginning of the season saw Mauricio Pochettino start some games without Eriksen, but most fans suggested that the side lacked creativity without him, and since then he’s largely been restored.
To what end, though? During today’s game, Eriksen was almost completely anonymous, and was yet again guilty of sloppy passes and a failure to press the ball when the opposition were in possession.
Sure, other Tottenham players didn’t have great games either – Heung-min Son, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura also struggled – but Eriksen has been struggling for what feels like months now.
With Giovani Lo Celso now regaining fitness – he appeared today from the bench for the second week in a row – and Erik Lamela fantastic in a creative role in Spurs’ recent Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade, you have to question how much longer Tottenham can carry the Dane in their starting XI.
To me he seems like a player who’s already mentally checked out of the club – and if that is the case then Pochettino probably needs to check out on him, too.
#5 Is Marco Silva’s job in danger?
Both Mauricio Pochettino and Marco Silva are currently in charge of teams who are struggling for form, and judging on today’s game it feels like that isn’t about to change. But while Pochettino has built years of goodwill at Tottenham and of course took them to the Champions League final just months ago, that isn’t the case for Silva at Goodison Park.
The Portuguese boss was brought in during the summer of 2018 and despite a run of questionable results last season, it felt like he’d turned the corner in the Spring with just one defeat in Everton’s final matches of 2018/19.
Silva then spent a hefty amount of money on the likes of Andre Gomes, Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi and Djibril Sidibe this summer, and many fans were expecting his side to push on and attempt to break into the top six, but that hasn’t been the case at all.
Everton have won just 3 games thus far while losing 6, and worryingly they’ve only faced two of last season’s top six in that period.
While Silva came into the Everton job with a strong reputation, it’s also true that he never truly succeeded over a long period at either Hull City or Watford. Does he have time to turn things around? Potentially, but unless the Toffees improve their form soon, he could be in trouble before Christmas.