Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli shine for Tottenham at Everton
Tottenham and Everton have drawn the most number of games in the Premier League this season (nine each), so it was hardly surprising that Sunday's meeting at Goodison Park ended 1-1.
It was also fairly predictable that ex-Spurs winger Aaron Lennon would score his first goal of the season against his former club, and he duly fired the home side into the lead midway through the first half.
That was harsh on Spurs, who hit the woodwork on either side of that opener, with Harry Kane hitting the post and Ben Davies striking the crossbar. Nonetheless, Mauricio Pochettino's side got a deserved equaliser just before the interval.
In a goal that was very reminiscent of the one they scored away at West Bromwich Albion in early December, Toby Alderweireld launched a pinpoint long ball from inside his own half, which Dele Alli controlled perfectly on his chest inside the box before volleying expertly past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Everton had the better chances in the second half but Spurs left Merseyside with a point and now find themselves with a three-point gap on either side of them, with third-placed Manchester City above and fifth-placed Manchester United below.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Hugo Lloris, 7 -- The Frenchman was probably as surprised as anyone by the accuracy of his former teammate Lennon's finish. Lloris then made a good save from a Muhamed Besic volley in the second half.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- Delivered a dangerous early cross which was well defended by Seamus Coleman ahead of Alli, and defended solidly once again.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 8 -- Timed his tackles immaculately as usual, particularly when Ross Barkley was running at him one on one in the first half, and he set up Alli's equaliser with another perfectly-executed ball over the top.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 7 -- Generally deals with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku well and although his Belgian compatriot set up Everton's goal with a cushioned header, the Spurs defender made a good sliding tackle to stop him getting through in the second half before blocking a late shot.
DF Ben Davies, 7 -- Picked ahead of Danny Rose, the left-back was drawn to Lukaku and left Lennon unmarked when Everton scored the opener. But he hit the crossbar with a swerving 20-yard effort and used the ball intelligently in the home side's half, apart from one occasion when Walker was in acres of space and he failed to play the pass.
MF Eric Dier, 7 -- Quietly efficient; protected the back four well and played the ball simply.
MF Tom Carroll, 7 -- Got on the ball as often as possible and passed it quickly. There were times when he played too safe and other times when he was over-ambitious, but there were also a number of neat passes between the lines that got Spurs' attacking players running at their opponents. The 23-year-old still looks vulnerable defensively due to his slight frame, but he had the intelligence to foul Barkley and take a yellow card when the Everton man was getting away from him in the second half.
MF Erik Lamela, 6 -- The Argentine has been in fine form recently but was less effective here, struggling to make much of an impact on the left flank, although he still worked hard.
MF Dele Alli, 8 -- Took his goal very well, both in terms of the movement and the execution, and has now contributed three goals and three assists in his last seven league games. He also set up a chance for Kane with a neat chest pass into the striker's path.
THE BEST OF ESPN FC
- Bell: Liverpool fans make themselves heard
- Cox: Leicester improving | Why Poch should stay
- Okwonga: Man United's market | City's title hopes
- Laurens: PSG's pre-UCL issues | Hertha's curse
- Highlights (U.S. only): Stuttgart 1-3 BVB
- FC TV: Champions League W2W4 | LVG wrong
- News | Transfer | Toe Poke | Fantasy | FC TV | Podcast | MLS
MF Christian Eriksen, 7 -- Looked brighter and got more involved on this occasion, even if he is still lacking an end product.
FW Harry Kane, 6 -- Hit the post from 25 yards in the early stages and was denied by an excellent challenge from John Stones in the second half, but faded as the game went on. It would be entirely understandable if he is tiring.
MF Heung-Min Son, 6 -- Replaced Eriksen in the 69th minute. Provided energy and harried Everton but was unable to repeat his Watford heroics.
MF Nacer Chadli, NR -- Came on in place of Alli for another brief cameo and, again, offered little.
MF Joshua Onomah, NR -- Replaced Lamela in the frantic final moments and won the ball in Everton's half, but the chance came to nothing.
Ben is ESPN FC's Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.