Tim Howard helps Everton to hard-earned point at Tottenham
Top six finish hopefuls Tottenham (evens with Coral) and Everton (7/2 from 10/3) continued respective underwhelming starts to the Premier League season with a goalless draw at White Hart Lane, which saw Spurs denied victory by a string of fine saves from man of the match Tim Howard.
Staying strong over the John Stones transfer saga and Chelsea’s persistent interest is certainly commendable, but the Toffees were instead indebted to their American keeper to preserve a point.
Roberto Martinez promoted Bryan Oviedo into the left back berth for Premier League action, despite being part of a defence that conceded three in the extra time Capital One Cup victory over Barnsley in midweek. Gerard Deulofeu, who had an impact in that clash, remained on the bench.
Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino also made alterations, welcoming Danny Rose back to the left-hand side of the rearguard in place of Ben Davies and handing Nabil Bentaleb a recall in midfield with Erik Lamela making way.
Harry Kane, still waiting to break his duck this season, dragged an early effort wide for hosts Spurs, who then saw Bentaleb pull his shot right across the face of goal when set up by Nacer Chadli.
Despite this promising start, Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris had to be on hand to tip over from Tom Cleverley, who was later stretchered off after being injured by Eric Dier’s tackle, when Kyle Walker cheaply ceded possession.
Spotlight figure Stones made a key block to deny Ryan Mason at the other end before Kane missed a gilt-edge chance to give Spurs the lead midway through the first half.
Found by Mason breaking through the centre circle, England international Kane, who took up worryingly deep positions in the absence of Christian Eriksen throughout, saw the outstretched leg of Howard stop him from scoring when one-on-one with the Everton goalie.
Before half an hour, the Toffees needed their American keeper to deny Mason, found by Chadli in the left channel. A long-range Bentaleb strike then needed tipping away as Howard saw the effort late. Toby Alderweireld’s header from an outswinging Mason corner also needed helping on its way.
Either side of the interval, the two teams lost a player apiece. Cleverley came off before the break and after the interval Spurs saw Mousa Dembele twist an ankle. His replacement, Dele Alli, almost most the perfect impact off the bench, as he teed up Mason only to find Howard in the way yet again.
Another Kane shot was blocked and Chadli skied the rebound, before referee Mike Jones waves away hopeful home side penalty appeals when Stones’ sliding challenge caught the trailing leg of Alli.
Jan Vertonghen’s deflected effort needed fingertips from Howard, and the Toffees then went close to nicking it when all-action attacker Arouna Kone glanced Oviedo’s left-wing centre just wide.
Everton also saw their one spot-kick shout turned down when Kyle Walker appeared to lean into substitute Steven Naismith, as Gareth Barry nodded the ball down to him in the Tottenham box.
Spurs striker Kane had a poacher’s finish rightly ruled out for offside late on, so both sides had to settle for a point. With nine shots on target between them, Tottenham and the Toffees should be targeting more clinical displays in future.