x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Moyes' men are running on empty

Perhaps it is as well Everton have already secured a place in Europe. Afflicted by exhaustion, the huge efforts of a slender squad are taking their toll.

LIVERPOOL // Perhaps it is as well Everton have already secured a place in Europe. Afflicted by exhaustion, the huge efforts of a slender squad are taking their toll. Tottenham negotiated a trip to Goodison Park with comparative ease as, for the second successive home game, Everton failed to score. Indeed, although Dan Gosling struck the post, Harry Redknapp's team could count themselves unfortunate they did not secure a victory to improve their chances of joining David Moyes' men in the Europa League next season.

With Wilson Palacios absent on compassionate grounds amid fears his brother has been killed in his native Honduras and a host of injuries, Harry Redknapp indulged in some end-of-season experimentation. The Tottenham manager has long been an advocate of playing three central defenders and a change of personnel brought a change of system. That permitted Luka Modric a freer role further forwards and it was one the Croatian relished, zipping passes around on the wet turf at Goodison Park.

Slick distribution did result in the first chance, though the surprise was that Modric was not involved. Jermaine Jenas found the advancing Robbie Keane. As Joleon Lescott challenged him, however, the Irishman dragged his shot wide. Until recently a Liverpool player, his first return to Merseyside did not include an instant impact. Everton, as they had proved in their previous home game against Manchester City, were flat, unable to replicate the urgency of their performances in reaching the FA Cup final. The first chance materialised just before the interval and then the stretching Ledley King blocked Jo's shot.

Thereafter Jack Rodwell, a composed figure at the heart of the midfield, struck a long-range shot over the bar. Playing with a greater sense of aggression after the interval, they raised the tempo of the game. Typically, Tim Cahill played a prominent part and the Australian's fierce half-volley whistled just beyond the far post. Gosling then came closer with his final touch of the game, rifling a half-volley against the post when Spurs failed to clear a corner.

Although Redknapp introduced a third forward, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Everton spent the closing stages attacking. A stalemate, however, always looked likely. @Email:rjolly@thenational.ae