Everton and Tottenham Hotspur played out a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Sunday in a low-quality match between two teams bereft of confidence.
Dele Alli fired Spurs in front after Alex Iwobi’s misplaced pass put Everton on the backfoot, while Cenk Tosun levelled the score in the eighth minute of stoppage time to give Marco Silva a tiny slither of hope as he clings to his job.
But football arguably took a back seat as Andre Gomes was stretchered off the pitch in the second half with what looks to be a serious leg injury.
Here are five things we learned from a nervous affair on Merseyside:
1. Alli answers his critics
Alli has really struggled for form over the past couple of months and many have now started to question his place in the Spurs side, as well as the ceiling for his future development.
On Sunday, he gave those critics the perfect answer, firing in much-needed goal to give Spurs the lead in a tight, nervous affair at Goodison Park.
Dele Alli has scored his first Premier League goal away from home since January 2019 against Fulham.
That was Spurs' last away win in the league. 👀 pic.twitter.com/GeUQFhB4xs
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 3, 2019
Former Arsenal man Iwobi’s misplaced pass was picked up on by Heung-min Son, who then fed the ball to Alli. The England international still had plenty to do from there but with Djibril Sidibe caught high up the pitch, he had the chance to take on Mason Holgate one-on-one.
Alli beat his compatriot with ease and fired a low, clinical finish beyond Jordan Pickford. A huge boost for a player desperately low on confidence.
2. Scared to lose
There a few words in the English dictionary to describe just how bad Sunday’s match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur was and most of them can’t be used here, so we’ll go with “turgid”.
These two sides had won just six of their combined 20 Premier League games this season prior to Sunday, leaving Silva and Mauricio Pochettino under intense pressure. My word, it showed.
Christian Eriksen's first-half by numbers vs. Everton:
0 take-ons completed
0 chances created
0 shots attempted
1 yellow card
No player on the pitch lost possession more times (12). pic.twitter.com/LqOvr2t0Kn
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 3, 2019
The first half saw more yellow cards awarded (2) than shots on target (1) and even that one effort from Richarlison was tame, rolled straight into the grateful hands of Paulo Gazzaniga.
And it seemed about right that when the breakthrough finally came just after the hour mark, it arrived via a mistake from a former Arsenal man with Iwobi’s stray pass leading to the goal.
Even then, Spurs couldn’t hold onto the lead, with Tosun heading home the equaliser in the 98th minute. 1-1 is an incredibly flattering scoreline for a game lacking in any sort of quality.
3. Is this enough for Marco Silva?
If he wasn’t already before Sunday, Silva is under very serious pressure now and must be worrying about his job security.
This draw defeat leaves Everton 17th, just three points above the relegation zone and with one win in their last seven Premier League games.
Even more worryingly for supporters is the fact that this result makes it 25 games without a win for Silva’s Everton when they’ve conceded the first goal, drawing five and losing the other 20.
That lack of backbone is the last trait you want when embroiled in a relegation scrap which, unless things don’t drastically change for the better very, very soon, is exactly what Everton will be up against for the rest of 2019/20.
The Toffees did well to stick at it and earn themselves a point but whether even that will be enough to save Silva’s job remains to be seen.
4. More VAR shambles
Don’t worry, we’re getting just as fed up writing about the week-in-week-out shambles of VAR as you are reading about it. But honestly, Sunday’s clash at Goodison Park was yet another mark on an increasing filthy copybook for the technology, which is becoming more laughable by the week.
Evertonians have already felt aggrieved at the hands of the video assistants this season after Michael Keane’s non-challenge on Aaron Connolly was deemed enough to have a penalty given against them during their 3-2 at Brighton last week, so for VAR to spend about three minutes watching a clear handball from Alli over, and over, and over, then not award a spot-kick is a bitter pill to swallow and quite simply laughable.
Even before that incident, VAR had made a mockery of itself, spending an equally long amount of time to decide that Yerry Mina’s clumsy challenge on Son was exaggerated, before delaying the match even further to check their own check again.
There was always going to be teething problems with VAR but this is getting ridiculous.
5. Horror injury for Gomes
Despite both sides desperately needing the win and Everton working hard to at least get themselves back on terms, football took a back seat late on as Gomes left the pitch on a stretcher with what looks to be a horrific leg injury.
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 3, 2019
The Portugal international was charging down the left wing when Son challenged to try and halt his progress. In reality, there was nothing malicious in the tackle from the South Korean, but the reaction from the crowd and players in close vicinity told the story as Gomes landed horribly on his leg.
Son was left in tears at the injury and shown a red card, but that will be a mere footnote as we await news of Gomes’ wellbeing.