EVERTON 2 (Saha 3, Coleman 75) – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (van der Vaart 11)
Seamus Coleman loves playing against Spurs. It was in this fixture last season that he first announced himself; coming on as an early substitute he was the catalyst for a pulsating comeback from 2-0 down, and again last night the young Irishman was hugely influential, making a mug of his marker, Assou-Ekotto, setting up chance after chance, before finally netting the winner. But this was no one man show. Heitinga was impressive, returning after a long lay off he deputised admirably for the injured Jagielka, Fellaini was back to his best putting in a powerful shift of box to box midfield play, while Saha finally found the net, set up the second and showed that while form comes and goes class is, actually, permanent. Freed of the discipline and toil which 4-4-1-1 imposes on a lone striker, Saha was outstanding, and Beckford too, despite missing another sitter, is beginning to look more at home playing in the Premier League.
Having shot down yet another top team all blue eyes now turn to the FA Cup and Scunthorpe United at their tight Glanford Park ground, capacity 9,182, a tricky tie, but surely not beyond the Everton of last night, or the Everton of the City of Manchester Stadium a few weeks ago – just so long as that’s the team that turns up. Any reversion by David Moyes to a lone-striker formation for that game would be dangerous. Firstly it would be taken by all, players and fans, as a sign of weakness, secondly, and more significantly, 4-4-1-1 accommodates Tim Cahill’s special talents to perfection. Without him there is no one at the club who can fill that role. Moyes must stick with two strikers. Yes by all means rest Saha and protect his fragile body, but replace him with Anichebe or Yakubu. Coleman and Pienaar too might usefully be taken out of the firing line in favour of Osman and Bilyaletdinov. However it’s not the tinkering with the team that will see Everton safely through to the 4th round, it’s sending them out in the right frame of mind, properly prepared and ready to match the physical challenge which the Iron will undoubtedly present.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville ©, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar (Osman 87); Beckford (Yakubu 77), Saha (Rodwell 88)
Unused subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Anichebe
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson ©, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Keane 80), Modric, Jenas, Bale (Kranjcar 58), van der Vaart; Crouch
Unused subs: Pletikosa, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Bassong, Corluka
Referee: Lee Probert
Gate: 34,124 (change from last season: +121)