Everton stretched their unbeaten run to eight games with a 1-1 draw against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, having taken the lead through Royston Drenthe only to be pegged back before half-time by Bobby Zamora. While there may be some disappointment at not taking three points after opening the scoring, the real disappointment should still be from losing to the R’s at Goodison Park earlier in the season, and Everton’s home form will be under the microscope again next weekend when Tottenham Hotspur are the visitors.
Matters did not improve immediately after Christmas either, as Bolton Wanderers defeated Everton with dispiriting ease in a match that needed Tim Howard and a freak wind to put Everton on the score sheet, and Blackburn Rovers left Merseyside with a right feel aggrieved at only taking a point to show for efforts much more impressive than those of their hosts. It was only until Fulham came to Goodison in the FA Cup that Everton looked truly comfortable in front of their own supporters, and goals from Denis Stracqualursi and Marouane Fellaini cancelled out Danny Murphy’s penalty and kept Everton on an FA Cup journey that continues to this day. Sunderland will visit soon in the same competition, and Everton’s new found strong home form could make for a powerful weapon against the Mackems.
Before then, however, is the small matter of a visit from Harry Redknapp’s high-flying Spurs who, despite their defeat at the hands on Manchester United, still represent one of the toughest tests of Everton’s season. Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart, who both missed Tottenham’s defeat to the champions, could return, and the Welshman in particular gave Everton a torrid time at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. Darron Gibson may return for Everton, meaning Phil Neville can vacate the midfield, but any boost from the return of Gibson will largely be lost through the absence of Steven Pienaar, on loan from Tottenham. But if Seamus Coleman comes in for the South African it will be a reprise of a right flank that has often dealt with the rampaging Bale in past meetings.
To keep up Everton’s momentum it is important the draw with QPR is viewed as a point gained, not two points dropped, as momentum will be vital to overcoming Spurs, Sunderland and the other sides still on Everton’s fixture list. With at least 12 games to go in the league, and at least one more in the FA Cup, there is much still to play for.
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