Tottenham's plucky understudies fail to grab spotlight

Posted by Dan Fitch

If Gareth Bale is the star of the show for Tottenham, then Aaron Lennon is the main attacking support, whose name might be found second on the bill.

Sunday, both were missing, and it was a chance for the understudies to step up to the spotlight. The likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Lewis Holtby, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey have all individually shone at times this season, yet none could really consider themselves a first-team regular or their time at the club an unqualified success.

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It was up to these bit-part performers to prove that they could handle the leading roles against an Everton side missing a couple of their biggest stars, with both Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar suspended. The 2-2 draw provided answers.

Spurs got off to a perfect start when Adebayor converted a Jan Vertonghen cross to take the lead in the opening minute. It was the second successive game that the Togo striker found the net.

More important, the erratic striker gave a performance that brought back memories of the displays that we saw last season. Adebayor put in a shift today. He was actually running around and jumping for headers. That’s not too much too expect for six figures a week, but it’s better than him strolling around in a daze.

Sigurdsson was another player who impressed Sunday. He’s been in very good form for some weeks now, but with Bale and Lennon absent he looked as if he understood the extra responsibility on his shoulders.

Kyle Walker was another to push himself. He was the only Spurs player able to offer any pace and constantly got forward, pushing back Everton’s normally rampaging Leighton Baines.

The whole team looked to have a bit of zip about them -- as if they realised that they had to give something extra to make up for the absence of key personnel.

For that the understudies cannot be faulted, but ultimately they were not good enough to win. Everton equalised swiftly after some slack defending from a corner and then took the lead in the second half courtesy of a nice solo effort from Kevin Mirallas.

Effort can only get you so far, and Spurs found themselves chasing a draw, rather than the win they really needed following Arsenal's victory on Saturday.

A friend made a good point today. If there were no Bale, Lennon, or for that matter Sandro or Younes Kaboul at the club, no one would expect this side that started to be good enough to finish in the top four. Perhaps a win Sunday was too much to ask and as such the fans at White Hart Lane should be grateful for the draw.

This was a game between evenly matched sides. Tottenham had plenty of possession but were forced to try and pass their way through patiently. Everton were more dangerous and cutting on the break, thanks to the pace of Mirallas and Victor Anichebe.

Eventually. it was a forgotten figure who made the difference. Tom Huddlestone came on for Moussa Dembele, a substitution which drew some booing in the stands around me.

Yet the midfielder made an instant impact. Without anyone who could really run at the Everton defence, the passing range of Huddlestone gave Spurs a method of getting the ball from A to B swiftly.

He’s featured so irregularly over the last couple of seasons it's easy to forget how good a passer he is. The pace and urgency of Tottenham’s attack quickened. With a couple of minutes remaining, an Adebayor shot hit the post and Sigurdsson struck the rebound into an empty net.

With luck, Spurs might have Bale, Lennon or even both, back in the team for the next league game April 21 against Manchester City. They need at least one. There is no way anyone can realistically expect the team that played Sunday to beat a side of City’s class. By the time the game comes around, Tottenham will almost certainly be out of the top four and behind Arsenal.

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