Toffees waste chance to leave London trio in sticky situation

SOUTHAMPTON 0 vs EVERTON 0

LONDON trio Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea were let off the hook last night when Everton, their main rivals in the four-way battle for two Champions League places, failed to beat turmoil-hit Southampton.

The Toffees, who remain fifth in the Premier League, missed the chance to close to within a point of Spurs and five of Chelsea, and increase their lead over Arsenal, who have a game in hand, to six points.

Indeed it might have been even worse for Everton, who somehow made it to half-time without conceding, despite being subjected to a barrage of attacks from the relegation-threatened Saints.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard repeatedly denied Southampton, in their first game under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, and when striker Rickie Lambert did beat the American his header was scrambled off the line by Nikica Jelavic.

The visitors improved markedly after the interval, Croatia forward Jelavic squandering their best chance to snatch all three points, but left manager David Moyes ruing an 11th league draw of the season.

“We are a good bit through the season, we have had a lot of draws and we need to look to win. We will certainly try to ensure we win more than we draw in the second half of the season,” said Moyes.

Last night’s result at St Mary’s means third-placed Chelsea enjoy a seven point cushion from Everton, while Tottenham are three clear of their closest challengers. Arsenal, four points behind the Merseysiders, could slash the gap to one against West Ham tomorrow.

Saints were plunged into chaos by the sacking of boss Nigel Adkins on Friday but almost scored when Lambert beat Howard with a header from a corner, only for Jelavic to throw himself in the way, and the goalkeeper recovered quickly to stop Jos Hooiveld’s follow-up volley.