A serious injury to Andre Gomes overshadowed Everton’s scrappy draw with Tottenham, but the video assistant referee still managed to prompt debate.
The match contained three penalty shouts – two for Everton and one for Spurs – with VAR checks causing considerable delay only for none to be awarded by referee Martin Atkinson.
However, it was the incident which saw Gomes carried off on a stretcher which caused the most criticism.
Son Heung-min was sent off by Atkinson after a mistimed tackle caught the Portuguese midfielder. It was certainly a foul but Atkinson’s actions confused matters, with a yellow card swapped for a red one when the seriousness of Gomes’s injury became apparent.
The Premier League said in a statement that Son was dismissed for “endangering the safety of a player,” a ruling which only served to muddy the waters.
It was a contest desperately lacking in quality at Goodison Park, with both sides struggling to string together meaningful sequences of play.
Chief perpetrator of the sloppiness was Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen. The Danish midfielder put in yet another ineffective and lacklustre performance which failed to show why Mauricio Pochettino retains faith in him.
Summer signing Giovani Lo Celso watched from the bench as Eriksen failed to create a chance for the third successive Premier League game.
Eriksen made no secret of his desire to leave north London in the summer and many fans must now be wishing he had.
Although the uninspiring display left them 11th in the top flight, there was one positive for Spurs. Dele Alli has been slow to find his feet this season after injury but there are signs he is settling down.
It was the England midfielder’s goal which secured a point amid the discontent of the 1-1 draw with Watford last month and he doubled his tally for the season, confidently cutting inside Mason Holgate and finding the bottom corner after Alex Iwobi gifted Tottenham possession.
There’s a long way to go but having a fit and firing Alli back could prove a big boost for struggling Spurs.
Things are even bleaker for Everton, who are in 17th place and now without their best midfielder for the foreseeable future.
The Toffees had much the better of the game, but struggled to fashion anything more than half-chances, which Richarlison tried to make the most of.
It wasn’t until the seventh minute of 12 added-on minutes that left-back Lucas Digne produced a moment of quality, cushioning a beautiful volleyed cross for substitute Cenk Tosun to head in.
Digne’s third assist of the season leaves him level with Richarlison as Everton’s most creative player. Meanwhile, Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott, Bernard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have managed just two between them.
Pressure on Silva
Marco Silva is primarily concerned with the well-being of Gomes for now, but the result piled more pressure on the Portuguese manager.
Everton have shown few signs of progression since he arrived in May 2018, despite considerable investment in the squad.
With struggling Southampton to play next, and then Norwich after the international break, the Toffees hierarchy might hold off on sacking Silva for the time being, but he’s on thin ice.
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