The Toffees were truly abject during the first half against Wolves on Monday, where they were fortunate to only be 2-0 down.
They improved after the break, but the damage was done and a draw would have been harsh on Wolves given how dominant they were in the opening period.
The game marked the end of Everton’s kind start, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester lying in wait before Christmas. If they play like they have done in the last two games, it’s hard to see where the points are coming through.
We shouldn’t really be surprised at their struggles, none of the issues are knew and the result of several years’ worth of poor recruitment.
The first choice starting XI is decent and can give anyone a game, the problem is keeping them all fit. They have been unlucky as the injuries have hit key players, basically the spine of the side – Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. While Ben Godfrey’s struggles, Mason Holgate’s lack of form and Michael Keane’s crisis of confidence leaves the defence as shaky as ever.
Rafa Benitez will need to use all his experience and nous to negotiate the next few weeks, while the fans will have to dig deep into their near-exhausted reserves of patience to endure it.
We all knew this was going to be transitional year with as many downs than ups, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Couldn’t Nuno Espirito Santo have held on for one more week? The former Wolves boss never looked the right fit at Tottenham, being their fourth or fifth choice was never the best way to start, though he was also dealt a poor hand with the Harry Kane saga.
The England striker has looked a shadow of himself after his failed bid to force through a move to City (though we all know what is happening on Sunday)
It all came to an ugly end against Manchester United last week amid the boos and chants for him to go. A fifth defeat from seven Premier League games was enough to wield the axe.
Antonio Conte, who turned down the club in the summer, quickly replaced him and is expected to shake up an under-performing squad.
A chaotic 3-2 win over Vitesse in the Conference League highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the players at his disposal.
A few more high-octane training sessions from notorious taskmaster Conte in the next few days will likely leave them eager to impress at Goodison on Sunday.
Lucas Digne is back in full training and likely to return after missing Monday’s defeat at Wolves. Yerry Mina (hamstring) and Andre Gomes (calf) are still sidelined.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are still a while away from a return.
Fabian Delph is in line for a start after impressing as a second-half substitute at Molineux, as is Anthony Gordon.
Everton 2-2 Tottenham - April 16, 2021
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Harry Kane both scored twice as Everton and Tottenham played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Goodison in April
What they said
Everton manager Rafa Benitez: “When you aren’t doing so well, you have to think about how to improve things, especially the confidence and mentality,” said Benitez.
“I go back to the good things we have done.
“We started the season really well. The players showed commitment and intensity, everything the fans were expecting.
“We have to remember that and go back to our first games and what we were doing well.
“We have some injuries, some issues with players, and the Premier League is quite complicated.
“You make one mistake against a team, then the next game you lose a bit of confidence and the next game feels more difficult.
“You have to remember what you did well and try to stick with these ideas.”
Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte: “We are talking about a really good team, a strong team, and a really good manager who has won a lot in his career. The atmosphere at Goodison Park is an important atmosphere and, for sure, we have to bring a strong game and we need to prepare in the right way. We have one day, but we’ll do our best.”
To say Everton need a response is an understatement. Goodison was close to full on mutiny at the end of the Watford game - if the fans weren’t so keen to disappear to the pub.
Frustration is the byword at the moment as years of underachievement and broken promises come to a head.
That’s not Rafa’s fault of course, but he and the players will likely bear the brunt of that frustration if they start badly on Sunday.