Rafa Benitez made a couple of changes to his lineup with Fabian Delph and Anthony Gordon both starting. The Blues started off in a 4-5-1 with Delph joining Allan and Andros Townsend in the middle, Demarai Gray on the left and youngster Gordon on the right.
The first quarter of the game was evenly-paced as the two sides looked to get the measure of the other. There were early bookings for Sergio Reguilon and Fabian Delph as neither side shirked in the tackling department.
Lack of composure in the final third was the Toffees’ undoing though, as they were unable to sustain any possession in the Spurs box against their 3-4-3 formation and both sides went into the dressing room at 0-0 at the half.
The second half started with much of the same but it was Spurs who looked like they were on the front foot, keeping the ball in the Blues’ half but Benitez’s side remained disciplined keeping the action in front of them.
Things really got cooking in the last half hour though, with Hugo Lloris and Richarlison coming together for a long ball into the box. Referee Chris Kavanagh initially called penalty, but upon VAR review decided that the goalie had gotten a fingertip to the ball before the Brazilian got to it.
That got the home crowd roaring and the Blues were revitalized, pushing forward in numbers as Spurs were satisfied to sit back and hit the home side on the break. There were no real chances after that with both sides struggling to match the crowd’s intensity.
However, it was late on when the drama peaked here. Everton did well to cut out a couple of quick Tottenham counters, and then Kavanagh controversially chose to send off Mason Holgate who had just come on for Allan in a midfield role. The Everton player had followed through his clearance with his studs up and caught Hojbjerg, but somehow getting the ball first was okay for Lloris to not concede a penalty, but was enough for Holgate to be sent off. Strange.
Benitez using Townsend as a #10 was an interesting wrinkle in this game. With Allan and Fabian Delph shielding the defence, the Blues looked stronger in the middle than they have in recent weeks.
Richarlison as a like-for-like substitute for Dominic Calvert-Lewin doesn’t quite work. He does not have the aerial presence or ability to play with his back to the goal of the England striker.
Gordon getting a full ninety minutes or so under his belt will do the youngster’s confidence a lot of good. He had a good game overall, showed that he could match up both in terms of skill and physicality.