Everton had wanted to banish the memories of last years’ 5-0 thrashing at the Tottenham Stadium in March. The previous five fixtures had provided 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses. Could the improved spine of the team contribute to an improved result and beat the odds?
In his pre-match comments on Premier League TV, Frank Lampard spoke about going up against Richarlison for the first time:
“He had a lot of respect for Everton, but I know that he is a hungry boy who wants to play well, wants to score goals and is unpredictable in a good way. We know the kind of player he is and the players will be aware of these threats, but they’ve got many threats in those attacking areas for us to focus on.
It’s not hard feelings. I said that in the pregame buildup, Richarlison gave a lot to this club. He left on good footing and we wish him well after today.”
Everton made only one change to the team that was beaten by Manchester United last week with the midfield three of Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi. The back four was unchanged with Conor Coady next to James Tarkowski in the middle with captain Seamus Coleman and Vitaliy Mykolenko on the flanks. Jordan Pickford was between the posts for the 189th time in an Everton shirt. James Garner was also back on the bench after an impressive debut against Manchester United.
Upfront Everton had Neal Maupay starting with Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil on either side of him. The inclusion of McNeil was forced after Anthony Gordon picked up his fifth yellow card last week and was suspended for this game. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was back on the bench but was likely to be brought on to continue his buildup of match fitness after getting 18 minutes last week. Abdoulaye Doucoure was back after missing out last week because of a family issue.
With Kulusevski being struck down by another injury at the end of the week, the front three of Kane, Son and Richarlison kept their places.
Everton started with a 5-3-2 formation at the start of the match which we had used in the first four games. Kane had the first chance of the match with a flick on from a corner in the 5th minute and Richarlison went close shortly after. Everton struggled to get a touch on the ball in the opening 10 minutes.
The battle between Gueye and Onana vs Hojberg and Bentancur was front and centre in the middle of the field and Everton’s first chance led from Gueye winning a midfield battle. Gray spun away from Bentancur and took off cutting in off the wing and putting the ball well over the bar. Coleman had a chance after some patient buildup. The resulting corner saw McNeil swing the ball in and Tarkowski head over the bar. Pickford was called into action with Kane bearing down on his goal. The quick thinking allowed Pickford to block the attempt and snuff out the danger.
As the half was winding down, Amadou Onana found himself one on one with Loris and fizzed the ball over the bar. A second chance that should have been put away. He did make a great save with his head in the last minute of the half. However, the half ended with Richarlison shooting over the bar after a great pass from Harry Kane. At the break, Lampard had to be the happier of the two managers.
The second half started similar to the first 45 minutes with Spurs dominating possession. Richarlison’s day was cut short after he strained his left calf and he was replaced by Yves Bissouma. This substitution resulted in Tottenham switching to a 3-5-2 formation. The biggest chance for Spurs came shortly after with Harry Kane absolutely blasting a shot that was well stopped by Pickford.
The deadlocked was broken on 58 minutes after Pickford spilled the ball and in his attempt to get the ball back he tripped Kane and a penalty was awarded. Pickford went the right way but Kane’s power was just too much.
Everton responded by attempting to take the game to Tottenham. Shortly after the goal, Maupay and Coleman gave way for Calvert-Lewin and Garner. Iwobi and McNeil moved into wing back roles. The substitutions gave Everton a better target up front and Calvert Lewin almost immediately had an opportunity from an Onana cross.
Everton took off Idrissa Gaye and brought on Salomon Rondon to add another target up top. Tottenham were sitting back and allowed Everton to have more of the ball. The game was put to bed when Kane held up the ball, Bentancur overlapped and delivered the ball to Hojberg who controlled it with his chest and curled the ball into the corner of the net. It should be said that the shot took an unfortunate deflection off Alex Iwobi which put the shot out of the reach of Pickford.
The game drifted to a conclusion with chances few and far between and several substitutions. What could have been if those first half chances were taken.
Everton set up with five at the back and this change of system caused Tottenham to have very few chances in the first half. Tottenham normally play on the counter attack but Everton were happy to let Spurs have the ball. The players were patient and it was Everton who counter attacked throughout the first half. The success of the system in the first half was the level of concentration and how well the team kept their shape. Once the goal was conceded, there should have been a more immediate response so that more pressure was placed on the Spurs goal. Unfortunately, that never happened. No shots on goal in the game and there last attempt on goal came in the 43rd minute.
Amadou Onana had another strong game after doing an excellent job last week against United’s Casemiro. Today he was up against Hojberg in the first half and went one on one with Yves Bissouma who took control of the midfield after coming on early in the second half. Some well timed tackles and his willingness to venture forward has been one of the highlights of the season.
Pickford was riled up from the start of this game. He tends to have these games every once in a while and it is not good for the team. He has been great for us but the first goal did not have to happen. What should not happen is the vitriol that is directed his way on social media.
Two losses on the trot mean that there will be a few days of doom and gloom. The team is better than it has been for a while and we should remember this but we have to respond when we head to Newcastle on Wednesday. A massive game and the beginning of a run of games that includes Palace, Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth before the World Cup.
Lampard’s comments to Premier League TV:
“We weren’t able to take advantage of the moment. In the first half we were really disciplined and didn’t give spurs the spaces they want so they were limited threat. Probably the biggest threat was set pieces in the first half but we defended well. We had two great chances and we know they can be the difference in these games. If you take one of those chances I believe take one or so the way the game was going we probably don’t lose tonight. There’s no doubt that we came out the second-half slightly off it and allowed him to get a bit of momentum and then a penalty is the difference in the game. I know they scored late on with a deflected goal but until that point I thought everything was really good.”
Decision different, because of the badge. pic.twitter.com/4YoFdqOV2d— Everton Extra (@Everton_Extra) October 15, 2022