Everton slipped to a 2-0 defeat away at Tottenham yesterday with the hosts scoring twice in the second half to secure all three points. For the Toffees, this was a second straight lacklustre performance especially in the attacking half, taking only four shots and not hitting the target with a single one.
Midway through the first half Demarai Gray missed an excellent opportunity to put the Blues ahead when he shot over from a counter attack, and Frank Lampard rued that lost opportunity. It got worse from there as at about the hour mark Jordan Pickford spilled a shot and in his attempt to recover the ball Harry Kane went over the back of the player for a penalty.
“The feeling we would have had at half-time in the lead would have been different for us and the manner of the goals... of course every goal you concede is disappointing but Jordan’s an amazing goalkeeper for us so the circumstances of the first goal is what it is and the second one is when we’re pushing to get back into the game to an extent. We were very competitive in the game in the way we played and on another day we take our chances and I think it looks different.
“It’s a reality when you’re one on one on goal but I’m not going to stand here and criticise the players too much to go through and miss a chance. Sometimes the cool head of being there regularly and seeing and feeling it makes you more clinical in those moments, look at Harry Kane, he’s been doing it for years.
“You sometimes see the differences in these games, coming to a Champions League club, when you miss them, they take theirs and sometimes that’s the reality of where we’re at and we want to get to that level where we are more clinical and sometimes on evenings it doesn’t work that way.”
After seeing their six-game unbeaten streak ended last weekend, Lampard was questioned if the Blues had lost all the progress they had been making earlier this season, but he referenced how awful his side had been in the same fixture last season.
“When you progress as a team, and certainly the way I am, it’s still the feeling of a loss. In the cold light of day, we can say that we can come here and do a job and can change a formation and have players that can go through the game plan with more consistency. I think we’re there so what’s the next step, to maybe take those chances and start the second half better than what we did today?
“That wasn’t a nice night here last season but that’s long gone and we’ve still come away with no points out of the game. I think we can reflect a little bit but there are things we can tidy up and get better at, that will always be the case.
“I think in reality you can come to Tottenham and lose, it’s a Champions League team who are really strong, but what’s important is that we’re training with consistency and momentum and pick up points going forward and win games that we should be stronger in and show that we’re a stronger team.”
Pressed for more detail, Lampard added -
“I haven’t drawn the line between those two games to connect them because I know what [squad] we went into that game with. It was a tough moment for us with people that were ill that were playing and I didn’t have the players to change the formation like I did today. It’s when you can’t play with a back five to match up away to stop Tottenham getting the spaces they want.. it was a really difficult night.
“It’s so long gone that now we are in a better position that we can compete at that level. I don’t want to think backwards, I want to think forwards and what today means for us and it’s an opportunity that we could have come here and got something and we didn’t.
After a number of games with a 4-3-3, Lampard switched it up to a 3-5-2 for Demarai Gray to come up alongside Neal Maupay upfront while Dwight McNeil stepped in for the suspended Anthony Gordon.
“Dwight played mainly as a wing-back with the opportunity to go further forward. I thought the balance, with Seamus on the other side, felt good in the first half. I thought we did the job well, with good application.
“If we take one of those chances, we probably don’t lose tonight. I think if we score, that gives us the confidence at half-time to continue with the game plan…then Tottenham have to open up and the fans can get agitated.”
The Blues have struggled on the road and Lampard again talked about the confidence opening the scoring would have done his side.
“The opportunities were a huge factor in the game, because other elements in the match between the sides were quite tight. We had two good chances, and you have to take those chances because they change the feeling of the game.
“There’s no doubt we came out in the second half slightly off it and allowed them to have some momentum. The penalty is the difference in the game. I thought until then everything we were doing was good. Generally, throughout the team, I think there are small differences that make Tottenham where they are and us where we are.
“They’re in the Champions League and we’re trying to move up the table. Maybe there are some signs for me as a coach and as a team for where we can improve. That’s the work now [for us to do] – can we find consistency, be a little bit crisper and make better decisions?
“Maybe those things come with time, but we have to get ready for a game on Wednesday.”