Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 2 Everton
High hopes were dashed at White Hart Lane in what was a sobering reality check really for Everton and the notion that they could yet sneak into the top four.
Stuck in seventh for weeks now, the Blues have been frustrated by Manchester United’s 17-match unbeaten which has kept them continually at arm’s length while the teams between the Red Devils and Chelsea have taken turns to slip without any one of them truly melting down… yet.
United’s 1-1 draw at home to Bournemouth and Arsenal’s threatening implosion following another defeat, this time at Liverpool, set the table nicely for Ronald Koeman’s side to make up ground with a win over Spurs but it proved the be fanciful in the end because the North Londoners were too strong and Everton’s rearguard faltered.
The game was billed by Evertonians as an opportunity to see how far the Blues have come since the draw with Spurs on the opening day and by the end the answer was fairly definitive, even if the final score didn't underline the size of the gulf that exists between second place and seventh.
The epitome of strength, Tottenham were superior in almost all departments on the day and they could have been three up by half time after Harry Kane had hammered them into a 20th minute lead, Joel Robles had foiled the England striker on the next attack, and Victor Wanyama had seen a shot bounce back off the upright.
Everton, meanwhile, failed to register a shot on target in the first period, a symptom of the home side’s relentless pressing, Koeman’s decision to pack the midfield in an attempt to limit Spurs’s ability to play through them, and Romelu Lukaku’s subsequent isolation. As a tactic it had merits, even if there was an argument for bringing back the central defensive three that was so successful against the likes of Manchester City, but it was undermined by the selection of the one-paced Gareth Barry ahead of James McCarthy.
The veteran looked all of his 36 years shoe-horned in alongside Morgan Schneiderlin, Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye and McCarthy’s comparative energy after he finally replaced Barry in the second half merely served to strengthen the argument that the latter’s days as a starter are behind him.
Nevertheless, having set up to defend and contain, it behooved Everton to be flawless in both respects but they let themselves down critically for all three of Tottenham’s goals. They were undone for the first when Gueye gave up on tracking Kane and Barry backed off as the England striker turned and advanced towards the visitors’ penalty area. Kane accepted the invitation to line up a shot and, benefitting from Robles’s slow reactions, he found the corner of the goal from almost 30 yards out.
The second came from suicidal play at the back from a team that had, ironically, been by far the more direct of the two. If there’s a given about Spurs (apart from Kane’s ability to conjure a goal out of nowhere) it’s that they press feverishly high up the pitch so when Robles elected to roll the ball to Schneiderlin in a central position outside his own area, it was asking for trouble. Moussa Dembele and Dele Alli collapsed around the Frenchman and when his attempt to knock the ball to Ashley Williams rebounded off the latter and into the path of Kane, there was only going to be one result.
Koeman’s belated changes brought Kevin Mirallas and McCarthy into the fray in place of Tom Davies and Barry and the Blues began to enjoy arguably their best spell of the game. Mirallas had a shot charged down by Ross Barkley — as the indefatigable heart of the Everton side, the 23-year-old that never stopped wanting the ball in a desperate attempt to engineer a way for the Blues back into the game — soon after he was introduced but it wasn’t until 10 minutes from time that Everton finally made a breakthrough.
Mirallas picked out Lukaku in a central area with a great ball from the flank and when Jan Vergtonghen lost his balance in front of him, the Belgian striker seized the chance to advance and cut an unerring shot into the far corner past Hugo Lloris’s glove.
Another error from the erratic Ramiro Funes Mori almost let Kane in for his hat-trick but Robles read his attempt to clip the ball over him well and made the save 10 minutes before more calamity in Everton’s defence allowed Alli to plunder Tottenham’s third in stoppage time. Harry Winks dinked a quick free kick into space between the static Leighton Baines and Schneiderlin and Alli just had to help it on its way past Robles.
There was still time for one more consolation for Everton as Barkley swung a free kick into the box and Enner Valencia, an 81st-minute substitute for Gueye, swept home an impressive first-time finish but there wasn’t enough time for a dramatic equaliser.
On balance, Everton didn’t deserve anything from the match and yet they could have got something with better defending. That, in essence, is life in the Premier League — a lead can quickly be erased but you have to be your best defensively to remain in with a chance of snatching something at the end.
While he didn’t show it on camera afterwards, Koeman should be fuming at the manner in which his players gift-wrapped goals for their hosts but he will also be mindful that this was his charges’ first League defeat for well over two months. If nothing else, he is continuing to learn where the weak spots reside in his team and that will be very valuable in itself in the context of planning for next season.
Reader Comments (40)
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1 Posted 06/03/2017 at 06:56:58
It is obvious that all the other wide players currently in the first team squad and out on loan do not rock the manager's boat. Rooney's return is not a priority given the current form of Ross.
Short term, Davies might need a break and Barry's decline is starting to mirror the previous declines of Distin, Howard and Jags. All great servants of the club.
The manager also needs to sort out his central midfield, does he know his best three from the five currently available to him?
2 Posted 06/03/2017 at 07:02:33
Yesterday was not the players or Koeman's best game. Instead of bemoaning mistakes, however, I do think that the lessons to be learned will be highlighted and worked on.
Spurs are three or four years ahead of us in terms of what both clubs have been trying to do. They have been spending more on players, have been recruiting proper managers and are working on their new stadium. They are the model for the club right now and this should be part of the learning curve, both for this season and yesterday's game.
3 Posted 06/03/2017 at 07:37:10
"High hopes of top four" are premature, resulting in the anger at Koeman. "They build them up to knock them down" an old but true saying. Very difficult to go from two 11th finishes to top 4 in one season.
As we concurred before the game Spurs are a formidable side at home, the epitome of strength sums their game up.
4 Posted 06/03/2017 at 07:57:44
Sign high quality footballing quick players in those positions and the team will be transformed. I'm sure Steve Walsh has players in mind already.
Throughout the run we have had it has been obvious to me that these are the problem positions.
5 Posted 06/03/2017 at 08:12:36
The same tempo that Everton play at home is not there when they play away. Spurs are just another home team that found Everton out, even though all Spurs 3 goals were gifted as early Christmas presents.
6 Posted 06/03/2017 at 08:27:56
Hopefully the reality check may have come in time to raise the defensive awareness in time for the forthcoming annual visit across the park.
Lack of care, professionalism, poor communication within the goalkeeper and defense, poor anticipation, crossing etc. Yep hopefully that's the last stinker for the season.
Time to bounce back starting at Goodison on Saturday.
7 Posted 06/03/2017 at 09:15:44
Jamie Redknap was saying that he interviewed Ross last week and his feeling was that Ross would leave the club when his contract ran out in 18 month's time. IMHO he will have his choice of sides to go to because, despite what his knockers would say, he is shaping up to be as good as any midfielder in the game. They will also pay whatever it needs to get him but, like the case with Lukaku, no amount can replace him.
Unless we can unearth gems of the quality of Dembele and Alli, then the loss of our two best players would stop any hope of us making the breakthrough that we need.
I worry about Koeman too; for me, yesterday was a big black mark for him in terms of selection and tactics. We aren't as bad as we looked yesterday although a few players showed that they are out of their comfort zone against a side of the quality of this Spurs side.
I can see similar defeats coming against Man Utd and Liverpool.
8 Posted 06/03/2017 at 10:08:32
Ashley Williams was awful yesterday. We still need a world class goalkeeper. Robles has done great in this calendar year but a top goalkeeper would have saved Kane's first goal. I'm not too down after that defeat. West Brom lost which meant we still have a 4 point cushion, in 7th place, with them up next.
Let's be honest, Everton probably are the 7th best team in the division and it represents progress on the past two seasons. I can't see us finishing any higher unless Arsenal completely implode.
9 Posted 06/03/2017 at 10:47:36
10 Posted 06/03/2017 at 10:59:39
There's still a lot of surgery for Koeman to contemplate in the summer and then the Jury will be in for next season's assault on the top 6.
11 Posted 06/03/2017 at 11:03:42
Spurs have won their last 9 home games now, which is a hell of a record, and I didn't think we were in a position to challenge that.
Robles should have done better for their first goal but I thought he did quite well besides that, though his ball out to Schneiderlin was probably a bit risky as he should have saw who high Spurs were pressing up the pitch.
At least those on here so far are not over-reacting like we normally do after a loss. It's our first defeat of 2017 in the league and it's a huge bonus that Palace shocked West Brom with a 0-2 defeat which gives us some breathing space. Should we beat them at home next it will leave 7 between us.
Pity Man Utd didn't beat Bournemouth as they had a chance to pass out the RS with a game in hand.
12 Posted 06/03/2017 at 11:24:21
Although Spurs are more consistent they have had bad days against Ghent and Liverpool, the question is how quick do they recover from a defeat. So I am sure Koeman will be looking for a response on Saturday; I don't think we will set up defensively in this game as we did against Spurs.
As bad as we played the 2 that they scored was from our mistakes, and yes they could and probably should have scored more, but they didn't.
As they say you learn more from 1 defeat than 10 victories, I am sure Koeman wont be as negative in our remaining away games to other top 6 opponents, at least I hope not. We have tried this tactic for the last decade or longer and it has not produced the desired outcome.
13 Posted 06/03/2017 at 12:31:38
I hope the board are impatient and therefore willing to spend money on the quality recruits that are needed to bridge the gap.
14 Posted 06/03/2017 at 12:32:07
I believe he needs to go back to playing a natural wide man in away games, it's just too congested with too many central midfielders stuck in there.
The big difference between us and Tottenham was well pointed out on Match of the Day by Jermain Jenas: Spurs always had men in and around Harry Kane constantly supporting him and hunting in packs like wolves, whereas we are too passive it's just Barkley the furthest midfielder to Lukaku but still 20 yards at least away from him trying to find him with passes but it's impossible if you are Lukaku playing four top quality defenders against you with little or no support. Tom Davies looked lost as to what position he was meant to be in.
We are crying out for a player in the ilk of Cahill, Naismith, or Fellaini, a nuisance factor that distracts defenders and supports his striker and of course we are in need of a creative tricky midfielder that sees a pass, we've not had one since the day's of Arteta or even Pienaar in his best years.
15 Posted 06/03/2017 at 12:44:15
I have been saying for while when Valencia comes on in games we seem a much more balanced team and tend to create more. I think it helps Lukaku as Valencia likes to come inside and play close to Lukaku.
Now just imagine if we had followed through with our interest in Gabbiadini, with what he is producing at Southampton. Imagine him playing ahead or just behind Lukaku. I just hope in the summer we purchase someone like him and play him just off Lukaku.
16 Posted 06/03/2017 at 13:52:10
I've got to agree with you regarding an extra forward to play upfront with Lukaku. Last week versus Sunderland, Lukaku was having an indifferent game but, in the last 20minutes, after Valencia came on Lukaku had his best spell in the match. Alone yesterday,he was fighting a losing battle, after McCarthy and Mirallas came on, we were more attack-minded and even more so when Valencia joined the attack.
Valencia hasn't had a real chance to show if he is good enough, but we definitely need another forward... two when Valencia goes back to WHU and Lukaku eventually leaves.
Hopefully Koeman will learn from Saturday's woeful performance and won't play with such a negative attitude in the future games, home and away.
17 Posted 06/03/2017 at 13:53:39
I also agree with Brian (#15) about Gabbiadini. God only knows why we did not sign him. We messed about with Belfodil instead of going for Gabbi who is a proven goal scorer at the top level. He and Lukaku would be a formidable duo up front and Rom would revel in the extra space that Gabbi provides by his running off the ball.
Lukaku has never had 'proper' support and has still scored 18 goals without taking penalties. It is so frustrating as a fan who can see that the big man is ploughing a lone furrow.
I also agree that Ross is playing better but he does not score goals and that is calamitous. Mirallas is another who is not scoring but he is being used less. Koeman set our side up to draw the match or to pinch a shock win in the 2nd half.It seems to be conceded that Spurs are superior and to my mind it is the best Spurs side for decades. Kane is playing with terrific support and he is certainly not the only danger up front.
That is our blatant weakness IMO. We need a big centre back who is commanding and good in the air. We need a player with guile in midfield and a second striker to play with and cover Lukaku if needed.
If Lukaku leaves us, we will be taking a huge backward step in the teams progress. Moshiri and the board must dig deep if we are to hang on to Lukaku and bring in the three or four players who can lift us to the top tier of the Premier League.
18 Posted 06/03/2017 at 14:03:56
However, the defeat was frustrating, because on the face of it, it arose from a tactical mistake by Koeman, not an isolated mistake, but a mistake that's been made before. A mistake that was predictable.
If it were an isolated mistake, that would be fine, because we all make mistakes, but it wasn't, so it's not fine. I hope he doesn't do it again, especially at Anfield, and if he does I'll be very concerned about his tactical judgement.
We need to approach every game to win. In other words, we need a winning mentality, where it's second nature to go out to win. Of course, that mentality doesn't guarantee a win, but increases the chances of achieving it. If we go out like yesterday trying to contain, I believe that's a recipe for mediocrity.
As a supporter, I find it unacceptable if we don't try to win every game, with the tactics and team selection needed to maximise our chances of achieving that.
19 Posted 06/03/2017 at 14:55:31
20 Posted 06/03/2017 at 15:06:01
Koeman had the bottle to play two strikers at home to Arsenal in December and the outcome was a win.
I've said for years now, going right back to the start of the David Moyes era, it's annoyed me that we seem to stick rigidly with this lone striker system; it's something that worked well when the personnel was different years ago when we had more varied midfielders like Cahill, Arteta, Fellaini but, when your playing with basically all central midfielders none of which stand out and smack you in the face with creativity or guts to push on and try and give the opposition defence a hard time, couple that with no width like yesterday, then it's going to stagnate your offensive opportunities.
Koeman needs to decide what his best system is for away games, because at Middlesbrough, Stoke, even Palace before yesterday, we just haven't looked very coherent.
21 Posted 06/03/2017 at 15:13:05
Ronald was made to rue the comment he made about us being much better defensively than Stoke as we conceded 3 "joke" goals.
22 Posted 06/03/2017 at 16:25:53
The fact that there is a big difference in our away results compared to our home results is, to me, a sign of a systematic problem in Koeman's approach. That is, he's being too containing, too defensive, away from home, and ultimately it's counter productive.
As I said before, he needs to set us up to aim to win regardless of whether we're home or away. His away tactics are suicidal against good teams, especially high-pressing sides, which is ironic given how much he wants high intensity pressing from the players. But high intensity pressing without the proper game plan is like climbing up a muddy slope, there's always a good chance you'll come a cropper and slide down.
23 Posted 06/03/2017 at 16:38:13
Spurs's second goal was just a mess all round or a result of high intensity pressure which a team of young athletic-focused players can produce against anyone.
They beat Chelsea and Man City at home and drew with the RS when the RS were running hot at the start of the season.
24 Posted 06/03/2017 at 16:41:42
Can Koeman improve this squad enough to take us above 'Moyes Territory'? I doubt it. But looking ahead, we might get lucky with one or two summer additions and make a serious play for the Europa Leaue spot next season.
Then, it's always next season, isn't it ?
25 Posted 06/03/2017 at 16:53:25
We were always a yard further away from the ball than Spurs. I noted also that Spurs were constantly trying to "get in our face", not unlike the RS against Arsenal. We need to be more aggressive not dirty!
26 Posted 06/03/2017 at 17:20:03
Holgate had a bad night at Stoke, covering for the other two and has been binned ever since. We now play one centre back who appears too slow and one who is fast but with a foot like a 50p piece.
Back in August, with a '70% fit' team, we tore into Spurs and made them look ordinary, before tiring after an hour. Why couldn't we do that yesterday?
Maybe Koeman doesn't trust the players enough. Maybe he thinks we can beat most teams and go for damage limitation against the top six? Maybe, as Phil W says, he thinks he'll get lucky in the summer with some significant additions?
I'm torn here. I don't think these players, especially 'the established ones', have the stomach and mentality (and possibly the skill) to consistently produce under pressure when they're really tested. I'm also wondering whether Koeman is too pragmatic for his own good.
I still think it's too early to judge. I looked at both teams before kick off and thought that, man for man, they were better than us. Maybe Gana would get in their team, not sure about anyone else. The tactics were wrong, but I'm not convinced that led us to give the ball away as often as we did.
Good that they are, Spurs also choke whenever they get close to success and when they're in Europe. Christ, maybe that's two levels we have to climb!
27 Posted 06/03/2017 at 19:26:23
I thought Koeman was beginning to turn the mentality around but yesterday was a backward step in team selection, tactics and energy levels.
28 Posted 06/03/2017 at 20:06:51
This is unlikely but sometimes I feel that we play as though we have an endemic problem that precludes us from playing well against the better teams away. The nightmare of the RedShite maintaining their total domination over us.
It may well be that the only solution to this problem is to clear out all of the dead wood from the previous failed regimes. That is to have a team that is Ron's team completely so that the virus of these terrible performances is removed. We have no worries for this season so why not clear out the defence with some of the academy defenders that we have seen do so well; stop picking Barry under any circumstances now.
Ron needs to be positive and never repeat the capitulation he manufactured Saturday. Far better we try to win than try not to lose, the former is the positivity we need and the latter totally negative. We know we can be devastating on our day so play to our strengths not to our weakness which is our defence.
I don't think the failure scenario will happen but it could, Saturday wasn't the end of the world but alarm bells should be ringing quietly.
Dare I say that the endemic problem, the virus that affects us, can only be excised by clearing out the CEO. Kenwright has done a good job in survival mode but it's done now. Success is a top down process and I believe that, for the project to work, Kenwright needs to step down with our best wishes. He isn't the man to drive a top club.
29 Posted 06/03/2017 at 21:15:54
The thought of Europe, is surely just a pipe dream, or a nightmare, as any pacy, skillful team must eventually get through us – especially with our current statues at the back.
Dead ball play, ie, corners, free kicks are just plain embarrassing and makes me wonder what is attempted continuously at Finch Farm, weekly? Without our big goal scoring forward playing, who would take on his responsibilities – Kone, Valencia or who – we would struggle scoring – surely??
As previously mentioned, we can beat the no-marks, but against real teams, we go missing; one just wonders what to expect from our annual visit to the RS – with our scouserless "just another game" mentality that has unfortunately been dealt out for decades – IMO.
30 Posted 06/03/2017 at 21:20:24
1. Kane should have been closed down. Terrific shot but, on another day, Robles might have got to it.
2. Why, oh why did Robles roll that ball out? Why, oh why did Schniderlin not pass it straight back to him?
3. Everyone watching could see what was happening, apart from the Blues defence.
A bit of a stretch I know, but, despite getting the run-around we could have come away with some sort of a result!!!
31 Posted 06/03/2017 at 00:14:05
He organised them in a way that potentially drained the players of any confidence victory was achievable. He paid far too much attention to the opposition's strengths, rather than his own players.
When I saw Barry, I wondered if Macca's hamstring or whatever it is he injured can't last a whole 90 minutes. If he was 100% fit, then it is outrageous Gareth started before James. I doubt any Everton fan would agree starting Barry for Macca.
As has been said, defeat at WHL etc. No great shame. It was the tactics and performance that really disappointed and if Ronald was the truth-sayer he's held up to be, he could have said so in his post match interview. "Ahh, well, okay. My tactics were shit." Of course, I have never heard any manager do that. I would guess and hope he knows it himself, though.
He has in the right direction, but he fucked up with his build-up to this game, methinks.
32 Posted 07/03/2017 at 01:02:03
33 Posted 07/03/2017 at 16:27:33
I don't recall seeing him on camera at WHL; although I think he was shown alongside Woods in his customary Director's Box seat for the Sunderland game.
34 Posted 08/03/2017 at 13:31:38
35 Posted 08/03/2017 at 21:51:58
We did it twice against Spurs and we're lucky to come away with a solitary point. I just can not understand why managers continue to send their teams out in that fashion. Play to win. Honestly PSG should sack that manager before he even gets to leave the stadium, tell him don't even bother coming back to Paris. I would also hope that finally clicks into Koeman's head.
36 Posted 08/03/2017 at 22:00:15
"Congratulations to @FCBarcelona! They punished the fear of #Paris."
I wonder if he sees the irony in how we set up to play this past weekend though? Might want to look in the mirror there, Ronald.
37 Posted 08/03/2017 at 22:03:55
38 Posted 08/03/2017 at 22:14:50
39 Posted 09/03/2017 at 21:08:40
40 Posted 12/03/2017 at 22:28:11
Keeping the top players will be the problem with a new stadium to pay for. We are moving in the right direction. It's going to take time. Summer transfers will tell us more.
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