Tottenham Hotspur let in a stupid early goal, scrapped back to equalize in the second period, and scraped a 1-1 draw with Everton today at Goodison Park on the opening day of the Premier League. Ross Barkley scored for Everton on a ridiculous free kick, and Erik Lamela headed home the equalizer in the second half for Spurs.
Tottenham started the match with the predicted lineup, identical to the end of last season but with Victor Wanyama coming for the suspended Mousa Dembele in the pivot. Everton, who were without new signing Ashley Williams and also the injured Romelu Lukaku, started Gerard Deulofeu up top as a center forward/false nine, and played with three centerbacks.
Everton’s defensive lineup threw Tottenham for a loop almost from the opening kick as they packed men behind the ball and tried to counterattack on the break. Spurs did decent enough in dealing with the breaks most of the time during the half, but got very little going over the course of the half offensively. Everton seemed to work very hard to press the heck out of Spurs when they crossed the halfway line while letting them build from the back as normal.
Everton’s first half goal was incredibly dumb and it came in just the sixth minute: Ross Barkley had a free kick from a ways outside the box that went over the heads of everyone. Hugo Lloris, who was expecting a deflection or a header, didn’t track the ball and it took a bounce and went past him into the goal.
That goal had some major consequences for Spurs: later in the half, Lloris was substituted out for Michel Vorm. The sub seemed to come out of nowhere, but the supposition was that Hugo might have injured himself when he collided with the post on Barkley’s goal.
Vorm did have one good moment when he came out to block a breakaway goal by Gerard Deulofeu that would have put Spurs in a serious hole.
Spurs had a couple of shots over the course of the half but none of them proved to be much of a problem for Everton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, and the Toffees carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.
Spurs, as expected, made no changes at halftime, and the first half started much the same way as the second, with Spurs dealing with Everton’s counters but not managing much on offense.
Pochettino made his second sub midway through the half, bringing Vincent Janssen for his Spurs debut, replacing Eric Dier. It was a questionable sub, but it worked: Spurs looked better from the moment he came in and started to actually make things happen.
Spurs equalized against the run of play in the 60th minute. Kyle Walker put a wonderful lobbed cross into the box (off a “hockey assist” from Toby Alderweireld), and Erik Lamela was at the right place to head the ball past Stekelenburg. After the goal, Spurs started pressing their advantage as they chased a match winner.
That winner nearly came in the 80th minute: Vincent Janssen latched on to a ball after a scrum in the box and poked it towards goal, but Stekelenburg was there to barely palm it away. It was Spurs’ best chance of the game and they were unlucky not to score.
Christian Eriksen had a free kick just outside the box skim the top of the net, and Spurs had another shot on goal that was nicely saved by Stekelenburg, but they couldn’t get the game winning goal. The final score was 1-1.
- Spurs were pretty awful in the first half, but in fairness, I don’t think they expected Everton to come out with a back three. If they had I’d like to think that Poche would’ve made a different lineup choice than to play with two defensive midfielders in the pivot.
- On the goal: clown shoes all around, but I’m not singling anyone out. Spurs’ defense should’ve gotten a head or body part on Barkley’s goal, and I don’t really blame Hugo for expecting a deflection and not tracking the ball. But wow, was that derpy.
- I’m extremely worried about Hugo, though. The announcers said that he had a hamstring injury, which is all kinds of not good. Vorm was fine, but I don’t like him as our regular starter.
- Wanyama was in the Dembele role but he was no Dembele. His touches were heavy, he was not passing well, and he wasn’t nearly progressive enough to break down Everton’s bunkered defense. He’s strong, but it was a somewhat disappointing debut for Spurs’ new signing.
- I confess, I was highly skeptical of the Janssen for Dier substitution, but it seemed to work. Janssen holds the ball up very well, and Spurs were notably better after he came on, even without Dier’s ability to break up play. Janssen really should’ve scored in the box, but it’s hard to put too much blame on him. He did well today.
- Despite the goal, I was a little disappointed with Lamela’s passing today. Think he’s still a little rusty. And Dele Alli was not at all sharp, though he probably was Spurs’ best offensive player in the first half (not saying much).
- Full credit to Everton: they had a tactical plan that Pochettino wasn’t prepared for, they came out looking sharp (despite being “at 70%”), and they frustrated Spurs to no end. They didn’t generate a lot of offense, but they had fast runners that produced some scary moments on counters. Everton should be pleased with the result.
- Harry Kane was anonymous today, and that’s mostly down to Everton doing a nice job against him. Not worried.
- A frustrating result on many levels, but an opening day point away to Everton is not, in a vacuum, a poor result. Everton look like they could be tactically astute, but extremely boring, and based on this match they’re going to frustrate a heck of a lot more teams than just Tottenham.