Heading into Sunday’s game at Goodison Park, a win for Spurs would pull them farther away from Chelsea and Arsenal and within two points of Manchester City, in second. Everton, meanwhile, were looking to set themselves apart from the congested mid-table pack, where they began the day in 11th and could have finished in 7th with a win. Davinson Sanchez made his return to the Spurs XI today, playing alongside Toby Alderweireld in a back four with Kieran Trippier on the right and Ben Davies on the left. The midfield was about as close to full-strength as we’d see during a busy season, lined up in a diamond anchored by Winks, with Eriksen and Sissoko ahead of him, capped by Dele, both playing behind Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane. The Everton XI was also strong: Jordan Pickford in goal, protected by a back four of Lucas Digne, Kurt Zouma, Michael Keane, and Seamus Coleman. Ahead of them was a double pivot of Andre Gomez and Tom Davies, then an attacking three of Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Theo Walcott, capped off by Dominic Calvert-Lewin playing striker.
The contest began vigorously. Both teams pressed hard while defending and then attacked energetically when they gained possession. In the first two minutes, Davinson Sanchez announced his return with a clattering challenge on former Spurs man Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was Everton’s best player on the day. The Toffees’ ability was on show all game, but it was clear from early on that they would have a handful in managing a Spurs attack that skated past Arsenal in midweek. Everton had a few promising moments in the first ten minutes, finding decent balls within the Spurs third. Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld each did well to defend under pressure from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Theo Walcott, respectively. Spurs attacked with the composure of a team in top form, and Everton had to run hard to maintain their defensive position.
In the ninth minute, Gylfi Sigudsson upped the tempo of the match when he ran toward the top of the Spurs box and slid a ball wide for Theo Walcott, whose cross found Richarlison in space in the Spurs box. Richarlison’s header went wide, though, and the near-miss energized Spurs into a dangerous spell of possession.
The next ten minutes were all Tottenham. Spurs immediately had a threat at the other end when Kane nearly dribbled through two Everton defenders; the ball fell free to Son, who squared it to Eriksen. Nothing came of it, but within a minute Spurs had another chance when Kane got on the end of an inch-perfect long ball from Kieran Trippier. He tried to lob it over Jordan Pickford, Dele-style, but the chip didn’t fall. Just moments later, Heung-min Son pulled a ball back from touch and found Trippier, whose powerful shot was parried by Pickford. In the 18th minute, Harry Kane had a chance to open the scoring with a free kick after Dele was petulantly tripped 15 yards outside of the Everton box, but his powerful effort needed just a bit more bend to go in.
After a long spell of Spurs dominance, it was Everton who opened the scoring in the 20th minute. The move began when Harry Winks ran forward for a defensive header, only to flail too low for the ball, an error that threw the entire Spurs defense out of position. As Sanchez rushed in to defend Winksy’s man, Dominic Calvert-Lewin found space behind him and crossed to Theo Walcott. Alderweireld and Davies had been slow to cover Walcott, and he had a split-second of free time to get a shot off and beat Hugo Lloris.
Just a few minutes later, Dominic Calvert-Lewis headed in, but the goal was disallowed for a shove on Davinson Sanchez that created the space for Calvert-Lewis to accomplish the header. There will be debate about whether the shove deserved a foul or not, but there was definitely something there.
Still, Spurs needed to kick it up a notch, and they did. Heung-min Son scored in the 26th minute after Jordan Pickford, who had started the game well, made an absolute meal of a routine long-ball clearance. Kurt Zouma was chasing down an aerial pass that Harry Kane had made in the direction of Heung-min Son, and although Son was nowhere near the ball, Pickford sprinted out, colliding with Zouma and landing the ricochet at Sonny’s feet. Son was at a somewhat tight angle, and about to come under pressure, so he did well to find the empty net. It was the beginning of the end for Jordan Pickford.
The 35th minute saw Dele finish off a lovely collaborative goal. It began with Sissoko playing Son through behind Everton’s high defensive line just past midfield. Son carried the ball in and fired hard and low at Pickford, who managed to redirect the ball only as far as Dele, who applied a very professional strike to a difficult bouncing ball and hit it past Pickford.
Tottenham got their third in the 41st minute from a free kick. The foul was awarded for a strange foul: Kurt Zouma stepped on Heung-min Son’s heel and pulled his boot off just like a sock (that’s what you get for going laceless). Spurs had a free kick maybe 6 yards out from the Everton 18. Trippier had an amazing strike that went over/through the Everton wall and bounced off the post. Pickford wouldn’t have gotten there in time if the ball had been just inside the post, but the rebound fell to Harry Kane, who finished into an empty net.
The half ended somewhat acrimoniously. Dele was through on Pickford, and although the offside whistle had gone, he tried to finish. Pickford slid in with an egregious high tackle that caught Dele dangerously and seemed to cause him some pain. In hindsight, Pickford deserved a card.
Dele couldn’t continue, and Erik Lamela came on in his place. Within minutes, Christian Eriksen scored after Seamus Coleman tried to head Harry Kane’s cross clear. The header fell perfectly to Eriksen, who beat Pickford low with a powerful finish.
Sigurdsson got one back for Everton at 50 minutes after doing well to dribble away from four Spurs players near the edge of Tottenham’s box. Hugo Lloris could have done better to anticipate Sigurdsson’s strike, which rolled past his last-minute attempt to stop it.
Everton found new energy after the goal, but it wasn’t enough. The remainder of the game was defined by a back-and-forth that saw Spurs score two more and Everton wishing they had more quality. Heung-min Son was played in by Erik Lamela in the 60th minute to be one-on-one with Jordan Pickford. He rolled the ball through Pickford’s legs, summing up a forgettable day for the England keeper. Harry Kane scored his second of the game—continuing his habit of scoring braces against Everton—with a one-timer on a low cross from Heung-min Son. He is now just one goal off of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the race for the golden boot. Oliver Skipp and Lucas both got minutes at the end, coming on for Son and Sissoko, respectively, but by then, the game had been put to rest and they got touches, but didn’t distinguish themselves positively or negatively.
- Spurs are now just two points off of Man City in second, and (ambitiously) six off Liverpool in first. Could it be our year?
- Moussa Sissoko’s workrate has been top-notch.
- DESK is very good. They score when they want, and their flexibility allows them to create under just about any circumstances.
- Harry Winks needs to work on his defensive judgement.