Tottenham needed a response after a dreadful loss to Sheffield United last week. The Lilywhites didn’t produce a resounding reply, but they did clean things up at the back enough to earn a victory.
Tottenham beat Everton 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday in a game that, frankly, was quite boring. The only goal in it was an own goal from Michael Keane, and there was a significant lack of quality from both teams over the course of the 90 minutes.
But nonetheless, the three points were crucial for Spurs, who were able to push back up the table a bit after the embarrassing loss the other day.
Jose Mourinho’s starting lineup finally featured Toby Alderweireld for the first time since the Premier League restart. The veteran center back partnered Eric Dier in defense, with Davinson Sanchez dropping to the bench. Dele Alli missed out with a hamstring injury, while Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks formed a midfield partnership behind Giovani Lo Celso in a more advanced role.
A commonality between quite a few games during this resumed season has been a slow start, and this match was no different.
The only action of the first 20 minutes was a couple harmless free kicks for Spurs, and then a long-shot from Lucas Moura that was dragged wide.
Really nothing at all had happened until Tottenham opened the scoring. Harry Kane tried to move in the box, but the ball was deflected to Lo Celso. The Argentinian spun around and fired a shot that went off Keane and past a helpless Jordan Pickford.
It was an early lead for Spurs, but early leads have fallen more often than not in North London this season.
Dier did his best Christian Eriksen impression on a free kick a few moments later. His curling effort went just over the bar.
The rest of the half settled in to the same pattern with not much happening. Everton almost came back into the game right before the break, but Richarlison’s well-hit effort went wide of Hugo Lloris’ post.
There was a bit of a concerning moment right after the half ended. Lloris and Son Heung-Min got in a heated argument walking off the pitch, and they each had to be restrained, but they seemed to hug and make up right before the second period began.
Son recovered from the argument and almost scored on 53 minutes. A long ball from Alderweireld set up the attack, but Pickford was equal to Son’s right-footed shot across goal.
The South Korean’s hot start to the half continued with two chances before the final drinks break of the game. The first one was a curler that went past the far post, and the second stung the palms of Pickford after a dangerous entry pass.
The Toffees have been in good form overall since Carlo Ancelotti took over in December, but they were poor in North London on Monday. They had a few opportunities off free kicks late on. One was delivered well by youngster Anthony Gordon for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but the striker’s backheel was caught by Lloris.
Mourinho was slow to make substitutions, but he did change things slightly in the last quarter of the match by replacing Lucas and Son with Steven Bergwijn and Erik Lamela.
But the game really didn’t need to be changed. There was one more chance for Everton sub Moise Kean, but he could only put the shot directly at Lloris.
Spurs dribbled out the game in the corner, and that was that. It was ugly, but it was another clean sheet to add to the few that Tottenham has accumulated this season.
Mourinho will still likely be wanting more out of his team. The visitors had one of their worst performances in recent memory, thus allowing Spurs to get away with a relatively average effort themselves.
The biggest worry from the game will likely be the confrontation between Lloris and Son, but they hugged again and seemed fine after the final whistle, and Mourinho called the scrap “beautiful,” saying it further showed him that the team cares.
The more concerning issue should be that this was another quiet showing from Kane. Again, he looked slow and stumbling at times.
Up next for Spurs should be an easy win against lowly Bournemouth. After that, Arsenal take the short trip up for the North London Derby.