The storm clouds that gathered over Everton throughout October and November are back on the horizon after another largely toothless showing from the Blues against a Spurs side that oozed confidence, movement, touch, pace, skill and a very definite eye for goal.
A League or FA Cup Final would have been the occasion Evertonians preferred to be visiting Wembley for, but given that’s not happening until at least next season, we’ll settle for an ‘away’ game against Spurs in their temporary home.
Spurs in a decent run of form, particularly in the shape of leading goalscorer Harry Kane, went into the late kick-off game looking to put pressure on the RS in fourth and stretch the gap between themselves and north London rivals, Arsenal. Manager Mauricio Pochettino selected a strong line-up: Lloris (c), Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Son and Kane.
With Everton still rumoured to be in transfer talks with Arsenal over Theo Walcott, Sam Allardyce was able to include new signing from Besiktas, Cenk Tosun in his Wembley line-up as the Blues looked to get back to winning form after the disappointment of the FA Cup exit. The manager selected an offensive looking starting eleven of: Pickford, Martina, Jagielka (c), Holgate, Kenny, McCarthy, Gueye, Bolasie, Rooney, Sigurdsson and Cenk Tosun wearing the number 14 shirt.
Craig Pawson was the referee, with no assistance from VAR.
Spurs with a quick start, moving the ball around quickly and confidently saw Kenny penalised for a foul on Son and Aurier win the first corner off Martina inside five minutes. The Blues didn’t panic and calmly began to work their way into the game before a ball from Kane for Alli saw Mason Holgate turn on the afterburners to win the race and coolly find Pickford for the clearance.
A foul by Gueye on Alli gave Spurs a free kick in a dangerous position, but Son couldn’t direct his header on target from the Eriksen set piece.. The Blues responded with a nice touch by Tosun to put Rooney in for a shot that he pulled across the face of goal and wide.
Everton were denied the opening goal by the offside flag on 21 minutes as Cenk Tosun’s header from a Sigurdsson corner was nodded over Lloris by Rooney, but he was marginally offside.
Pickford smothered a shot on the turn from Kane with Alli closing in looking for a rebound as the home side looked to get back on the front foot and dictate the game. Spurs opened the scoring on 25 minutes as a cross field ball from Eriksen found Aurier in oceans of space on the Everton left side and his cross come shot was easily finished by Son.
A decent move started by McCarthy to find Bolasie and then Kenny on the overlap saw a cross that Tosun was unable to a telling header too, but at least the Blues had moved forward purposefully with men prepared to venture forward.
Tosun was proving a bit of a handful for the Spurs defence with his willingness to challenge for every ball in the air and some neat touches on the deck, and a burst down the right saw him get away but his pull back looking for Rooney went behind and McCarthy could only half hit an attempt that skewed well wide.
Jagielka was somewhat harshly yellow-carded for a challenge on Alli as the first half went into one added minute and the teams went to the locker room with Spurs in front, with the Blues sadly having failed to have had an attempt on target.
Half Time: 1-0
Spurs needed less than two minutes of the second half to double their lead as Son turned Kenny inside out to get away and gain the left hand side of the box and his cross was tucked home by Kane although looking suspiciously offside in doing so… VAR would have proved it too.
Dembele with a clear push on Tosun that went unpunished but a slight touch of the elbow by Holgate on Vertonghen inevitably saw the free kick given to Spurs. Alli hit the side netting after a nice one-two with Son, but Kenny did enough to put him off the shot.
Desperately in need of some inspiration, Everton pushed Rooney further forward to play alongside Tosun and on 57 minutes, replaced Bolasie with Aaron Lennon.
Son, played in by Kane, cut inside off the right to fire in a shot that beat Pickford but came back off the post as Spurs continued to have much the better of the play, and the almost inevitable third goal came in the 59th minute as Kane bagged his second bisecting Holgate and Kenny to get on the end of a cross from Dier.
Sam Allardyce gave DCL just under half an hour when he replaced Cenk Tosun who’d worked hard throughout his debut hour in a Royal Blue shirt.
Morgan Schneiderlin replaced McCarthy in the 72nd minute, in a like-for-like move that begged the question why not use Lookman to try and at least register an effort on target??
Spurs withdrew Dier for Wanyama three minutes later and Rooney was needlessly booked for an ankle tap of sheer frustration on Vertonghen.
Pickford proved his concentration levels weren’t dropping as he pulled off a fine double save to deny first Son and then Alli as Spurs again carved their way through the Blues rearguard.
Mason Holgate too was showing he wasn’t prepared to give up and a good tackle on Alli saw him fouled and on Spurs next raid, he did really well to block another shot from Son.
Inside the final ten minutes, Spurs put together the move of the game with Aurier, Son and Alli involved before Eriksen swept home the fourth goal.
Full Time: 4-0
Other than a decent hour from new signing Cenk Tosun and a determined showing from Mason Holgate, there was very, very little in this game for Evertonians to take any comfort from.
Sam Allardyce maybe did the firefighter job he was brought in to do too quickly as on the evidence of this no-show at Wembley, the gig of moving Everton higher up the table AND playing attractive, winning football looks beyond him.