An own goal from Michael Keane set the Spurs ball a-rolling and they proceeded to dismantle an Everton defence with Harry Kane bagging a brace, Son and Reguilon with his first kick as a second half substitute proving far too much for an Everton side that to say the least were poor.
With games in hand over all the other clubs in the nether regions of the Premier League table, and the other four clubs in the bottom five all having lost over the weekend, Everton travelled south to White Hart Lane in the full knowledge that a result against Spurs would be a most welcome boost to easing the threat of falling further into trouble.
For Spurs after their FA Cup exit at Middlesbrough, they needed a performance to calm their nerves and ease the pressure that seems to surround head coach Antonio Conte.
The Italian seemed almost grateful that Spurs were eliminated from the Cup last week and have just 13 PL fixtures to fulfil when he said, “For sure, if we are to find a positive situation, it’s this, from now until the end of the season, I will have more days to work with the players. We have to try to exploit this situation, more days to work with the team and to prepare for games.” And he re-iterated his thinking when asked about facing Everton in his Sunday press conference, “This is a good game for us, in the right moment. We are having the right time to prepare the game and, for sure, from now until the rest of the season, the only positive thing is we can have more days to prepare for the games. In the past when we had more time to prepare, we had good results. We know we’re facing a good team and a new manager. Frank Lampard is showing that he can do this job very well. In his last two experiences he did well with Derby and with Chelsea. Monday will be a tough game for both teams.”
With Lucas Moura and Rodrigo Bentancur both available for selection, Conte was only missing Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga and eventually settled on a 3-4-3 formation with a starting line-up of: Lloris (c), Romero, Dier, Davies, Doherty, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Sessegnon, Kulusevski, Son and Kane.
With FA Cup progression safely secured last Thursday, Frank Lampard switched his attention to the meat and drink of the season, the Premier League and he wants to see a more complete Everton really begin to assert themselves in this final period the season. “It is important to maintain focus and consistency in our work and approach to everything,” he said adding, “Our season doesn’t rest on Tottenham. But we have to work hard to prepare to try to get results in this patch of the season, which will be crucial for us. Every game is different, against Boreham Wood we needed an injection of tempo because of the opposition’s low defensive block. In other games, you need patience. But you must always have hard work and togetherness, which we have. There has been a real uplift in our pressing and off-the-ball work.”
Lampard continued, “Now, we have to be more complete in our in-possession play and structure, to allow us to be more confident on the ball. We are trying to play in a different and more progressive way and can’t expect that to be a success in every minute of every game. Things that were important to me and the staff have hit home with the players, they are listening to the message and understanding and working with us and trying to improve. We are moving in the right direction.”
With Demarai Gray still recovering from a fever and Andre Gomes having recovered from a hip strain, the Blues boss was hopeful Dominic Calvert-Lewin would also be assessed fit to play and gave him as long as possible before naming his starting eleven in a 4-3-3 formation: Pickford, Coleman (c), Holgate, Keane, Kenny, Doucoure, Allan, van de Beek, Gordon, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.
Our referee was Stuart Attwell.
A steady opening by the Blues, passing the ball around calmly with every player bar JP getting an early feel for the ball. Kane went down following a tackle by Holgate but a bit like Lazarus, quickly regained his feet when no free kick was given his way. Kenny with a high cross into the area saw DCL tumble under pressure from Hojbjerg and when Spurs looked to counter quickly, it was Allan getting back smartly to regain possession. Allan tried to find Richarlison down the left hand channel but he mistimed his first time effort, and the chance was lost. Davies with a foul on Davies earned him a verbal admonishment from the referee and the first ten minutes passed into history.
Kane with a good ball found Son in space and while he tried to make his mind up what to do, Anthony Gordon got back to get the ball back to Pickford, and when Everton looked the counter, the Korean took Gordon out of the game to give the Blues a free kick wide right that came to nothing.
In the 14th minute though, Davies threaded a ball down the Spurs left for Sessegnon who got beyond Coleman with ease and reaching the bye-line, his first time cross was inadvertently put beyond Pickford by the unfortunate Michael Keane under pressure from Kane.
It got worse for the Blues as less than three minutes later, Son made it two-nil taking a pass from Kulusevski and firing a quick shot that Jordan Pickford will be unhappy to have been beaten by. And having started quite well, Everton found themselves with a mountain to climb after barely a quarter of an hour.
Son was rightly booked for a clear pull back on Gordon as he looked to break away having dispossessed Sessegnon to begin with. Spurs should have put the game beyond Everton on 27 minutes as a quick move saw the ball find Son with time and space to find the net, Pickford spreading himself well to foil the first shot, Kane on the follow-up putting the ball wide of the left hand post.
Allan to Doucoure and onto Richarlison and he was agriculturally and unceremoniously taken out by Romero who became the second Spurs player to see a yellow card. Gordon flighted the free kick but straight into the waiting hands of Hugo Lloris, a poor return from a good position. Gordon though was puttng in the hard yards in the Blues cause, chasing and harrying Spurs in their half and trying to get the ball forward proactively whenever he could.
Holgate fouled Son in midfield to bring a Spurs attack to a halt but Spurs came again and Pickford stood up well to turn a shot from Doherty away for a corner that saw Keane beat Kane to the ball and concede a second. Son failed to beat Richarlison at the near post and the ball was cleared. Ten minutes left in the first half and Everton were torn asunder as a ball though the middle found Kane in space and he made no mistake in beating JP low to his right hand side.
This was now beginning to look like a case of how many Spurs might score as they had cruelly exposed the limitations of the Blues defence while Everton somehow needed to find some self belief to try and force a way back into the game. Gordon was looking the one player who might be able to unlock Spurs and he was again tackled rather heavily to prevent him creating a chance, Spurs clearly having determined he needed to be stopped at all costs.
Hojbjerg and van de Beek wrestled each to the grass with Spurs inevitably getting the benefit of the doubt and a free kick and two added minutes were announced. A clearance by Holgate hit Keane flush in the face and the England was clearly shaken up by the impact before manfully carrying on. On the half time whistle, Doucoure and Hojbjerg had a bit of push and shove as frustration levels neared boiling point.
Half Time: 3-0
Reguilon replaced Sessegnon for Spurs at the start of the second half with Jarrad Branthwaite replacing Michael Keane for the Blues.
And inside 40 seconds of the restart, Spurs once again carved open the Blues defence with Reguilon finishing a low cross from Kulusevski with his first touch of the ball.
Bentancur fouled DCL as he tried to find a way forward onto a pass from Allan, Anthony Gordon lined up the free kick only to see his shot hit the Spurs wall. Spurs made a second change on 51 minutes as Romero was replaced by Sanchez. Gordon worked a shooting chance for DCL that was blocked and a second shot from the Blues Number 9 a minute later beat Lloris and the far post to go wide. Spurs quickly down the other end to win a corner as Allan deflected ashot behind and Branthwaite got back to turn a shot from Son behind for another that ended with Kane crossing for Dier to see his header go behind off the top of the crossbar. Spurs kept the pressure on as Everton failed to clear their half of the field and Kane bagged his second of the game with a fine finish on a crossfield ball from Bentancur.
Frank Lampard made his second change in the 59th minute, Vitaliy Mykolenko replacing Donny van de Beek.
With the result long, long, long decided the final half hour began to resemble a training ground attack vs defence exercise as Spurs kept coming forward and Everton just happy to clear their lines.
The 66th minute saw Son replaced by Bergwijn while Everton brought Dele Alli on for Calvert-Lewin three minutes later as Pickford berated his defence for opening like the Red Sea to allow Bergwiijn a shot that he’d done well to parry.
Everton won a corner in the 74th minute that was easily cleared by Spurs and pushing forward again, Dier headed a cross from Coleman behind for another that sadly failed to produce anything. Into the final ten minutes and Spurs were still looking to add to their tally, Reguilon flighting a free kick that saw a header go wide of the far post.
Much has been said of this Everton side that they lack heart and especially the kind of heart needed for a relegation fight – well, after this mauling by Tottenham, and his third straight away loss with barely a whimper from his players in reply to the opposition, Frank Lampard and his coaching staff need to find some heart and fast. Everton may still have games in hand but, games in hand need to be made to count and the only counting tonight was how many Spurs might have scored had they truly been bothered. I hate to be openly critical but, there were performances tonight that rank alongside some of the very poorest of the last 27 years and actually for a lot longer than that. Everton Football Club is in dire straits and Premier League survival is very genuinely in doubt, as once again, not one shot on target had been registered away from Goodison Park.
Three added minutes were announced with large sections of not only the away support but the home fans too having drifted away having seen five goals inside the first hour.