Frank Lampard was left ruing two first half chances that fell to Demarai Gray and Amadou Onana as a rare error in the second half from Jordan Pickford saw Harry Kane give Spurs the lead from the penalty spot before a late second from Hojbjerg confined the Blues to defeat.
After the disappointing loss last weekend, our Boys in Blue headed to the capital for the second time this season and a tea-time date with Tottenham Hotspur and our former Brazilian favourite, Richarlison.
Spurs have moved stealthily into the top three places in the Premier League table and came from behind in midweek to overcome Eintracht Frankfurt to move clear at the top of Group D in this seasons Champions League group stage.
Under Antonio Conte, the North London outfit are showing signs of being a serious threat for silverware this season having added the skills we know only too well of Richarlison to the proven quality of Son Heung-Min and England striker Harry Kane in forward line-up most other clubs are rightly jealous of.
And the Italian made no secret of Spurs primary aim this season being progression in the Champions League when he spoke after the victory of the German club when he said, “It was a good performance, a good win, now we are leading our group, everything is in our hands, and this is important, because we have an important chance in the next game against Sporting Lisbon, because if we get a win we go through to the next round, and this is our first target this season.”
Turning his attention to the visit of Everton Conte noted, “We are talking about a really good team with a really good manager. Frank is a young manager but he’s doing very well, he had a great experience with Chelsea and he’s doing a really good job. They started the season so-so, but now I think they reached a good stability. They have a good balance and they’re showing great solidity, especially defensively.”
He added, “It’s a difficult game. We played only two days ago and lost a lot of mental energy, tomorrow we need energy, and we need to be strong because the game won’t be easy. Everton started the season so-so, but now they have a good balance and it’s not easy to play against them.”
With Kulusevski and Emerson Royal unavailable through injury and suspension respectively, the Italian named his starting line-up: Lloris (c), Romero, Dier, Davies, Doherty, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Perisic, Richarlison, Son and Kane.
Having suffered a first loss in seven games, Everton travelled south wanting a positive performance and result, and knowing that any repeat of the nature of the loss in the corresponding game last season would be unacceptable to manager Frank Lampard and the travelling fans.
Speaking on Thursday, Lampard acknowledged last weekends loss had been a setback but, he was hoping for a reaction from the road trips to Tottenham and Newcastle. “People may make us underdogs in these two matches. I understand that, because we’re away against two strong teams. Let’s enjoy that and show what we can do. We’re in a position now where if we take any hits, we have to come back stronger. We took a lot of hits last season when I came in and before I came in. We were on the floor in terms of confidence. Now we want to be stronger than that mentally, as a club. These games are a big test for us.”
He continued adding, “We have got a long way to go. We’re progressing but we mustn’t think we’re near where want to be because we’re not yet. We have work to be done. A lot of the big elements are fresh and new – our back four, our midfield three, some players who have not played together a lot… We can’t expect immediate answers, but can we progress every day and get a bit better? That’s in our hands.”
Turning his attention to Saturday and the squad options he would have available to select his team from, Lampard advised, “We are missing players, but it feels like we have good competition in lots of areas of the pitch. That was partly due to our recruitment and movement of players in the summer, as well as working with players that are developing and getting better. At the moment, we’re in a decent place. We are in a stronger position.”
The missing players include Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey, Nathan Patterson and Andros Townsend all recovering from injury, and Anthony Gordon who’s suspended following his fifth booking of the season last Sunday evening.
On a more positive note the manager advised, “Doucs had a family issue [last week] but is back in the squad for Saturday. Mason’s training really well but not ready to be in the squad yet and Yerry had a little bit of a setback with a small calf injury this week so won’t be available.” On Calvert-Lewin, he added, “It’s great to have Dominic back. We’re in a process with him in that he’s not taking part in every training session for the process of getting him fully match fit, robust and staying fit so we’ll just have to see over the next few days and weeks how quickly we can get him to that optimum level.”
Frank Lampard ultimately decided to entrust the Blues cause to his starting eleven of: Pickford, Coleman (c), Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Iwobi, Gana Gueye, Onana, McNeil, Gray and Maupay.
On a cool but dry evening, our referee was Paul Tierney.
Richarlison went down inside 50 seconds under a challenge from Vitalii Mykolenko, probably not for the only time but, picked himself up to carry on. Tarkowski with an early block denied Son the chance to cause any real danger, and a few moments later, Tarkowski was perfectly placed to put a cross from Son behind for the first Spurs corner that produced nothing.
Richarlison got on the end of a cross from Perisic but, headed high and wide – an early warning though for the Blues that it was liable to be a long evening of defending. Perisic escaped the attentions of Coleman to cross into the area again, the Blues getting it out only as far as Son who worked his way into the box and go down looking for a penalty – referee Tierney deciding against the Korean. A free kick though for a foul by Gana Gueye gave Spurs a shooting opportunity, Son failing to beat the wall. Ten minutes played and it had been largely one-way traffic.
Dier went down and complained enough to see Neal Maupay booked for the flailing arm but, when Romero took out Demarai Gray, the yellow card stayed firmly in the baldy referees pocket. Everton strung about twenty passes together to get Amadou Onana into the Spurs area only for a tackle by Romero to win a goal kick.
Through twenty minutes and the Blues had survived the early Spurs attacks competently before another strong play by Tarkowski saw him deflect a Kane shot out for a corner that was defended well. A break by the Blues saw Gray get on the end of a long ball from Coady to get away from Davies and bear down on Lloris before the ball bobbled and caused him to lift his shot well over the target – a great chance spurned.
Romero fouled Gana Gueye and again got away with just a verbal warning from referee Tierney, the set piece leading to Son deflecting a Coleman shot behind for a corner. McNeil swung it to the back post where Tarkowski rose but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Half and hour had gone by and Everton were holding their own ahead of Pickford quickly off his line to deny Kane and McNeil completing the clearance as Spurs tried to re-establish their early dominance of the play. Good work by Coleman and Iwobi shut down Perisic as he tried to work an opening for a cross.
Bentancur was booked for speaking out of turn following a foul on Gray that saw the Blues player need a bit of treatment before re-joining the play. A superb tackle by Onana on Bentancur stopped a quick breakaway by the home side and we hit the 40-minute mark with a Richarlison shot being deflected behind for a corner that Pickford got a punch on and McNeil again completed the clearance.
A mix-up in midfield by Spurs saw Onana latch onto a loose ball and make ground into Spurs area to beat Lloris and sadly, the crossbar too – another glorious opportunity spurned.
McNeil was booked for a rash challenge on Doherty on the right hand side of the Everton area from the Spurs perspective, Son took and Onana rose to head behind for another Spurs corner from the left, that again was defended. Two added minutes were announced and a late attack by the home side saw Kane cross for Richarlison and his shot with the outside of his boot cleared the crossbar.
Spurs had had more possession but, it was the Blues who could have led at the break had Gray and/or Onana done better with seriously good chances.
Half Time: 0-0
Neither manager made any half time changes and like the first half, Spurs started quickly winning the first corner but, again failing to make anything of the set piece. Richarlison went down four minutes in favouring his left calf and Moura immediately began to warm up in case the Brazilian couldn’t continue… and he duly limped off to be replaced by Bissouma.
Spurs best chance of the game so far came as a ball from Davies picked out Kane for a first time volley that Jordan Pickford parried superbly and Son blasting the follow-up effort way over the bar. Gana Gueye was booked for bringing down Hojbjerg as Spurs looked to press the Blues back and the free kick led to Mykolenko being momentarily hurt blocking a shot from Doherty.
Son got to a cross from Perisic but couldn’t generate any power and JP gathered easily. On 57 minutes, JP spilled a shot from Doherty and trying to recover the ball, he brought down Kane and referee Tierney instantly awarded a penalty that Kane put away to break the deadlock.
An hour gone and now Everton had to chase the game and Dominic Calvert-Lewin took to the touchline to warm up. Son away from Gana Gueye was stopped by Tarkowski ahead of a foul on Alex Iwobi while Frank Lampard considered his options. And the changes on 66 minutes saw Calvert-Lewin replace Neal Maupay and Seamus Coleman make way for James Garner.
Into the final twenty minutes and Kane with a quick turn fired a shot that took a slight deflection off Conor Coady, Pickford parried and Alex Iwobi defending deep got clear. Everton needed to find some way of getting forward and a McNeil cross from the left was too high for Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The travelling fans tried to rally the Blues but, it was Bissouma dispossessing Gray to feed Kane and Tarkowski again with the excellent defending to get the ball away.
McNeil was momentarily hurt in an aerial challenge by Doherty but was okay to continue as we hit the final quarter of an hour, Everton really needed to take a few risks to put Spurs under some pressure. A foul on Onana gave the Blues a free kick that Gray swung to the back post for Tarkowski, Kane getting back to clear the ball to safety. Lloris was decisive in calling for a cross that came in from Garner and on 80 minutes, Frank Lampard made his third change, Salomon Rondon replacing Idrissa Gana Gueye.
Mykolenko was booked for a foul on Doherty on the right hand side, Onana with the clearing header from the Perisic cross. Time was beginning to run out for the Blues who hadn’t had anything like the kind of second half possession they needed to make Spurs work harder defensively.
Spurs sealed the victory as Kane slowed the play down to allow Bentancur to overlap on his right and his cross was controlled by Hojbjerg before he beat Pickford with a slight deflection on the shot to take it beyond the reach of Jordan Pickford.
Spurs made late changes that I couldn’t be bothered noting down and five added minutes were announced as Tarkowski denied Perisic at the expense of a left wing corner. More Spurs changes that I couldn’t be bothered noting wasted more time and Tarkowski manfully stuck to his task as he denied Moura for another defended corner.