Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Everton

Blues suffer first London reversal

Everton paid the price for conceding two clinical finishes from Spurs and failing to take their own chances in the first half. Substitute Andre Gomes marked his return to the side with a superb strike to give the Blues hope but a last gasp effort from Arnaut Danjuma beat Vicario off the woodwork but, didn’t fully cross the goal line.

Our fourth visit to the capital of the season and Everton arrived looking for a fourth victory over London based opposition and in good form, looking for a fifth successive victory to keep the climb up the table going.

Tottenham under Ange Postecoglou made an impressive start to the season but, recent weeks have seen some indifferent performances and results that sees them now in fifth place, and preparing to face an Everton side who would be tenth but for the inappropriate and unjust points deduction.

The Australian had a number of players unavailable to face the Blues including Yves Bissouma and Destiny Udogie both suspended after recent red card transgressions. Former Blues favourite Richarlison had three goals in his previous three games and with Korean Son again in good scoring form, Spurs were not short of a goal threat even without the departed Harry Kane.

With a chance to move back into the top four places, the former Celtic manager selected his starting line-up: Vicario, Porro, Romero, Davies, Emerson, Sarr, Skipp, Johnson, Kulusevski, Son (c) and Richarlison.

Everton travelled to London looking to put the disappointment of the penalty shootout exit from the Carabao Cup behind them, the need for more points to climb up the Premier League table of primary importance to the club whilst the on/off takeover continues to cast a cloud over the immediate future of the club.

With Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ashley Young both unavailable, Blues boss Sean Dyche was no doubt delighted that Ukrainian international Vitalii Mykolenko had returned to first team training this week having missed the last two games, his availability would certainly help return some balance to the back four.

No doubt relishing his return to a ground where he spent over nine years as the manager, twice winning promotion into the top flight and guiding them to the Europa League, Sean Dyche was looking for a repeat of the Carabao Cup victory over the Clarets but with no fewer than four changes made necessary through injuries and suspensions, he entrusted the task to this starting eleven: Jordan Pickford, Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski (c), Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gana Gueye, James Garner, Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

For this final game before Christmas on a windy afternoon in North London, our referee was Stuart Attwell.

Everton, in their salmon pink away strip were again backed by another outstanding turnout of travelling support, won the toss and turned the sides around and an early attempt by Sarr was easily gathered by Jordan Pickford. An aggressive opening by the Blues saw them press Spurs back in the opening exchanges and the games first corner was won by McNeil leading to a shot from Mykolenko that Vicario dealt with easily enough.

McNeil on a break fed DCL into the left side channel and Romero got back to deny him at the expense of a second Everton corner that was headed clear. Despite the bright start, the Blues fell behind to the first real Spurd attack just before the nine-minute mark, as Johnson got free on the right to get onto a ball from Sarr and his low cross to the near post was consummately finished by Richarlison, who chose not to overly celebrate scoring against his former club.

Johnson should have doubled the Spurs lead three minutes later when he got to a cross from Emerson from the left but, lifted his effort over the crossbar when it looked easier to score. Onana won a 50-50 in midfield to find McNeil but, he dragged his early shot wide of the far post, and the opening quarter of an hour had flown by.

A great ball from Branthwaite found Mykolenko in oceans of space and his excellent cross found DCL only for Vicario to comfortably parry his header at a nice height for the keeper. Spurs countered to win their first corner that saw Pickford beat out a shot from Johnson only for Son to react quickest and bury the rebound, and the Blues had a veritable mountain to climb after just 18 minutes.

Gana Gueye went down on 21 minutes after a tackle on Richarlison that referee Attwell deemed worthy of a yellow card, despite Richarlison suggesting he didn’t punish his former team mate. Gana Gueye gingerly made his way to the touchline with Andre Gomes his replacement. A slick passing move by Spurs was halted by a foul by Onana and he too saw an early yellow card, with the home side failing to make anything of the resulting free kick.

Spurs won another corner as Son found Johnson and Mykolenko challenged him quickly to put the ball behind, and the corner was was wasted. Passing the half hour mark and Spurs were on control, dominating possession and looking capable of opening up the Blues with nearly every foray forward. A giveaway by Spurs saw a Harrison cross cleared to Garner and his first time volley was easily handled by Vicario.

Johnson left an elbow on Mykolenko that went saw a free kick but, not booking for the former Forest forward, and Pickford wasted the free kick, lofting it straight into the arms of his opposite number, and a foul by Richarlison on Tarkowski also was deemed unworthy of a card – one can’t help wonder what Gana Gueye was thinking after he was carded for a similarly innocuous challenge.

McNeil chipped a ball into the Spurs area for DCL and after he’s gone down after hurdling over Vicario, VAR didn’t see anything worthy of half-hearted penalty appeals. A cross from DCL eluded Harrison and Onana blasted over and the next Blues raid saw Patterson cross for Mykolenko with a second ball on the pitch. The Blues were pressing hard and when a ball from Gomes made its way to Garner, he saw his shot saved by Vicario but, some encouragement for the visitors.

Into the final five minutes of the half and a decent passing move involving Patterson and Gomes saw the latter find Mykolenko in the Spurs area with him unable to get an effort on target. Skipp theatrically bought a free kick off Onana as five added minutes were signalled. A terrific cross field ball by Andre Gomes picked out Harrison who saw his low shot parried low to his right by Vicario – another good opportunity that wasn’t capitalised upon by the Blues. McNeil dancing through the Spurs backline went down with the referee immediately waving away penalty claims and the increasingly jittery Spurs defence conceded a corner that was played too long with Kulusevski clearly grabbing a large handful of the shirt of Onana.

Spurs led at the break courtesy of taking their early chances and Everton failing to hit back with any of a number of chances they created.

Half Time: 2-0

A change for Spurs as Dier replaced Romero for the start of the second half that needed Everton to be considerably more clinical with their finishing if they were to get back into this game.

A foul by Skipp on Onana five minutes in saw the Blues get the ball forward and when Gomes dispossessed Emerson to feed Calvert-Lewin, his first time shot beat Vicario low to his right before VAR intervened and ruled the challenge by Gomes to have been a foul… despite the linesmen near to the incident not seeing anything, something James Tarkowski pointed out to the referee in vain.

Pickford beat away a shot from Sarr with Tarkowski completing the clearance before the Spurs player stayed down after coming together with McNeil. An hour played and a super ball by Harrison for James Garner saw his shot graze the outside of the far post. Spurs made a second change as Richarlison was replaced by Hojbjerg on 63 minutes, to bolster the midfield and seeing Son take up a more central role to lad their attack.

A Spurs counter saw Tarkowski block an effort from Sarr found by Son before Sean Dyche replaced Jack Harrison with Arnaut Danjuma on 65 minutes. Everton saw a corner defended with a shot from Mykolenko being blocked and cleared. Persistence by Patterson earned another corner for the Blues that saw a foul given against Branthwaite for impeding Vicario.

Into the final twenty minutes and Everton needed to find a goal quickly to give them hope for a grandstand finish, while Spurs made a third change as Lo Celso replaced Sarr on 73 minutes. McNeil was hurt in a tackle by Skipp but picked himself up without the need of any treatment. Kulusevski got away from Patterson to fire in a shot that Pickford did really well to turn around the post for a corner that he then gathered easily after Andre Gomes was yellow carded for speaking out of turn to the referee.

Gomes then took a ball from Garner to crash in a shot that hit the side netting off the studs of Skipp with no corner given. Beto replaced Amadou Onana on 78 minutes to give the Blues two up front. Good work by Gomes saw him get back to deny Son a shooting opportunity and when Spurs came again, the Korean played an awful ball that Johnson stood no chance of reaching.

Danjuma saw a shot cannon off Dier for a corner on the left that Garner swung in and it came out to Andre Gomes who smashed a terrific shot that Vicario stood no chance with.

Patterson was booked for a late challenge on Johnson before a great ball from McNeil picked out Danjuma and his powerful shot was turned behind by Vicario for another corner that Spurs struggled to clear with Davies clearing a header from Tarkowski. Kukusevski was booked for kicking the ball away giving Pickford the chance to launch a long ball that led to Danjuma winning another corner from the left only for Garner to play it too strongly and out for a goal kick.

Spurs were having to defend and another cross went too close to Vicario as time ticked away. Gomes linked up with McNeil to then find Danjuma but, the move broke down as we reached the end of normal time before six added minutes were signalled.

It was all Everton now, desperately seeking a late equaliser and a foul by Emerson on Garner gave Pickford another chance to get the ball forward quickly but to no effect. Could the Blues find a late goal as Gomes again picked out Danjuma and his rising shot cleared the target. Another great ball from McNeil picked out Danjuma again to see his effort come back off the post and that was the last effort of an at times pulsating game.

Full Time: 2-1

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