Sitting up in the gods of Wembley stadium, surrounded by Tottenham supporters, I was a little bit more optimistic than I usually am. With our new £25m+ striker starting and a team that could cause Tottenham problems, I was hoping for a positive attacking performance. Of course, it was the complete opposite. Another game, another time we sat back and just used the long ball. The lack of any attacking play has turned fans into a depressed heap, possibly the least-bothered I’ve been about Everton in recent times. Spurs totally outplayed us, so here is my analysis, looking mostly on Tottenham’s impressive attack.
Rolling-Formations – Spurs changing on and off the ball
Tottenham set themselves up in a 4231, but formations chopped and changed throughout the game to enable more unpredictability and break down Everton a lot, lot easier.
The four-four-two has become infamous in football for being ultra-defensive, but it is proven to work and without the ball, Alli moves up alongside his partner, Harry Kane, to turn the Spurs team into a 442. Without the ball, the hosts had a high defensive line which cancelled out any surging long-balls into the area, whilst applying huge amounts of pressure on Rooney, Sigurdsson and Bolasie. In the first half, we had 5 offside decisions made against us, with 2 very close to the half-way line.
Cenk Tosun did well to adapt to this, and received help from Rooney at points… but overall, he was very isolated – as every Everton striker has been over the years. Which killed off any chance of an attack being formed.
In the formation, Spurs were invincible and wasn’t threatened at all from Everton’s smash and run approach. Tottenham didn’t have to move into this formation, thanks to the severe lack of possession we had.
During the warm-up, around 25 minutes before kick-off, Spurs were running through attacking runs from the full-backs, which included Ben Davies and Serge Aurier. The Ivorian right-back played a fundamental part in a lot of Tottenham’s offensive play, performing as more of a winger than a full-back throughout. Aurier and Davies both sat most of the game on the half-way line, and when space was about, you’d often see them about to cover it.
This created a 235 formation when Spurs had the ball for a long amount of time in our half, the Spurs full-backs usually just behind playmakers Eriksen and Son… sometimes right next to them. The width used from Spurs was immaculate which pulled and dragged Everton’s tight formation. When Everton had the ball, we wanted to use as little space as possible (as proven whenever we had a goal-kick), with Tottenham it was immensely different with every player covering the entire pitch.
Before the first goal, the same ball was made to Aurier at least 4 or 5 times prior, with the same result him being in 20 yards in space and no Martina in sight. Sigurdsson knew Aurier’s presence before Eriksen made the ball to him for the first goal, Martina already occupied by Son approaching the penalty area. With the Icelandic not tracking back, Spurs were open to scoring the first goal in quite an impressive fashion.
Aurier played a crucial part in Tottenham’s attacking play, having 51/85 touches (60%) in the opposition half and was never even touched from Cuco Martina who was ran through more times than he had been all season.
Tottenham’s incredible attacking play and passing
In fairness to Everton, I thought we defended alright in the first 45 other than the goal. We weren’t playing too deeply and both Jagielka and Holgate denied Kane a chance to face the goal and attempt a shot. I think this had to be the only positive I can take from the game.
Spurs were 2/3 gears above us, Everton weren’t bad or good, but it’s probably the only defeat where I can say that we were totally outplayed – not from us being horrifically bad (for some of the game anyway).
The midfield five of Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min picked apart our midfield in some style. Between the five, Spurs made 289 passes in total, creating 12 chances during the game. The inter-passing was beautiful and incredibly high-tempo was beautiful to watch at times, I haven’t seen Idrissa Gueye been dragged out of position so many times.
On Tottenham’s passing and position map, you can see the extent of just how good Tottenham were with their distribution of the ball. The link-up play between the midfield five, combined with full-backs pressing highly and multiple changed of formations from 4231 to 235, gave us no chance and was brilliant to watch (when I didn’t have my head in my hands).
The depressing deterioration of Everton’s attack
Here is a bunch of stats in relation to Everton’s offensive play (please feel free to scroll completely past this section):
- With Allardyce, we’ve failed to have a shot on target in 3 of our last 5 league games. Pre-Allardyce, we had failed to have a shot on target in 3 of their last 222 league games.
- Tottenham had more shots on target in the 1st hour (7) than we did in the last 9 hours of play.
- We haven’t had a single shot on target in 2018.
- It’s been 6 straight games in which Everton failed to record a first-half shot on goal.
- Everton failed to record a shot on target for the fourth time in a Premier League match this season.
- Everton are yet to win in 11 league games against the teams above them.
On a serious note, Tosun did impress me a lot and taking him off was a bizarre decision from Allardyce. He looks like he can fit in well into Premier League “physicality” and his runs were aiming to be behind the defence, each time. He misses a player in support and a brain in midfield that can reach him.
Spurs were incredible, arguably one of the best sides I’ve watched us play against. The fluidity and speed put our heads in a spin. It was a painful watch as an Evertonian, Allardyce coming out in the post-match interview saying, “We need to be more boring” was the icing on the depress-filled cake, and if he fails to make some sort of attacking play link, then he’ll lose the dressing room just like Koeman and Unsworth did. It indicates just how far and fast Spurs have grown in comparison to us, once level teams, now far different in ability and tactics.
Stats via Squawka, WhoScored and @11tegen11.
Up the Toffees.