Everton 2-6 Tottenham: Report Card as home side get an F and visitors an A

Alex Rea 23/12/2018
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Tottenham players celebrate

Tottenham Hotspur showed why manager Mauricio Pochettino is a wanted man by thrashing Everton 6-2 at Goodison Park on Sunday to close to within six points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Spurs have had to cope with the unwanted attention of Pochettino being linked with the Manchester United job following Jose Mourinho’s sacking this week.

But they showed no signs of being distracted as they roared back from a goal down thanks to doubles from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen also on target.

Everton led against the run of play through Theo Walcott and even former Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s strike to reduce the hosts’ deficit to 4-2 early in the second half couldn’t spark a revival.

Here is our Report Card from Goodison Park.

THE GOOD

For Everton…

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Calvert-Lewin impresses – Conceding six goals in 70 minutes at home with the manager employing a line so high their defenders were midfielders for much of the evening, there isn’t a lot to pick from.

But if Marco Silva wants to take solace from one aspect, then it would be in attack. Calvert-Lewin started in the No9 slot ahead of Cenk Tosun and Richarlison – who was moved to his usual position on the left – and the 21-year-old impressed. He showed strength to bulldoze into the box and then intelligence to cut back for Walcott to slot home the opener.

He should have made it 2-0 with a brilliant header only to be wrongly punished for the slightest of nudges on Davinson Sanchez. That really is about it for a plus point from an Everton perspective.

For Tottenham…

Tottenham stars celebrate

Tottenham stars celebrate.

‘Fab Four’ all score – Eight goals being scored in this fixture wasn’t the only eye-opening statistic. Indeed, Tottenham’s very own ‘Fab Four’ – Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen – all scored in the same game for the first time ever.

Obviously that statistic carries the weight of requiring four goals in order for it to come to fruition. Yet, considering the wealth of talent between them, it’s still surprising it took so long for it to be achieved. The string quartet are a fine symphony and together they orchestrated a sweet destruction of Everton.

Kane was their bast passer and finisher, Son was all energy and precision, Eriksen was a delight at the tip of a diamond and Alli’s confidence added to the song sheet. It’s because of those talents Spurs are firmly in the title race.

THE BAD

For Everton…

Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford.

Pickford’s nightmare – You know in those seconds before a car crash you realise what’s going to happen right before it does? That’s exactly what it felt like when Pickford bolted off his line in the seconds before disaster struck for Everton.

The England goalkeeper had no right to be in the frame as Kane clipped the ball forward with Kurt Zouma largely in control of the situation. As Pickford clattered into his own man, Son was able to profit from the wreckage with an open goal, albeit from a tight angle and requiring an exquisite finish to equalise.

It’s the third error which has led to a goal this season from Pickford – the highest in the league – and while the 24-year-old is an outstanding goalkeeper of fine distribution and shot stopping, repeated mistakes cannot be tolerated. His red face should have then made way for a red card as well because his wild challenge on England team-mate Alli was worthy of dismissal. A car-crash of a performance from Pickford.

For Tottenham…

Dele Alli is challenged by Jordan Pickford

Dele Alli is challenged by Jordan Pickford.

Alli’s hamstrung – Pickford bulldozed two team-mates in one day and each with disastrous effects. The first occasion was of course by thundering into Zouma, the second was in injuring his international team-mate Alli.

The Spurs midfielder was forced off at the break after pulling up and clutching his hamstring in the immediate aftermath of Pickford’s dreadful lunge.

The 22-year-old midfielder has a history of recurring hamstring problems and although his withdrawal appeared to be precautionary, heading into a busy festive period, it’s an unwanted sight for Pochettino. The Argentine will hope he won’t be hamstrung for too long if Alli is struggling.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Everton’s high line

Yes, Tottenham were absolutely relentless, and yes, they are a far better passing team than Everton, however, the main reason they scored six is because the home side employed a farcically high line.

When will Silva learn and how many more goals conceded will it take? This is no exaggeration, Zouma and Michael Keane were effectively playing as twin No6s and the full-backs were wingers. Spurs found it way too easy to spring forward needing only single-digit passing patterns to enter into the channels or over the top. It was embarrassing.

GRADING

Everton – F

F for foolish and farcical. Need anything more be said? Everton drop out of the top half of the table and questions will be asked of Silva after this shocking defeat.

Tottenham – A

Can’t really get much better than six goals away from home against what could have been a tricky opponent. Spurs are well in their stride and are just two points off second-placed Manchester City. The title race may be a three-horse race.

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Harry Kane returns to Spurs' starting line-up against Everton

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Harry Kane returned to Tottenham‘s starting line-up as one of two changes to face Everton at Goodison Park.

The England captain was on the bench for the midweek Carabao Cup win over Arsenal but came back along with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as Lucas Moura and Paulo Gazzaniga made way.

Toffees boss Marco Silva also made two changes with centre-back Yerry Mina dropped to the bench along with Bernard, with Theo Walcott and Tom Davies back in the team.

However, there was no place in the squad for Ademola Lookman as Oumar Niasse was included in the matchday 18.

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No need for Man City to press panic button after Palace defeat, says Fabian Delph

Andy Hampson 23/12/2018
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Fabian Delph admits Manchester City‘s shock loss to Crystal Palace was a huge blow.

But the midfielder was hardly reaching for the panic button after the title favourites unexpectedly went down 3-2 to the Londoners at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The result left the champions trailing Premier League leaders Liverpool by four points but, with the season just short of the halfway point, there is plenty of time to turn the situation around.

“It’s a massive setback but at the end of the day it’s a very long season,” said England international Delph. “We’re not focused on Liverpool or on any team other than ourselves.”

City did force themselves ahead against the Eagles through Ilkay Gundogan but were then stunned as Roy Hodgson’s spirited side hit back through Jeffrey Schlupp and a wonder goal from Andros Townsend.

Andros Townsend stunned Manchester City with an early contender for goal of the season.

Andros Townsend stunned Manchester City with an early contender for goal of the season.

Townsend’s stunning volley – a ferocious strike measured at 29 yards by TV broadcasters – is already being hailed as the goal of the season by many and left City reeling.

Kyle Walker then conceded a penalty with a rash challenge seconds after Townsend hit the post and Luka Milivojevic made the game safe despite a late – and fortuitous – Kevin De Bruyne reply.

Delph said: “I felt we were in control for the whole game but they’ve scored two world-class goals, and you have to take your hat off to that – they are not goals you see every day, so fair play to them.

“We will always analyse every performance and see what we could have done better in different areas of the pitch, but with those two goals there is nothing you can do.

“We look at ourselves and we had chances. We stayed in control, stayed calm, but came up short.”

It was Palace’s first away victory over City since 1990 and came after 5-0 thrashings in each of their last two visits to the Etihad. Coming after defeats in five of their last six away games it was completely unexpected and naturally Hodgson was delighted.

He did concede, however, it was still not his favourite win at City from a personal point of view. That remains the occasion in 2008 when his Fulham side recovered from 2-0 down to win and kickstart a remarkable relegation escape.

Hodgson said: “It ranks very highly but it still doesn’t rate as highly as the one, many years ago, that kept Fulham in with a shout of staying in the Premier League.

“At 2-0 at half-time, had that result stayed, we were relegated. Even if we’d pulled it back to 2-2 we were relegated. We won the game 3-2 – a deja vu situation like this, and then went on to take 12 from the last 15 to keep us up.

“I suppose that will also be foremost in my memory but I must say the Manchester City we beat then weren’t anywhere near as good as the team we beat here.”

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