Spurs 2-0 Everton – 5 Point Tactical Deconstruction

1.Selection and Formations

Both sides opened up pretty much in 4-4-1-1 systems. Anichebe played off Saha with most of his runs down the left onto Kyle Walker. Cahill and Fellaini were deployed into the anchor roles in midfield (see average position visual left) with Donovan wide right when not in possession and then coming in off the flank when we had the ball to support Saha.  Spurs brought Lennon back in on the right meaning VdV returned to his usual slot playing off Adebayor with Dawson coming in at centre back for the injured Ledley King.

 2.Spurs Extra Man

Perhaps with last season’s game in mind, Spurs started with Lennon on the left and Bale down the right, but whilst Lennon ended up spending most of his time back on the right flank, Bale pretty much had a free role and license to roam inside when Spurs had possession (right) with Assou Ekotto providing the width down the left flank tracked by Neville. With Bale inside this often meant that Spurs had an extra man in the middle of the pitch in offensive situations, with Donovan on the right for us having no man to mark. In truth, Bale was well marshalled for the most part, making no successful dribbles, just 1 successful cross and making the most turnovers (7) of any of the outfield players. With the depth of match winning players Spurs have though, keeping one man at bay was not going to be enough.

 3.Defensive Distribution

Spurs had the bulk of possession (62%) making 260 more passes than us. Spurs defenders are very good on the ball although our decision to sit deep meant they often had no pressure on them when in possession. Still, their distribution to turn defensive situations into attacking ones was superb. Combined, Spurs back 4 posted  89% pass completion compared to our total of  75% and it was from the back that Spurs got their opening goal with Assou Ekotto pinging a superb diagonal to Lennon who was able to move inside and slot past Howard. The goal was helped by some rank bad defending from Leighton Baines. This meant we went in at the break 0-1 down – not surprising given that we have conceded the highest proportion of first half goals (57%) in the top flight this season. This was also the 9th game on the spin we had failed to score in the first half.

4.Blues Sitting Deep

Moyes opted for a deeper defensive line than usual probably to cope with the threat of Modric’s long passes and to neutralise the pace of Bale/Lennon. Off the ball we basically had 2 banks of four in close proximity which afforded decent shape. In midfield we lacked incision though. Ideally a midfield duo should be a combination of 1 passer and 1 runner – in Fellaini and Cahill we had 2 runners which was ok when Spurs had the ball, but less so when we had it.  You can question his quality on the ball but you will always get a shift from Cahill – the Australian  covered the most distance of all the outfield players in the first half (5.1km) . The issue with defending so deep and not pressing further upfield is that you only focus on defending your 18 yard line. This enabled Assou Ekotto to take 6 touches of the ball without one challenge coming in as he shot Spurs into a 2 goal lead.

For the most part, Anichebe drifted to the left which was were the bulk of our play was focused ( right) When we did get the ball forward Anichebe and Saha were isolated as we struggled to get our wide midfielders high enough up the pitch to support. Anichebe didn’t get much joy from Kaboul;  the Nigerian winning just 23% of his aerial duels to Kaboul’s 77%.  Due to the limited players we commit into forward areas there is rarely a ball on when it does stick with the forwards so our build up is slow which affords the opposition time to get back in position. Still, for all the play Spurs had, we could easily have taken something from the game given the chances which fell to Saha and Fellaini’s headed miss which he should have dispatched.

Drenthe’s arrival brought some incision to our play and for the first time in the game Spurs defence looked genuinely shaky. Drenthe should have earned a pen but his cameo did enable us to win 3 fouls (more than the rest of the team put together) This may seem minor but situations like this give you respite from the constant defending and provides decent opportunities to put in deliveries to the Spurs box which was arguably our most likely route to a goal.

5.Final thought

Our plan was to sit deep, frustrate Spurs  and try and dig out a point and for the most part we defended well and held our shape admirably . Whilst both Spurs goals had an element of fortune (defensive error and deflection) you couldn’t argue with the result; Spurs kept the ball better and were more varied in their attacking approach. There’s no real shame in this – Spurs after all are going for the title and to put it bluntly have much better players and strength in depth than we do. We need to move on quickly, take stock and re-focus for a more winnable fixture at Villa Park on Saturday.


8 thoughts on “Spurs 2-0 Everton – 5 Point Tactical Deconstruction

  1. Spurs fan here. Good enjoyable stuff.

    One question, I always read about how well Moyes does on a shoe-string, but don’t you think Everton have been poorly managed in a financial sense? After all neither Spurs nor Everton have been bankrolled, we’re both the same size club, both receive by far the bulk of our revenue from TV which is equitably distributed, so how come we’ve pushed on and Everton have fallen back?

    Also, Everton spent more on their starting 11 yesterday than Spurs did on their’s, this would seem to suggest it’s less about money and more about intelligent team-building. For me it seems Moyes is great at getting the most out of limited players and can extract value in the bargain basement, but when it comes to spending big money he seems not to understand value. Is that fair?

    • Interesting points there. I was shocked by the stat about our starting team being more expensive than spurs…I’ve got efc team down as 47m in total. Moyes certainly has got more value from his economical buys – cahill 2m, arteta 3m, lescott, 4m etc…from his big money buys yakubu was 10m and we got 1 good season out of him, billy at 9m has been poor but fellaini was a good buy – 15m but if he was put up for sale today we would make a profit.

      You are correct about the financial management (or should that be mis-management?!) Spurs are the team which the efc protest movements use as an example of a club of similar size who have kicked on in recent years due to the superior business model at boardroom level whilst we have stagnated….as a caveat though I’d hazard a guess that spurs wage bill is much more sizeable than efc? our top earner is heitinga on £75k per week and we have the smallest squad in the top flight.

      A guy did a really interesting article on our finances which is worth a read (link below)


      • That Swiss Ramble guy is great isn’t he?

        Our top earner is also on £75k a week, however we do spend considerably more on wages £67m to your £54m in non-CL years. But that’s maybe reflective of our larger squad?

        In comparison to Liverpool’s spend on wages, which is around £121m p/a, we’re angels. Even Arsenal spend over £100m – but then we’re up to £90m with the bonus’ in the year we qualified for CL too.

        The real issue for me though is the gulf in commercial revenue where you guys make £10m p/a and we make £42m p/a. That’s the difference between the clubs right there, and that’s only down to one man (or two if you credit Levy), Kenwright.

        There’s no reason that you should make less than us on what is after all a global product.

      • I think our net spend on transfers is in the region of £18m a year, which makes us the fourth or fifth biggest spenders in the league.

        But for some reason everyone concentrates on transfer fees, when in fact paying wages is by far any clubs biggest expense on players.

        For example Utd may have spent less than we have annually on transfers for a few years now, however even if they’d spent nothing each year, we’d have only spent £18m a year more than them. Take a look at what they spend on wages however and you’ll see they’re up around the £140m a year mark, £70m a year more than we spend.

        In other words it’s the wage differential which counts, and which swamps by an order of magnitude the transfer differential.

        Now if you look at your transfer spend over the last five and half seasons it’s a nil spend, whereas our’s is £18m p/a. Add that to the £13m a year more than you that we spend on wages and you get a grand total of £31m.

        That’s massive – even if our first 11 on Wednesday cost less than your’s did – but it’s also, coincidently, almost exactly the difference between what we earn from commercial activities (£42m p/a) and what you do (£10m p/a).

        Which is my main point. There’s no reason you shouldn’t earn as much as us, the clubs have similar status in the UK and over-seas sponsors and the like are buying into the Premier League as much as an individual club (unless it’s a Utd or Liverpool), they’re certainly not buying into Tottenham Hotspur, any more than they would Everton FC.

        Imo our strength comes from Levy and the wonders he’s worked over the years, your weakness stems from the honourable, but average, Kenwright.

  2. Really interesting and fair article. As a Spurs fan i have to say i was impressed that your boys passed it on the floor when you had possession. The game was played at such high tempo but there was nothing malicious out there – not a bad foul all night. A lot of teams come to the lane and try to kick us off the park. And yes we couldnt believe you didnt get a penalty late on either!

  3. I think the game went much as we discussed on this blog before hand. It was hard for Moyes to encourage his midfield and fullbacks forward to pin back Spurs’ attacking players – without leaving space behind the defence. And in the end, Spurs had too many players offering too many routes to goal to keep them all away from the danger zone.
    A key moment seemed to be when Distin went off – as his position play seemed really good and when he was gone there was a lot more space for Spurs to drift into around the box (and indeed score the second goal).
    In regards to finance – it is shocking that Everton are as they are right now. There is structurally no reason to be behind Spurs – and Spurs’ top wage is only apparently about what Heitinga earns. But a better long term management of the business is needed for Everton to replicate what Spurs have achieved in the last ten years. (going from mediocre to top class)

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