Teams and Tactics
Martinez injected some fresh legs into the side which impressively seen off Wolfsburg in midweek with Coleman, Baines, Barry and Barkley all coming into the side for starts. The formation was the usual 4-2-2-2 with Eto’o and Barkley in the withdrawn attacking midfield slots behind runners Mirallas and Lukaku. Fullback duo Hibbert and Garbutt along with McCarthy and McGeady all dropped out.
Spurs shuffled their pack too, deploying a 4-4-2 with Kane and Soldado up top. In midfield Lennon was given the role of providing pace and width from the right flank with Erikson shifting out to the left. There was also a start for Chiriches – usually deployed as a centre half – at right back.
Everton settled the quicker of the two sides with Besic getting some early joy in the first 15 minutes with his switching of play from central areas to Mirallas on the left . The Belgian had the beating of an extremely uncomfortable looking Chiriches and won an early free kick after a clumsy foul by the Romanian after Mirallas had cut in from the left onto his right foot. From the resulting free kick Mirallas repeated the trick again, cutting inside his man and slamming a thunderbolt into the roof of the Spurs net.
Sadly that was pretty much as good as it got for the toffees.
Spurs coordinated pressure off the ball in our half was impressive and it pretty much eliminated the Jagielka forward pass into midfield from our attacking armoury. Instead Jagielka was invariably forced backwards to Howard or sideways to Distin, and just 4 minutes after taking the lead this dynamic was to lead to Spurs equalising goal.
With Jagielka marked, Howard rolled the ball to Distin who under pressure from Kane deployed an aimless ‘plan b’ punt into the direction of Lukaku. With possession turned-over a run from Soldado from central away from goal dragged our skipper out of position thus enabling Kane to drive into the space, brush Distin aside and fire a right footed shot at Tim Howard. Our keeper is enduring a torrid time with significant gaffs in other big games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd already this campaign. He was again culpable here, kindly palming Kane’s shot into the path of Erikson for our host’s equaliser.
Defensively Spurs deployed 2 tight banks of 4 that we simply couldn’t penetrate, meaning the probing defence splitting pass was rarely on. Instead our possession was predominantly side to side before invariably losing possession.
Distin was making Ian Ormondroyd tribute act Harry Kane look like a monstering Christian Vieri in his pomp and the talcum powder applying forward was causing us all kinds of problems with his workrate and closing down of forward passing angles highly commendable.
A Spurs goal now seemed inevitable and it duly arrived on the stroke of half time and again it was the slack-jawed forward who was central to events.
Kane smoked out a dithering Gareth Barry in our half which freed Lennon 25 yards from our goal. The winger was giving Baines a real headache and he was able to thread a pass into Soldado who duly rolled the ball into an open net after Howard kindly dived out of the way. The goal was the 7th defensive error we have made that has resulted in an opponents goal this season which is more than any side in the league albeit we’ve looked a lot sharper at the back in recent months.
Repeat to fade
The second half followed a similar script and despite Martinez shuffling players around there remained a glaring lack of zip to our possession.
Instead conservatively slow, coma inducing sideways passes from the back ensued which allowed Spurs the time needed to regroup into their defensively tight 2 banks of 4.
Mirallas had looked the most likely to get us back into the game and he had by now pulled Chiriches around enough to have him his marker teetering on a yellow card. Rather than exploit him further Mirallas was then withdrawn with McGeady deployed on the opposite flank.
Eto’o contributed little and he was also replaced with Osman moving into Mirallas role on the left meaning Barkley had a bit more space in behind to operate. The youngster endured a frustrating afternoon, however, and with the exception of one cunning pass into Coleman there was little in terms substance on show from him or any of our other attacking players.
Overall Spurs game plan of organised pressure and attacking gains down our left side was commendable and they were worthy winners, albeit they were aided and abetted by a clueless display by us when in possession.