SUNDAY 12TH MAY, 2019
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) EVERTON 2(0)
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Scott Ledger, Simon Long
Fourth official:- David Coote
Spurs (4-3-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Eriksen, Sissoko, Dele (sub Wanyama, 46); Lamela (sub Skipp, 77), Llorente (sub Janssen, 77), Lucas Moura
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Trippier, Aurier; Marsh
Everton (3-4-3/4-2-3-1):- Pickford; Zouma, Keane, Mina; Walcott, Schneiderlin, Gueye (sub Gomes, 65), Digne; Sigurdsson (Captain), Tosun, Bernard (sub Lookman, 65)
Subs not used:- Stekelenburg; Baines, Jagielka, Kenny; Davies
Booked:- Schneiderlin (foul on Sissoko), Digne (foul on Walker-Peters)
Champions League football secured. Now for the Final!
In truth there were only two matches that mattered in today’s final Premier League programme of the season. Those involved title chasers Liverpool and Manchester City. For Spurs to fail to hold onto fourth place and a place in next season’s Champions league they needed to lose today and Arsenal needed to win with an overall 8 goal swing in favour of our nemesis. From the moment Eric Dier opened the scoring within three minutes, that goal-swing figure became nine, and the game at new White Hart Lane became less and less significant. Even Everton fans took more interest in the progress (or lack of it) of their rivals, cheering every Manchester City goal, and once it became obvious that City would win a back to back title, the “Toffees” sang “We’re all having a party, when Tottenham win the cup!”
Everton nearly became party poopers too when they took a second half lead, before Christian Eriksen restored parity with a superbly taken 75th minute free kick. The points were shared and Everton still have not beaten Tottenham since December 2012. Spurs have to wait till next season to gain two more points against this team to run up a total of 100 Premier League points.
It was a quite warm and sunny day in Tottenham and a party mood prevailed as Wednesday night’s hat-trick hero Lucas Moura got the biggest cheer when the teams were announced. Pochettino made five changes to the starting line-up with Kyle Walker-Peters making his fourth Premier League start of the season, and Eric Dier replacing the injured Jan Vertonghen next to Alderweireld. Ben Davies played at left back and both Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente made starts. The Spurs formation was not immediately obvious with Eriksen and Dele seemingly playing either side of Sissoko whilst Lamela was up front with Llorente and Lucas Moura. Eventually it appeared that Pochettino played a diamond midfield with Sissoko at the back, Lamela at the front and Eriksen and Dele east and west in that diamond.
Similarly, it looked as if Marco Silva was deploying a back three but later in the first half his formation became a traditional 4-2-3-1 with Digne at left back. Everton were missing Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front along with Richarlison and Seamus Coleman.
Spurs’ first goal came from a corner on the right, taken by Lamela and after one or two touches in the box Eric Dier seized upon the opportunity and fired home for his first goal of 2019. Everton had a free kick after 10 minutes, taken by Sigurdsson and headed towards goal by Keane. Hugo Lloris held the attempt upon his goal. Sissoko made an advance down the right side and passed to Llorente whose shot was parried before Sissoko followed up but hit his attempt wide. By this time the offside flag had been raised anyway. Lamela crossed from the left side and Dele hit a right footed shot over Pickford’s goal.
After 18 minutes and a cross from the left Walcott had a shot on goal held by Lloris after a touch by Cenk Tosun. Spurs had a corner taken by Lamela which resulted in a shot by Walker-Peters going off target. Walcott and Sigurdsson combined towards the right for Everton but Sigurdsson’s cross was cleared. Lloris was down to save a shot by Bernard, and Everton were looking more and more interested in the result after Spurs had made a bright start. There was a nice Spurs move after 33 minutes when Lucas chased and won the ball. Eriksen and Walker-Peters took up the attack with Lamela making a final pass to Dele whose shot passed wide.
Digne took a free kick out on the left and Keane had another attempt on goal, but this was always going wide. In added time Everton had a free kick from 23 yards, taken by Digne, but blocked by the Spurs defence.
Dele was replaced at half-time by Wanyama, who played beside Sissoko with Eriksen more advanced and behind Lamela, Llorente and Lucas Moura. Kyle Walker-Peters hit an early ball across the Everton area which did lead to a corner, after which there was a one-man pitch invasion. I believe the intruder came from the Everton section, but he was soon rounded up and escorted out of the premises. After a quickly taken throw on the left, a Spurs attack ended with an Eriksen shot, which took a deflection and won a corner. Everton responded with Tosun teeing up Bernard, but his shot was wide.
Silva made a double substitution of Gomes for Gueye and Lookman for Bernard. Gomes had recently served a three match suspension and as a loan player, Spurs are one of the teams who might be interested in signing him from Barcelona under Everton’s noses. Everton’s equaliser came in the 69th minute and was a result of work by a former Spur (Sigurdsson) and a former Arsenal player (Walcott). Walcott has always taken delight at hurting or abusing Spurs and this was no exception as he scored with a left foot shot and leapt high in the air in his celebration in front of the travelling fans. Three minutes later, Everton had a lead. This followed a corner taken from the left and a shot by Lookman being blocked before Tosun snatched upon the chance to score. I believe it was a goal confirmed by goal-line technology as I did not see the ball hit the net.
Spurs got back on terms after Lamela was fouled 20 yards out towards the left of the area. Eriksen stepped up and scored with a lovely right footed shot which hit the net inside Pickford’s left post.
Llorente was replaced by Vincent Janssen, who will surely be on the move this summer. As he is ineligible for the Champions League, he is one player who could take an early holiday. Oliver Skipp replaced Lamela, and gave a competent performance. The only significant action in the closing stages was Hugo Lloris having to save a header by Tosun from Digne’s cross.
Understandably, following Wednesday night’s heroics, this was a Spurs performance which lacked intensity, with very few highs for the fans as far as today’s football was concerned. It would have been nice to have finished third, as a win would have put us above Chelsea who drew in a lack-lustre game at Leicester, but we have finished above Arsenal for the third successive season, and despite our poor league form on the run-in Champions League football has been secured.
I have been convinced that for some time Pochettino’s true focus has been on the Champions League and now we have nearly three weeks to wait for the chance to reach the pinnacle of being European Champions when we face Liverpool in Madrid on June 1st. I will be there!
PS:- Son Heung-min was voted the members' and the Junior members' Player of the Season and was presented with his awards, together with the award for goal of the season. That was his goal against Chelsea at Wembley on 24th November. I can tell you now that Son will not win the Spurs Odyssey player of the season vote, which will be decided and announced after our final game in Madrid!
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