SATURDAY 23RD DECEMBER, 2023
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(2) EVERTON 1(0)
Referee:- Stuart Attwell
Assistants:- Richard West, James Mainwaring
Fourth official:- Tim Robinson
VAR: Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR:- Harry Lennard
(Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vicario; Pedro Porro, Romero (sub Dier, 46), Davies, Emerson Royal; Sarr (sub Lo Celso, 73), Skipp; Johnson, Kulusevski, Son (Capt.); Richarlison (sub Hojbjerg, 63)
Subs not used:- Forster; Phillips, Dorrington; Gil; Veliz, Donley
Booked:- Kulusevski (Dissent - kicked ball away)
Everton (4-2-3-1):- Pickford; Patterson, Tarkowski (Capt.), Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Gueye (sub Gomes, 24), Onana (sub Beto, 79); Harrison (sub Danjuma, 66), Garner, McNeil; Calvert-Lewin
Subs not used:- Joao (GK), Lonergan (GK); Keane, Godfrey; Hunt; Chermiti
Booked:- Gueye (foul on Richarlison), Onana (foul on Emerson Royal), Gomes (Dissent), Patterson (foul on Johnson)
Spurs go fourth for Christmas, but boy, it was tough.
Two teams, both low on resources, due to injuries and in Spurs' case two suspensions, went toe-to-toe in a game that non-partisans would have enjoyed immensely. For Spurs fans, after a bright start with two sparkling goals, the game became a battle for survival against an Everton side who had more shots and more on target. Having cut the deficit with eight minutes to go, "The Toffees" hit the woodwork late in added time before an offside flag was raised against former Spur Danjuma.
Spurs were missing Bissouma and Udogie through suspension. Udogie will be back for next Thursday's trip to Brighton, but there are further injury concerns with Richarlison having to be replaced with a back injury and Romero replaced by Eric Dier at half-time.
I was expecting to see Hojbjerg start, but "Big Ange" put his faith in Ollie Skipp, who after one early lapse gave a fine performance with some telling passes.
Sean Dyche had a 19-year-old striker on the bench and one of his two substitute goalkeepers was 40-year-old Andy Lonergan whose last competitive appearance was on this day three years ago for Stoke City against Spurs in a League Cup quarter-final.
Father Christmas made a brief visit ahead of his busy schedule and appeared in front of the golden cockerel atop the Stadium's lofty "Sky Walk." Santa was gracious enough to wear Spurs colours.
Everton won the toss and turned us round, so the South Stand got the benefit of our two early goals. Spurs kicked off and after only 34 seconds, Sarr volleyed a Kulusevski cross into the ground which dipped towards goal but was held by Pickford.
Everton were not going to be content to sit back though and won two early corners. After one of these Vicario had to save a deflected shot by Mykolenko after Garner's corner. Garner played an impressive part for the visitors and would also test the busy Spurs keeper.
Referee Stuart Attwell tried to give an advantage after Son was fouled, but Skipp lost the ball and Everton pounced with Calvert-Lewin racing into our area before Cristian Romero intervened. Romero was our defensive mainstay until his half-time departure. I understand he felt a slight twinge in his hamstring and that he should be okay for Brighton.
Spurs opened the scoring in the ninth minute when former "Toffee" Richarlison scored in his third successive game. It was a super goal. Sarr threaded a nice ball into the Everton box towards the right. Johnson raced in and quickly crossed hard and low to the near post where Richarlison fired into the net.
Minutes later Emerson crossed from the left, but Johnson missed a good chance, putting his shot over the bar. I thought I saw an offside flag here anyway. A shot by McNeil passed wide across the goalmouth at the other end. Mykolenko got the better of Pedro Porro and crossed from the left leading to a good header by Calvert-Lewin which was convincingly pushed away from danger by Vicario. Calvert-Lewin hit a shot wide after Vicario had advanced outside his area to try and head clear.
Spurs' second goal followed a short corner, leading to a shot on goal by Johnson. Pickford parried, but the ball went to the feet of Son, who very neatly placed a shot inside Pickford's right post with the keeper stranded.
Gueye suffered a double punishment when he fouled Richarlison. The midfielder was booked and also injured himself, having to be replaced by Andre Gomes.
Spurs were capable of zippy break-outs, but too often their passing when playing out let them down. Emerson was culpable on one such occasion, leading to a shot by Garner, saved by Vicario.
There was a brief VAR review over a challenge by the Spurs keeper which went in Spurs' favour. Vicario had dived at the feet of Calvert-Lewin to save the day. The Spurs keeper made another good save, low to his left, from Garner. There had been another brief VAR check for a possible penalty when Mykolenko fired wide. In first half added time, Vicario had to save from Jack Harrison after the forward had broken clear. Ben Davies made the final clearance.
Spurs had an early piece of good play after the break with Richarlison and Son combining before Son's intended pass for Johnson failed. Everton thought they had scored through Calvert-Lewin, but VAR and a check of the monitor by the referee decreed that Emerson had been fouled in the build-up. Spurs fans cheered. The visiting army was less impressed.
Pedro Porro and Johnson combined down the right before Sarr had a shot on goal, not convincingly saved by Pickford, but Everton survived. Garner threatened yet again, but his shot was wide. After good defending against Harrison, Spurs broke out with Son passing side to Sarr, whose shot was blocked.
Pickford was in action again, stretching to save near his post from Kulusevski who had got the better of Patterson. Andre Gomes goal gave Spurs a nervy finish. It followed a corner which was jot cleared and Gomes scored with a right-foot finish inside Vicario's right post. Spurs were under pressure with Davies and Vicario between them clearing a Tarkowski header following a corner.
Lo Celso was impressive in his cameo appearance off the bench, and after he fed the ball to Son to his left, our captain's cross did not find Spurs feet. Spurs survived that scary Danjuma moment and were relieved when the final whistle blew.
With Manchester City absent, winning the World Club Cup Final, Spurs climbed above them into fourth place. Spurs were the only top four side to win this weekend and with both Newcastle and Manchester United losing it has been a great week. Everton will give City a tough game when they visit next Wednesday.
Spurs have now scored in 30 consecutive Premier League games and are the only team in the division to register a goal in every league match this season.
As Santa said when at the top of the stadium, "Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!"
. Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
. Read the preview for this game.
. All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
Top of page | Index to 2023-24 Match Reports