Win on 'top six' turf proves elusive but Everton finish campaign in optimistic mood

By Lyndon Lloyd 12/05/2019 16comments  |  Jump to last

For long periods of this game, it looked as though the team selection, influenced as it was by injuries to Seamus Coleman, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was exposing the lack of depth in quality in Marco Silva’s squad.

It was somewhat ironic, then, that Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun, two players who had done little in the preceding hour to advance their respective cases for retention by Everton next season, scored the two goals that could and probably should have resulted in the Blues’ first win away at a top-six side in six years.

As if to compound that irony, it was a clumsy foul by one of the players the club and fans are desperate to keep, André Gomes, that handed Christian Eriksen the kind of dead-ball opportunity that he relishes and thereby deprived the visitors of three points.

Nevertheless, it was an intriguing game from Everton’s perspective, one that perpetuated concerns over some of the team’s weaknesses while also reinforcing the feeling that there is a growing resilience and spirit in the ranks that will stand them in great stead next season.

Silva had lined up his defence with a central defensive setup that felt like a sop to Yerry Mina given his injury problems this year and, perhaps, his hefty price tag. The change shunted Kurt Zouma to the right side where he performed ably enough but at times it was visibly at the cost of his normal pairing with Michael Keane that has been the rock on which a run of eight clean sheets in 10 games had been founded.

Prior to today, Everton had gone 11 games without conceding a first-half goal but it took less than two minutes for that run to end and in the context of the uncertainty over Zouma’s future, Mina’s role in it was somewhat disconcerting. The had been unable to prevent the ball going behind for a corner but he made a mess of the ensuing set-piece. Mina missed his connection with a header allowing the ball to drop to the feet of Eric Dier who lashed it home to notch his first goal of the season.

Given Tottenham’s strength and the manner in which they would proceed to overrun Everton in midfield at times in the first half, gifting them a fourth-minute goal felt as though it had ensured another torrid afternoon against Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Spurs trounced Everton under Sam Allardyce 4-0 at Wembley last season and came away with a 6-2 victory from Goodison Park earlier this season and as Keane gave the ball away in a dangerous area and Lucas Moura looked to capitalise, the feelings of deja vu began to set in.

Thankfully, the Brazilian blazed his effort narrowly over from 20 yards and though Everton generally lacked options moving the ball through midfield, they did manage to fashion a couple of openings of their own in the first 20 minutes

Everton took a while to get their act together in response. Overrun in midfield at times when they didn't have the ball, undermined by poor distribution by Jordan Pickford and struggling for options and movement when in possession themselves, they still had a good chance to level after 10 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson picked out Keane with a free-kick but the centre-half could only steer his header straight at Hugo Lloris. Then, after Bernard had cut a cross from the byline behind Tosun, the ball ran to Walcott where the former Gunner was able to get an effort on goal despite his legs giving way underneath him.

Silva’s men began to grow into the contest as the half wore on, however, and when Bernard fired a shot through the legs of Kyle Walker-Peters on the half-hour mark, Lloris had to get down smartly to save at his right-hand post to keep it out.

Sigurdsson then tested the French ‘keeper with a dipping effort from the edge of the area and Keane despatched the downward header the wrong side of the post before Bernard picked Walcott out with an accurate cross but the winger took too long to pull the trigger and was dispossessed.

For 25 minutes after half-time, the match lapsed into more pedestrian end-of-season fare although it was Everton who should have scored with their best chance to that point when Tosun knocked the ball through into space in the Spurs box but Bernard, on the stretch, could only stab it wide.

Still, it was encouraging from Everton and they would get the goal that their increasing penetration deserved after Silva made a double change that somewhat surprisingly saw Gomes introduced for Idrissa Gueye and Ademola Lookman for Bernard.

It was Lookman who drove purposefully into space towards the Tottenham area and laid the ball off to Sigurdsson who in turn found Walcott. The winger took a touch and then fired a shot inside the far post to level the game and send the vocal Evertonians in the corner into rapture.

It would get better for the travelling Blues three minutes later just as word came through that Manchester City had increased both their lead at Brighton (to 3-1) and their grip on the Premier League trophy. Sigurdsson swung in a corner that was met by a towering header from Keane. Lloris parried his effort on the line, Lookman couldn’t quite get enough on the ball to convert from close range but Tosun was on hand to force it over the line and put Everton 2-1 up with 18 minutes left.

Unfortunately, Spurs would score on their first attack following the restart. The home side worked the ball through a large hole in the Blues’ back line that put Erik Lamela into a dangerous position but he was bundled over by Gomes a couple of yards outside the box, setting Eriksen up to rap home the equaliser. The Dane hammered the resulting free kick inches over the wall and into the far corner of the goal before the unsighted Pickford had a chance to properly react.

Had Everton been able to hold out a bit longer, they might well have gone on to win because Tottenham had caused them few problems in the second half. And it was the visitors who would go closest to claiming the three points in the closing stages when Lucas Digne’s excellent chipped cross picked out Tosun but the Turk could only plant his header into Lloris’s grateful arms.

So a point at Tottenham to end a season that began and ended in hugely encouraging fashion but which was ultimately undermined in critical fashion by a run of relegation form over the winter months. That, combined with the hope that there will be injection of more genuine quality over the summer, should fill Evertonians with plenty of optimism going into the 2019-20 season.

Question marks remain over the futures of Zouma and Gomes — as popular as the latter is, it’s the potential loss of the former that is arguably the more concerning, particularly given Mina’s suspect start to life in England — but there is clear evidence of a structure, a plan and a process about Silva’s work at Goodison now that points the way to a more stable and competitive future for Everton.

Note: A criticism of Mina conceding a needless corner for Tottenham's first goal has been corrected above after further viewing of the replay.

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Reader Comments (16)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 12/05/2019 at 23:32:29
Yes, Lyndon, there are definite signs that Everton have the potential framework of a good team and the wherewithal to improve more. What's more, players will know this and it is a good omen regarding the potential transfers of Zouma and Gomes.
Jim Bennings
2 Posted 12/05/2019 at 23:52:48
Can’t complain in any way shape or form the way we have ended the season with the exception of two horror shows at Newcastle and Fulham.

Defensively we’ve been steady, form at Goodison has been solid, and we have played Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, United and Spurs and taken 11 points from that group.

Silva seems to get what it means to the fans and is probably the first manager since the early Roberto Martinez era that could strike up a real understanding with Evertonians.

Koeman and Allardyce were simply detached from the support and never likely to gain any rapport.

However Everton under Marco Silva feels different, there’s been huge signs with the atmosphere and feel good factor recently to suggest that it would be criminal if we don’t build on this momentum during the summer and hit the ground running in August.

Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 12/05/2019 at 00:03:17
All in, today's game at Spurs, a great result. Well done, Evertonians!
Don Alexander
4 Posted 13/05/2019 at 00:07:28
We've been here before, often, but this summer please let it be the first time in decades where the club's fortunes are not dependent on Kenwright. We need a break from him for as long as he's existent.
David Pearl
5 Posted 13/05/2019 at 00:47:21
Well Don, that's your last 2 post saying "Fuck off, Bill!" Are you sure that's what you want? He is teaching Moshiri all things blue

Lyndon, good report, thank you. Isn't that ironic, hey? A lot of this game is confidence. In each other, in themselves and in the coach. A lot more trust should be given to the players though. Kane gets injured and Moura and Son step up. Salad gets tossed and Origi steps up.

I think we need to give time to Mina. He will be better next season. Small mistakes cost points in this league. Pickford cost us 2 against the shite. Probably more.

I actually saw us play with 4 at the back, and not 3. While in transition it appears to be 3 at times. I think Silva wanted a stronger player on that right hand side. I'm sure Kenny would be very disappointed to miss out.

At the end of the day Silva gets himself good Mark's this game. He changed it around, due to injuries, and we did well. I didn't think the players would be up for it but again they did well. Now for a superstar scorer. And please Gomes, If we do sign you full-time, stop the stupid giveaways and free kicks.

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 13/05/2019 at 02:03:00
A solid enough finish to the season. Despite all the Gomes fanboys rapure, I'm not totally convinced. Giving away silly fouls and his suspension was not before time, he's done it a few times and got lucky.

He was at fault for their goal twice, once for the daft free-kick and secondly he and his partner on the end of the wall let a Spurs player get between them to open them up, who then promptly ducked down for Erikson to score through the gap: defensive wall 101.

He and Schneiderlin both flatter to deceive, but Gomes does more stylishly, hence the fanboys. But in overall end product did we miss him? No. It doesn't say much when the bang average Schneiderlin is your 'adequate' replacement.

By all means get him if the price, wages, etc is right, but if he didn't sign for what ever reason, it be a big 'Meh' from me and move on to the next target.

Gueye though, he's a keeper... if we can.

Terry White
7 Posted 13/05/2019 at 03:16:08
David (#5), I'm afraid Don has a one-track mind when it comes to Mr Kenwright.
Christopher Timmins
8 Posted 13/05/2019 at 08:11:09
Lyndon, a very good end to the season, 21 points over the final 11 games tells its own story. When you also take into account that we played the following during that period, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs, the points tally looks even more impressive.

Hopefully, the 17-day break in February was the time when Silva sorted things out and that, going forward, we will never endure the run that we had from 1 December to 28 February when we picked up 14 points from 15 games.

The decision to sack the previous manager at the end of last season has been justified, we accumulated 5 more points in this campaign and our performances against the top 6 were a lot better. There is scope, with a successful transfer window, to be aiming for the mid-60s points-wise next year which should have us pretty close to the top 6.

I do acknowledge, however, that Silva has to achieve in year two what no Everton manager has achieved in a long time and that is to have a better second full season than the first. Silva has shown that he can come through a crisis and now we must place our trust in him.

Gerry Quinn
9 Posted 13/05/2019 at 08:38:16
"Everton participation in this season's Premier League will earn them £125.7million of TV money, it can be revealed.

The north London club are to pocket the huge sum of broadcasting revenue as a result of their eighth-place finish and 18 of their matches being shown on Sky Sports and BT Sports."

...and I thought that was Spurs' new stadium, not ours! :)

Paul Le Marinel
10 Posted 13/05/2019 at 12:59:45
A positive end to the season. Despite having Seamus Coleman, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured, I thought we did well to come away from that game with a point.

And another positive end to the season was Man City winning the title and thousands of reds ending up disappointed. What a joy to behold!

It will certainly be a busy summer, as will Idrissa Gueye be convinced to stay at Everton? I do hope so. Can we sign Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma on permanent deals? I think a deal for Andre Gomes is possible, but a deal for Kurt Zouma may prove challenging, when you consider that Chelsea recently had rejected their appeal against a two transfer window ban.

And then of course, there is the big list of players that have been on loan:

Mason Holgate, Antonee Robinson, Beni Baningime, Nikola Vlasic, Henry Onyekuru, Luke Garbutt, Kieran Dowell, Shani Tarashaj, Callum Connolly, Joe Williams, Antony Evans, Shayne Lavery, Joe Hilton, Kevin Mirallas, Muhamed Besic, Yannick Bolasie, Kevin Mirallas, Ashley Williams, Oumar Niasse, Sandro Ramirez, Cuco Martina,

It is one heck of a long list and naturally not all of those players will be kept at Everton, but I do wonder of which of the younger players in that list we will hang on to.

Hopefully we will have a good summer transfer window, a positive pre-season and come back stronger at the start of next season.

Matthew Williams
11 Posted 13/05/2019 at 13:37:02
How long were we in-front for again? Sigh.

I'm glad Tosun scored though...

Sandra Bowen
12 Posted 13/05/2019 at 16:14:12
Lyndon, can I just correct you on quite an important detail in your report please. Mina was actually trying to prevent a corner(he’s not that stupid) as Kyle Walker peters had already played the ball of Digne, I was sat right by the incident and whilst it’s hard to pick out on tv, it looped off him and was going behind for a corner.
I had to correct a couple of idiots beside me at the game too, one a quite disgusting racist Pratt who didn’t have a single good word to say about anyone. Not really sure why these tits go to the game to be honest. Is it just to let out anger from day to day lives? I don’t know but they don’t seem to enjoy the football or like any of our players.

Anyway, plenty of positives to build on over the summer. I like most, crave that we keep our best players and add 2/3 really solid additions. Silva has had his slump, recovered and improved results and that bodes well for all of us as it was always a question mark against him.

Enjoy the summer all.

Lyndon Lloyd
13 Posted 13/05/2019 at 17:49:22
Thank you, Sandra (12). You are right – I just watched the replay and I now see that the ball took a flick off Digne's head and that's why Mina was trying to prevent the corner. I have amended the report above.

My concerns over Mina remain pending further evidence once he has had more time to adjust. The lad is 6' 5", can be a beast in opposition areas from attacking set-pieces but struggles to command anything in his own box. It's weird but hopefully he can come good with more Premier League experience.

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 13/05/2019 at 18:16:41
Lyndon #13, I have no doubts about Mina.

I have no doubts that his errors are going to give us gray hair and conniptions the first few months of next season as he completes his adjustment to the Prem.

And I have no doubts he's going to be one of the top young CBs in the league by the end of next season.

As I mentioned in the other thread, in addition to his physical gifts, Mina has supreme confidence -- bollocks like basketballs is how I put it. How many rookies would make their debut at Stamford Bridge and be MOTM in a shutout, while also nearly launching Hazard into the upper deck? How many would turn in such a fearless performance at Mordor just two weeks later?

He will certainly have his awkward moments early on, but I'm convinced he'll come good. More than good.

Jamie Crowley
15 Posted 13/05/2019 at 18:22:02
I couldn't agree more with Mike @14.

Mina has had an injury riddled season. If the kid is healthy, and that is indeed a big, big if, I think he has all the tools to become an outstanding CB.

Well said Mike. I, too, am, convinced he'll come good.

Patience. Not exactly a strength of many. But with Mina, Davies, DCL, etc., it's needed. And not an easy ask of fans who haven't won anything in forever. :0(

Charles Brewer
16 Posted 14/05/2019 at 19:32:04
Well, looking back on the season, I think it was generally satisfactory. The highlight, and long to be remembered is that we stopped the RS from winning the title. Hahahahahahah! Here is their new them tune:

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