If Everton had teased at what they were capable of at times in their five previous meetings with the top five this season, this afternoon’s meeting with Tottenham in front of the Sky Sports cameras was supposed to be the moment where they finally fulfilled that promise on home turf against a “big six” team.
The attacking adventure at the Emirates ultimately let down only by poor finishing and the fine form of Petr Cech, defensively robust displays at Stamford Bridge and Anfield where, again, chances to score went begging, not to mention some promising spells at Old Trafford… it all hinted at what the new Everton, the positive, attack-minded Marco Silva Everton, could produce.
With the backing of the Goodison Park faithful and fuelled by the determination to make up for the significant disappointments of the Anfield defeat and the twin failures to beat Newcastle and Watford, it was hoped that the Blues could finally put together a complete performance. Instead, a veritable nightmare before Christmas unfolded at a stunned Goodison as Spurs meted out a thrashing of unforeseen proportions.
It left any notion that Silva’s nascent Everton revolution was at the point where it could keep the top five within reach and capitalise on any continued upheaval at Manchester United this season in tatters for the time being. This team is miles away from being able to touch that elite clutch of clubs and there can be no doubt about the scale of the task required to bridge that gap.
This was an agonising result on a weekend where supposedly inferior teams like Crystal Palace and Leicester achieved what Everton couldn’t do in recent weeks and that was win away against a top-5 team. It’s now 23 games since a Toffees side recorded a win over England’s six richest clubs and if they play like they did today, it’ll be a good deal longer before they get another.
Once again, this was a game littered with poor performances up and down the Everton ranks with only Lucas Digne, Gylfi Sigurdsson and, perhaps, Dominic Calvert-Lewin emerging with any credit. Sigurdsson helped create one goal with Calvert-Lewin and scored with a brilliant solo effort of his own while the young striker was hugely unfortunate to have a header disallowed which, when coupled with the episode of Keystone Cops at the other that would follow shortly afterwards, proved pivotal in the contest.
Where the rest are concerned, it’s hard to know where to begin. Jordan Pickford added another howler to further tarnish the glowing reputation he took from the World Cup in Russia; Richarlison was anonymous save for two off-target headers; Theo Walcott converted the opening goal with aplomb but did nothing else for 90 minutes; Tom Davies, André Gomes (before he went off injured) and Morgan Schneiderlin (after he had come on for the Portuguese) cut gallingly vulnerable figures without the injured Idrissa Gueye when they didn’t have the ball; and, with a black hole of a midfield in front of them, the rest of the back four simply caved as Spurs romped through them seemingly at will at times.
The players’ collective display, as bad as anything the Goodison faithful were forced to endure last season under three different managers, only told half the story, though. The other component of this pitiful collapse was breathtakingly naïve tactics by their manager and a stunning inability or refusal to make any alterations to address a midfield being badly overrun.
Seemingly trying to play Spurs at their own game with an attacking bent, a dangerously high defensive line, and the (inconsistent) high press, they invited one of the most dangerous teams in the country to pick them off with balls over the top or into the channels or simply parted the waters to allow the visitors to stream through.
Harry Kane helped himself to yet another brace, the hugely impressive Hueng-Min Son bagged two of his own and there were crisp first-time strikes from Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to underline the talent that has been assembled at Tottenham in recent years. They stand as the example that Everton must follow but it feels like an awfully long road on days like these.
Silva was rightly aggrieved by the decision from Paul Tierney to chalk off Calvert-Lewin’s accomplished header that arced over Hugo Lloris and into the corner of the net in the 23rd minute. Had it been allowed to stand, it might have led to a very different result because two goals to the good, Everton might have adopted a very different posture.
In truth, even though it was the hosts who created the first real chance which Richarlison couldn’t steer on goal, Tottenham had already shown how threatening they could be before Everton took the lead, largely against the run of play.
Kane was put in behind the Blues’ defence in the 12th minute but chipped his shot into the side-netting, Son benefitted from a marginal offside non-decision and an awful call not to flag the ball as being a foot over the byline before cutting the ball back to Kieran Trippier but Pickford saved well, before Kane drove a direct free-kick wide.
Everton produced what would prove to be a rare piece of quality to go ahead shortly afterwards, though. Sigurdsson capitalised when a Harry Winks mis-judged a high bounce and threaded a beautiful pass through to Calvert-Lewin who held Trippier off expertly before cutting the ball back to Walcott to forced it home with a first-time finish.
It should have been 2-0 after just minutes later after Kane had flashed a shot just inches over Pickford’s bar and had Everton not been robbed by another awful refereeing decision, it might have been a different game but in the context of the Blues going forward under Silva, what followed was hugely instructive and contained a raft of lessons that will or won’t be heeded in the coming months.
The match was 27 minutes old when Kane pinged a first-time pass over the top which Kurt Zouma looked to have under control before Pickford arrived on the scene five yards outside his penalty area. The pair got in each other’s way, the ball broke to Son who curled it expertly inside the far post with unerring accuracy.
Then, in what would become a theme of the afternoon, the visitors cut through Everton’s midfield and defence with ease twice in the space of a few minutes. In the first instance, Kane placed his effort wide but in the second, no one had tracked Alli as Son tested Pickford and saw his shot beaten back towards the penalty spot by the keeper and the England midfielder stabbed a low drive home.
And things went from bad to worse three minutes before the break as Trippier lined up a direct free kick that struck the base of the post, rebounded to Kane who tucked it into the empty net to make it 3-1 at half-time.
Whatever Silva tried to do, if anything, at half-time to stem the white tide, there was barely any time for it to bear fruit before Tottenham scored again three minutes into the second half. Again, it was so easy for Pochettino’s men: a dinked ball down the right channel picked out Kane who took it in his stride before putting it into the centre of the Blues’ area. Seamus Coleman stooped to head clear but only succeeded in guiding it straight to Eriksen who had been left completely open to deliver a well-struck shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the D.
Everton got one back three minutes after that, briefly threatening to make a game of it as Sigurdsson collected Richarlison’s pass, dribbled his way across the edge of the box to evade two defenders before cutting a shot back across Lloris who, diving the opposite way, could only help it into the net.
It felt very much like a consolation even at that early stage as there was an air of futility about Everton and after their misery was compounded by an injury to Gomes that saw him limp off to be replaced by Schneiderlin, Spurs tore through them again on the hour mark.
Erik Lamela, himself recently introduced in place of Alli, powered past Davies and bore down on the home defence before playing in Son who again escaped the assistant’s flag before beating Pickford with his shot to register the away side’s fifth.
And the South Korean turned provider with another embarrassingly simple goal with 15 minutes left when Ben Davies knocked the ball down the line, Son crossed to Kane who had drifted off Zouma and slid in to steer the ball inside the far post and round off a six-goal display from Spurs.
Richarlison was withdrawn in favour of Bernard, no doubt with the Boxing Day trip to Burnley in mind, and the tricky Brazilian had some nice moments but the only thing Everton really produced in the closing stages was a Sigurdsson shot that deflected to Lloris while Eriksen went very close to adding a seventh but his effort took a nick off a defender and went wide.
This was a game and performance that coldly and starkly reset expectations of this Everton side at a stroke and posed serious questions of Silva, ones he needs to answer in the coming weeks of these sorts of results aren’t to be repeated against the best sides.
The Blues’ high line and defensive ineptitude were ruthlessly exposed by a team worthy of being considered in the title reckoning and Gueye, a player maligned for his passing weaknesses, was sorely missed as the disruptor in central midfield.
The belief following the previous games against the top six that all we needed was a striker was exposed as fallacy — there are deeper, more fundamental problems that begin with the manager and run right through a squad that looks light years behind the Premier League’s six other ever-present clubs, all of whom look significantly stronger and better organised.
It is now not just a question of recruitment but one also of coaching and the need for a young manager to quickly learn from the error in judgement of trying to take the game to a dangerous and superior outfit while leaving the back door wide open.
A 6-2 drubbing is bitter-tasting medicine but in tearing down the illusion that a few months’ worth of transfer business and a more positive approach from the dugout has propelled this Everton side to the brink of the top six, it could end up being a useful reality check… but only if the lessons are learned and the mistakes put right.
Everton took the lead well through Walcott only to gift four goals to Tottenham in a depressing show of seasonable generosity at Goodison Park.
Theo Walcott returned to Everton's starting line-up - one of two changes from the side that started the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on 15 December.
Tom Davies was also recalled while Yerry Mina was dropped to the bench along with Brazilian forward Bernard. Idrissa Gueye was still out injured and Lookman did not appear in the squad, his place on the bench taken by Oumar Niasse, who has not appeared there for a Premier League game since mid-September.Mauricio Pochettino mades four changes to the Tottenham side that started the last league game. Colombia defender Davinson Sanchez mades his first top-flight start since 29 October after injury, while there were recalls for Son Heung-min, Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen. Danny Rose, Oliver Skipp, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura dropped to the substitutes bench.
It was cagey stuff early on, with few indications of how the game would eventually go, Sigurdsson getting clattered by Sanchez, the ball going out of play numerous times in the first 3 mins. Richarlison tried a forward ball that was overhit.
High pressing by Calvert-Lewin forced Sanchez to handle on the edge of his area but, of course, not given. Some great movement from Everton looked to play in Walcott a couple of times but the former Arsenal man could not produce an end-product
Coleman was looking to play the long ball down the right wing but so far it had been well defended. Alli fouled Davies but the free-kick was played sideways. Sigurdsson had a great probing run, the cross perfect to Richarlison who headed wide, a glorious chance gone begging and Spurs were immediately in Everton's area,
Kane easily fouled Zouma to get in behind and came very close to lobbing one in over Pickford — a massive warning sign. Son then got forward and took the ball over the line before cutting back for Trippier, Pickford saving well.
Kane got the ball in behind but was flagged offside this time. However, Spurs were now threatening in a serious manner, Kane through again, tackled robustly by Zouma to dispossess him.
Walcott had a chance to create but passed instead to a Spurs defender, initiating another fearsome Spurs surge upfield. Everton kept going forward down the right side but too much reliance on the inaccurate long ball. A poor cross-ball by Digne was intercepted and the Spurs attack earned a central distant free-kick, lashed wide by Kane.
A great pick-out by Sig gave Calvert-Lewin a great chance to get forward and his perfect cut-back to Walcott was rammed home with great delight by the ex-Arsenal man. Slightly against the run of play perhaps, but a goal scored with some fine football from Everton.
Kane went for glory at the other end, the ball dropping just over Pickford. At the other end, and excellent header by Calvert-Lewin off a deflected cross from Walcott but it was disallowed, the defender Sanchez making the most of a feeble touch on his back. Oh for VAR!
Spurs were looking very dangerous going forward and Pickford rashly came out to get in Zouma's way on a bouncing long ball, Son benefiting ridiculously with a good finish into the empty Everton net. A horrible mess between Pickford and Zouma destroying all the good work so far.
Ricarlison looked to run forward down his favoured left-channel but his ball to Sig was again overhit. At the other end, Spurs waltzed through, Kane firing wide of Pickford, looking sad over another incongruous cock-up.
Trippier earned a yellow card for an unintentional high boot on Calvert-Lewin. Everton's big striker was then called for a push in the back. Everton were passing the ball well enough but the build-up was too laboured to fool Pochettino's men, Walcott overhitting his cross.
Spurs showed them how to do it, a rapid counter with Son getting free behind the Everton defence, Pickford pushing out his shot nicely for Dele Alli to lash the ball into the Gwladys Street net.
Gomes dispossessed Sissoko and Sigurdsson fired a pass to Walcott but he was immediately double-teamed, with Calvert-Lewin fouling as he fought to win back the loose ball. Zouma caught the back of Son's heel, removing his boot, for a very dangerous free-kick. Trippier sent a screamer round the wall, smacking off the post thanks to Pickford's fingertips in a determined lunging dive, and there was Harry Kane who could not miss, despite two defenders seemingly closer to the ball.
Goodison Park was massively deflated as Everton and played out the remaining minutes without threatening, apart from Pickford doing a nice two-footed lunge on Alli after the whistle had gone, that perhaps could have drawn a sterner punishment from Referee Paul Tierney.
Alli did not reappear, Lamela on in his place, with predictably, no changes from Marco Silva. Sigurdsson won an early corner but the delivery was hardly testing... meat and drink for the Spurs back line.
Another gift made it 4-1, with just 3 minutes gone in the second half. Kanes's cross headed out by Coleman straight to Eriksen who fired in a superb strike beyond Pickford. Lambs to the slaughter.
Stinging no doubt from justified criticism Sigurdsson showed exactly what he is capable of, picking up a great ball from Richarlison and cutting across the Spurs area, dragging defenders with him, before picking his spot with a brilliant reverse shot that totally fooled Lloris. Schneiderlin then replaced Gomes, a very strange move from Silva.
Schneiderlin's first contribution was an impossible ball for Coleman to chase out of play. But Everton were at least playing up, Spurs patiently waiting their chance to pick off one of the many sloppy passes. They eventually slice through, Son slotting easily past Pickford. Embarrassing. The first 'clean' goal for the visitors after four nice Yuletide gifts from the home side.
A free-kick was taken well enough by Sigursdsson after Eriksen was booked for not retreating, and Digne crossed in superbly from the clearance but Richarlison's header was off-target.
With 17 minutes left, Spurs made it six, a fine ball in from Son after beating Digne down the Everton, Kane scoring his second with consummate ease. Bernard replaced Richarlison as the Goodison faithful abandoned the ground in droves.
Sigurdsson saw a deflected shot saved by Lloris. At the other end, Kane wanted to make it seven for his hat-trick but his progress toward the Everton goal was thwarted.
Another dangerous free-kick for Spurs inside the last 5 minutes saw Eriksen's low drive deflected just wide. Bernard fired in a late corner that came to nothing. Digne tried an intelligent cross late on that was deflected then defended away, Schneiderlin's late volley blocked by Skipp.
Paul Tierney finally brought things to a painful end for the few Blues that remained at the end of a very sad and sorry Everton display.
Scorers: Walcott (21'), Sigurdsson (51'); Son (27', 61'), Alli (35'), Kane (42', 74'), Eriksen (68')
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gomes (53' Schneiderlin), Davies; Richarlison (753' Bernard), Sigurdsson (81' Tosun), Walcott; Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Mina, Baines, Niasse.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier [Y:32'], Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Winks, Sissoko (83' Lucas); Eriksen [Y:71'], Alli (46' Lamlea), Son (79' Skipp); Kane.
Subs not Used: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Rose, Walker-Peters.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Everton's quest for a first win in five games meets one of the Premier League's more immovable objects as third-placed Tottenham come to Goodison Park for the 4pm Sunday kick-off.
The Blues have lost to the top two and drawn against Newcastle and Watford since they last picked up three points against Cardiff City and it's seen them drop to eighth place and some 10 points behind the top five.
They have the chance to at least leapfrog Wolves this weekend if they can register their first victory over Spurs since Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelvavic's dramatic late strikes wrested victory from the jaws of defeat in December 2012. In the intervening years, it was a tale of a number of draws and one slender final-day win for the Londoners at Goodison Park until last season when Everton under Ronald Koeman laid out the welcome mat and were walked all over in a 3-0 drubbing.
This promises to be another testing encounter against a side that has proved it travels very well but whatever the outcome, Evertonians can hopefully expect a bit more fight than the solitary shot on target they mustered across the two meetings with Mauricio Pochettino's men last term.
It's also the first opportunity that Marco Silva-edition Everton have had to test their mettle against a top-six team on home turf. The meetings with the other top five saw more spirit, attacking invention and gumption from the Blues but returned just the one meagre point. Here is a chance to show that this Toffees outfit can go head-to-head with the big boys and triumph; it would be the first such win since the 4-0 win over Manchester City the season before last and it would be long overdue.
In order to achieve it, though, Silva must again try and resolve the increasingly vexing issue of Everton's wastefulness in the final third and a general lack of firepower from anyone not called Richarlison. Together with the jaded-looking Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Brazilian has been shouldering the bulk of the goalscoring burden this season but Dominic Calvert-Lewin has demonstrated that he can chip in with vital goals and he won't have done his case any harm with the one he scored at the Etihad last weekend which gave the Toffees a flicker of hope before City killed the game shortly afterwards with their third goal.
Indeed, it would not be surprising in the least to see the young striker handed another start in this one to prove that he is worthy of filling the centre-forward role, at least until attempts can be made to bolster that area of the team next month.
Whether Silva persists with the three-man central defence remains to be seen, however, and much may depend on whether Idrissa Gueye is passed fit to play after missing the last game with a groin injury. Tom Davies is waiting in the wings should the manager elect to revert to a flat back four and reinstate another holding central midfielder alongside André Gomes while James McCarthy appears ready to, perhaps, start being involved off the bench now that he is getting stronger following his double leg break.
As ever, the wide positions are somewhat up in the air. Bernard got the nod over Theo Walcott last week and again showed flashes of his ability against City but it was Ademola Lookman who came off the bench to out-shine the Brazilian and make a case again for his inclusion from the start. The England U21 player has yet to fully grasp the opportunity of a starting berth and that could see him start as a substitute once more, at least for this game, with plenty of chances ahead in what is a congested part of the fixture list over the next fortnight.
For their part, Tottenham come to Merseyside on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including impressive away performances at the Nou Camp in the Champions League and the Emirates against Arsenal in the League Cup in midweek.
Harry Kane was only a sub in the latter tie because of a cold but, like Richarlison and Gomes for Everton, he is expected to have shaken off illness in time to play. The England star scored twice in both games against the Blues last season so shackling him will, no doubt, be a key focus for Silva.
Everton are long overdue a performance against Spurs let alone a win so the hope is that the Goodison crowd can create an atmosphere worthy of the occasion and the Blues can respond with the kind of stirring display they will need to overcome one of the strongest teams in the country.
Kick-off: 4pm, Sunday 23 December 2018
Referee: Paul Tierney
Last Time: Everton 0 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Zouma, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin