In this round of Premier League fixtures in the 2019/20 season, Everton took on Tottenham Hotspur. This game had a lot riding on it as both teams came into the game having lost their last Premier League fixture. With the pressure high on both managers, a good result was important.
This tactical analysis article will focus on the way the two managers approached this game and the tactics they used to try and win this Premier League fixture. As a win for Tottenham could have taken them a point off sixth.
With a defeat in their last game, it is no surprise that Marco Silva made both changes in the team and to the formation, as Fabian Delph came in for Bernard this enabled Silva to play 4-1-4-1. This system allows Everton to have a lot of numbers in the middle of the pitch and try to control the midfield.
Mauricio Pochettino also had to make changes for this game with Harry Kane suffering from an illness he needed another option. In a similar way to Silva, he also went with one up top but with three very attacking players behind him and two holding midfielders for defensive cover in a 4-2-3-1.
From the outset, it is clear the two gameplans from the teams. Everton wanted to make it as difficult as possible for Tottenham to play through the lines with four midfielders limiting the space available, whereas Spurs were looking for either Tanguy Ndombele or Moussa Sissoko to get the ball to the three players in front of them. This shows the numbers Everton have to control the space in the middle:
However, this is a dangerous approach as if Spurs can get the ball through it takes five players out of the game. and in this particular image, this does happen as Ndombele does get the ball to Son. As a result, Spurs have a chance to break with 5-on-4 as Ben Davies has pushed high up the pitch. Everton manages to survive this scare as Lucas Moura hesitates on the ball allowing Delph to get back into position and stop the threat.
With the Toffees pushing men up the pitch, it made it very difficult for them to build an attack as in a similar way to what they were doing to spurs. This is because with only one defensive midfielder in Delph and four Tottenham attackers there is not much space to operate in. Because of this, Everton are often forced back to Jordan Pickford who has to kick it long.
The half continues in this way as Spurs’ lack of confidence means they are not prepared to take risks, meaning they often take the easy option on the ball. Also, the Spurs forwards were not moving out of position to look for the ball and drag a defender out of place resulting in not many options on the ball, often meaning the ball just went round the back.
This made it easy for Everton as they can just shift over when the ball is moved across and because it is not done with much pace Everton have time to adjust.
A possible sign that the game might improve and there may be chances is when Everton was rewarded with their press as they can win the ball on the right-hand side of the pitch and quickly get the ball to André Gomes who sees the run of Richarlison. And with the Tottenham midfielders out of the game, it was a good chance to have a go at the defence. nevertheless the Brazilian forward is not sure what to do on the ball and ends up hitting his shot straight at Toby Alderweireld.
Improved Second Half?
Despite neither team creating any chances of note both managers did not feel the need to change anything at half time. However, Tottenham came out with much more intensity and looked to move the ball around quickly this lead to one of the major talking points in the game.
A poor pass from Alex Iwobi on the edge of the Spurs penalty area meant that Ndombele was able to find Dele Alli in the middle of the pitch who saw the run of Son Heung-min. This was Tottenham’s most dangerous attack of the game so far as it enabled Son to be 1v1 with Yerry Mina. Almost unsurprisingly when Son cut back inside there was a coming together between the two bringing Son down. Nevertheless, both the referee and VAR saw nothing wrong with it, therefore, nothing was given.
Considering how the game had been going it was not surprising that the first goal came from a mistake. Again it was the former Arsenal man in Iwobi that let the North Londoners take the lead as a poor pass to nobody meant that all of Everton’s midfielders were out of position. More critically so was Djibril Sidibé as Silva likes his full-backs to push high. This meant that after Son had gathered the loose pass he was able to find Alli who had the freedom of the left-hand side of the pitch. As a result, he was able to slot the ball calmly past Pickford.
The goal meant that Everton needed to change it up and the way Silva went about it was to put on Cenk Tosun. The idea of this was so Everton had a more natural striker who might be able to hold the ball up better than Richarlison, who is better at running at defenders than holding it up.
Unfortunately, the game took a turn for the worst completely changing both managers tactics in the game as Son’s mistimed tackle meant that Gomes fell badly into Serge Aurier. This caused Gomes to have a horrific ankle injury which nobody ever wants to see in football especially as it was an unfortunate coming together.
For the game, it meant that Son was sent off and Silva was forced into a change, with Gylfi Sigurðsson already prepared to come on the Everton boss decided to make a double substitution bringing Tom Davies. This meant the Toffees switched to a 4-1-2-1-2 system as with more forwards on the pitch and Tottenham being a man down it was harder for them to get out.
This paid dividends for the home side as (due to the injury) they were able to find an equalizer in the seventh minute of the 12 added on. The goal happened as a few Tottenham midfielders didn’t track back deep enough and Everton were able to overload the penalty area with forwards meaning a fantastic first-time ball in from Lucas Digne was able to find the onrushing Tosun who was determined to get to the ball first in front of Jan Vertonghen making it 1-1.
To conclude this tactical analysis, neither manager will be particularly happy with the result as both teams will feel like they should be higher up in the table than they currently are and a draw does not help them achieve this. the Everton coach will be able to take to heart in the fact his team was able to come back into the game even though it was a defensive mistake that gave Tottenham their lead.
Pochettino will come away from this game yet again disappointed as his team did not offer much going forward especially since Everton have been struggling defensively this season