Spurs earned a vital win against rivals Everton but unfortunately the performance didn’t match the result. Should a manager be judged on how well the team played or the result? Of course, against a top six rival getting the three points is paramount and Sherwood has to be commended on this. There are however some questions to be raised.
Tottenham have had problems starting slowly in matches and this was evident again here. Everton created several chances in the first 20 minutes and only a combination of poor finishing and Hugo Lloris kept the score at 0-0. Sherwood admitted this was a problem in his post match comments. Could this be because the opposition manager surprises Sherwood with his initial tactics? This has to be dealt with, whether it is this, a lack of focus, preparation or a motivational issue.
Spurs settled after this initial period although it still felt as if Everton were in control. Everton were very successful at recovering the ball, Spurs often gave away possession. The final stats were 54% to 46% in the visitor’s favour.
Both teams relied heavily on attacks down the left. This is very common for Everton as Leighton Baines is their most potent attacking weapon (as discussed in our preview). He was very involved and had the most touches of any player on either side. Below is a breakdown of each team’s attacks from WhoScored.com, Everton are in red.
It is however unusual for Spurs to concentrate play on the left hand side. Eriksen drifted infield and ended up virtually playing as a support striker to Adebayor. Rose then overlapped with varying success, while Walker was pushed back by Baines and Pienaar.
With Dembele and Paulinho back from injury it was interesting to see whether Sherwood would drop Bentaleb. He ended up opting for a system that included all three at the expense of moving Eriksen to the left. Essentially he choose to play his favourite eleven players but this meant the side lacked balance. It was a tough decision but Eriksen is our most creative player and moving him out wide means he doesn’t get as involved in the game, then drifts infield. I would have dropped Bentaleb for a winger, then played Eriksen as a number 10.
Again Sherwood refused to play a more defensive midfielder. Bentaleb covered while Dembele played furthest forward of the central trio. He is very good in possession but tends to slow play down, Paulinho is more dynamic. This combined with a lack of movement, especially in midfield, led to a slow, laboured performance, the complete opposite to Liverpool’s a day earlier.
If Lukau had been available or even if Everton had not sold Jelavic it could have been a very different result. Naismith played as the lone striker but it was Osman, arriving from midfield, who the chances fell to.
Everton’s defence was solid for most of the match but switched off as Walker opportunistically took a quick free kick. He chipped the ball beautifully to Adebayor who held off two defenders as he finished clinically, showing the value of an in form striker.