Spurs finished the season with a well earned win, leaving them a creditable fifth. Not as many points as last year but a higher placed finish. It felt better too.
Whatever Tottenham fans feel about this season, a look at our opponents shows the grass is not always greener. Despite having Roberto Martinez, a much praised manager, and
Romalu Lukaku, a player many Spurs fans wanted in the summer – myself included – it’s been a miserable season for the Merseysiders.
Last year Everton were fifth, one place above Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham. This time round they failed to even make the top half of the table, sitting in eleventh position, level on points with Sam Allardyce’s West Ham.
Injuries amongst the Spurs fullbacks have left Pochettino with a selection headache of late. Peculiarly, the solution here was to field Nabil Bentaleb at left back. The Algerian didn’t look too out of place. He easily topped the team for tackles and interceptions while providing an option out wide.
The switch allowed Dembele back into midfield which seemed to provide the team with some balance. The first half was one of the better performances of the season from Pochettino’s side, although Everton played into our hands somewhat – they seem to play a blend of open yet passive football.
Spurs dominated possession, winning it back quickly as soon as Everton briefly got hold of the ball. In midfield we were moving it quickly with quick passing and good movement.
The first real chance came for Lamela as Eriksen won the ball and played him in. The Argentine did well to get a shot off but Howard was equal to it.
Soon after Everton had a sight of goal as Mirallas found himself clean through. His tame shot was gratefully collected by Lloris. The Belgian winger was Everton’s most dangerous player, alongside debutante Brendan Galloway whose energy caused Spurs problems.
Harry Kane has had a minor goal drought recently. He hadn’t registered in the last four games but here he reaffirmed his poaching credentials.
Bentaleb swung in a cross and ridiculously both Spurs players in the box fell over. The ball came back out to Dier who delivered a fantastic ball – his ability to put in a cross has been one of the stories of the end of our season. This time Kane made no mistake, getting between the Everton centre backs to glance the ball into the far corner.
As time ran out on the first half, Everton had their best opportunity. Barclay sliding in Coleman whose shot across goal was palmed away by Lloris. It was a sign of things to come as the home side wrestled back some of the momentum after the break.
The second half was something of a non-event. After a first period that showed the movement and passing we have been missing, the second was a triumph for our much criticised defence. Mirallas had chances, Lloris saved at the feet of Galloway but it never felt like Spurs lead was under that much threat.
With 60% of the possession and out-shooting our opponents 16-9 this was a deserved Spurs victory. Taking fifth place might not mean that much but finishing above loud-mouthed Liverpool and Pochettino’s old boys on the south coast, was a nice ending to the season.
We now enter the dreaded Europa League but at least this victory puts us straight into the group phase, avoiding the disruptive effect of the early qualifying rounds.
Here’s to next season.
Is it good we made the Europa League? Was this a better season than last year? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.