Everton vs Spurs preview: tactical strengths and weaknesses

Everton vs Spurs is how we open the new Premier League season so we look at tactics to stop their strengths and attack their weaknesses.

We’ve had some good battles with Ronald Koeman during his two seasons in the Premier League. He impressively rebuilt and quickly shaped an excellent Southampton side. Now he has moved on to start to mould a Toffees team in to his own image. His frst game will be Everton vs Spurs a good test for both sides.

Ready to go?

At Goodison Koeman appears to have many of the weapons in place to set up his system. Two adventurous full backs that can supply width and crosses in Baines and Coleman. A big target man in Lukaku, that they can not only get the ball forward to quickly, but is also a major target for crosses. Out wide, he has a tricky winger that can supply balls in to the box or make attacking dribbles through the inside channels, like Dusan Tadic did, in Gerard Deulofeu.

A key player in Koeman’s setup is the wide forward.  He has to burst off the striker in Sadio Mane-esque fashion, which means that Kevin Mirallas’ career could be revitalised.  On top of this, Ross Barkley will nicely fill the Steven Davis role. So, Koeman’s new charges should hit the ground running.

Where Everton should concede chances

Ronald Koeman sides play very much in the Dutch mould. This includes the full backs and they are encouraged to get forward at every opportunity. Their job is to supply crosses for the striker, which means they can get caught up the field.

At Southampton the problem area was always to teams that could get behind left back Ryan Bertrand. We exposed this space in the four Premier League games that we played against Koeman’s Saints over the last two seasons.

There was the Dele Alli goal in our 2-0 win down at St. Mary’s. Kyle Walker got in to the empty left back zone to find Alli running in to the space beyond right back Cedric Soares.


Walker gets in to the vacant LB zone to cross for Alli.

In the return at White Hart Lane, Son jetted in to the empty left back zone to score the opener.


Bertrand caught inside as Son hits his space outside.

The season before saw Erik Lamela bundle in with his arm/chest from Eric Dier’s cross from the vacant Southampton left back zone. Nacer Chadli followed this up by then getting in through the empty space that Bertrand left behind him to make it 2-2.

At Everton he will have the trusty Leighton Baines at left back. We all know about Baines’ excellent set piece delivery and pinpoint crosses, which will serve the Everton attack extremely well. However, Baines, whilst being very switched on defensively, doesn’t always have the foot speed that is required to get rapidly up and down the pitch. This should see teams that can get the ball forward before he can recover his position having success in attacking his zone.

The Tottenham tactics for Everton vs Spurs should look at attacking the spaces behind Leighton Baines when the full back is forward. Ronald Koeman has experimented with a back three in preseason, maybe to give Baines some help. However, getting in to this space to pull one of the three centre backs out would still be a good tactic.

Stopping the crosses

Ronaldo Koeman had his side at the top of the charts for crosses per game during his time in charge at Southampton. They constantly looked for the dominant Graziano Pelle. With an equally powerful aerial striker in Romelu Lukaku, Koeman already has his target man. We can expect that he will be tasked with getting in to the box for a bombardment of crosses.

The supply line will come from the full backs and one of the wide midfielders. Dusan Tadic was the man at Southampton. Gerard Deulofeu will probably get the job for the Toffees.

Stopping them executing their ball in to the box strategy is not easy. We can play our wide players higher up in order to push their full backs towards their own goal. This is often Mauricio Pochettino’s default strategy. A deeper starting position will see them have more trouble getting forward.

The other choice is to jam their full backs out wide when they get the ball. Giving them little time and space in order to deliver a cross means that accuracy is much harder. This tactic was employed the first time we met Koeman’s Saints, when the match finished Spurs 1-0 Southampton.


Wide cross-stopping ball recovery, Spurs 1-0 Southampton.

Both strategies are equally valid and this will be a key area to watch. Whoever comes out on top here between Everton vs Spurs will be a vital battleground to who emerges with the three points on Saturday.

Quick balls forward

One problem we’ve had when facing Ronald Koeman’s Southampton was dealing with their quick forward balls. Graziano Pelle would cushion them down, flick them on or lay them off for Sadio Mane’s runs.


Fonte looks for Pelle who flicks on for Mane’s run.

It gave us a lot of trouble when we faced Koeman’s Saints side, especially in the 2-2 draw at St. Mary’s.

Just how much Koeman is able to implement this tactic so early in the season will be interesting to watch for in Everton vs Spurs on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku will be a perfect target. Whether he uses Ross Barkley, or even Kevin Mirallas, to work off the striker will be one thing to watch for.

Everton vs Spurs outlook

Goodison Park is never an easy place to go. The fans are loud, close to the pitch and it’s a tight old school stadium. Having a new manager with the players keen to impress him will also push them on.

The wide areas are where this game will be won and lost. The Everton full backs will be key to just what happens. If they can get forward and supply their crosses then we could be in trouble. If we can defend them and attack the vacant zones that they will leave, then the three points will be heading back to North London.

Everton vs Spurs prediction: Everton 1-1 Spurs.

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11 Responses to Everton vs Spurs preview: tactical strengths and weaknesses

  1. john youdell 12th August 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    All well and good but too much about Everton and nothing at all about Spurs.

    We will press and look to move the ball quickly through the midfield with the option of picking out our fast moving full backs for some variety. Can Everton cope with that?

    I do not think so.

    Everton nil Spurs 2

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th August 2016 at 3:44 pm #

      Not sure what you mean John? There’s plenty about Spurs. This preview, as it has always been, is about scouting the opposition and how we go about attacking their weaknesses and nullyfying their strengths.

  2. anotherwisemonkey 12th August 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks for focusing the mind before the big kick off. This is not an easy one and I also think a draw is likely. Still, if Poch has got the players physically and mentally sharp and able to compete hard for 90 minutes, we can take all three points.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th August 2016 at 12:41 am #

      I’m more optimistic given the doubts over several players like Lukaku and Coleman who were reported as going to be OK for the game during the week. We looked very strong the other day vs Inter. Think we may have got Everton at a good time.

  3. Andy B 13th August 2016 at 10:10 am #

    Gerard Deulofeu is an amazing talent and I really wanted Spurs to sign him, before Everton did. He will be tricky to deal with, because of his creativity. I was surprised that Barcelona let him go.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th August 2016 at 10:13 am #

      Good player, felt we should’ve tried to bring him in when we let Lennon go to Everton.

  4. Matt 13th August 2016 at 11:56 am #

    I think this is a match to directly pit Walkers athleticism against Baines. I like Baines delivery and intelligence but we need Walker running him into the ground today. Get it out to him early and attack the space, as you allude to Mark.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th August 2016 at 10:06 pm #

      Good call Matt. Walker v Baines was where our goal came from.

  5. Matt 14th August 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    Thanks Mark, look forward to the review. COYS!

  6. James 14th August 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    Obviously, Rose & Walker didn’t dominated the flanks on the first half and Everton tried to attack with long balls and counter attacks. Also I felt Dier & Wanyama had problems with bringing the ball forward to the opposition box. But great tactical change by Poch, he subbed off Dier, bring Janssen in. Also Alli – Wanyama was our midfield pair on the second half. I’m happy we got more tactical options than last season’s. Good preview. helped me a lot to understand the game. Looking forward to the review. COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th August 2016 at 9:10 pm #

      Will be interesting to see if we use Dier and Wanyama together again for that reason. I wouldn’t write off the partnership as it’s very early and they might strike up a better relationship, but they are similar players and what we saw gave food for thought as to the dynamic of the pairing in there.