Kyle Walker battles Leighton Baines during Spurs vs Everton in the Premier League.

Spurs vs Everton: opposition strengths and weaknesses

Spurs vs Everton is our next Premier League match at White Hart Lane so we look at our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Everton are the form side in the Premier League. In the midst of a nine-match unbeaten run, the Toffees haven’t tasted defeat on their travels since early December. Under the guidance of Ronald Koeman they have become increasingly strong defensively whilst also an attacking force. Ahead of Spurs vs Everton on Sunday we take a look at what their major strengths are and where the weaknesses lie.

Strength: Full backs

Similar to Mauricio Pochettino, the full backs are the key players in Ronald Koeman’s system. The Everton manager relies on them to not only defend, but also to play extremely aggressively. This sees them get forward and support the attack at every opportunity, but also be the major source of crosses.

Everton rely heavily on crossing. The Toffees are the sixth highest in the Premier League when it comes to putting the ball in the box. With a target like Romelu Lukaku to aim for, why not?

Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are the most frequent deliverers of the ball. Both full backs whip in a fierce delivery, Baines especially so with his cultured left foot.

The preference is with Seamus Coleman though. Everton attacks much more down this side with 62% of their balls in to the box from the right flank. Coleman has twice as many crosses as anyone else from open play in Everton’s last six matches (28). Ross Barkley drifting infield from his wide forward role helps him. Coleman can fly past on the overlap, often in to space, and deliver the ball in.

Spurs will have to be wary of Coleman and Baines. Stopping them will be key to the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton on Sunday. A back three with wingbacks, which has given Everton problems this season, may be the answer.

Weakness: Full backs leaving space

Everton’s full backs are a major strength but also their biggest weakness. They bomb forward and the spaces they leave can be got at quickly in transition.

When Everton concede, it’s often from their full backs being caught forward and failing to recover. Leighton Baines is now 32 and has never been the most fleet of foot across the ground. Often it is his left back zone that can be targeted.

The last team to beat Everton on their travels was Watford back in December. The Hornets exposed Everton’s full backs to win 3-2.

Watford created chances and scored from the FB zones ahead of Spurs vs Everton in the Premier League.

Watford created chances and scored from the FB zones.

Watford’s opening goal was a prime example of how to create against Everton. The Hornets fashioned a turnover in midfield and broke quickly as Stefano Okaka fed Nordin Amrabat. The wide man was rapidly forward in to the space that Leighton Baines had vacated. Before Baines could recover, Amrabat had squared back to Okaka to finish.

Amrabat gets in-behind Baines to square for Okaka ahead of Spurs vs Everton in the Premier League,

Amrabat gets in-behind Baines to square for Okaka,

Everton’s previous away defeat was a 5-0 thumping against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Everton played a back three, but Chelsea still scored four of their five goals from getting in to the spaces left by the full backs.

Chelsea drew up the perfect blueprint to execute their plan. They gave Everton enough space to come out. They then trapped and won the ball back in midfield and broke quickly forward. Chelsea used Eden Hazard and Pedro to race in to the spaces left by the full backs to create chances and score goals.

Chelsea’s opening goal was a prime example. N’Golo Kante won the ball back in midfield and released Diego Costa. Pedro and Hazard held their width outside Costa as he broke forward. The Everton full backs were caught up the pitch and had to race back. They couldn’t make up the ground as Costa fed Hazard to score.

Hazard gets behind the FB to score ahead of Spurs vs Everton in the Premier League.

Hazard gets behind the FB to score.

Chelsea’s second was remarkably similar. They won the ball back and got it to Costa. He then found Pedro running in behind the left back this time. Pedro then squared for Marcus Alonso to add the second.

Pedro gets behind the FB to square for Alonso behind other FB ahead of Spurs vs Everton in the Premier League.

Pedro gets behind the FB to square for Alonso behind other FB.

It continued throughout the match. Chelsea added a third from a set piece. The Blues then added fourth and fifth goals from Hazard and Pedro again getting in behind the Everton full backs to finish.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton need to focus on quickly getting in to these spaces. Mauricio Pochettino should know this as its how we scored our equaliser on opening day in Everton 1-1 Spurs at Goodison. An Erik Lamela header provided the strike as we created chances from the Toffees’ left back zone.

Tottenham chances created, Everton 1-1 Spurs.

Tottenham chances created, Everton 1-1 Spurs.

Strength: central midfield trio

Is it any coincidence that Everton’s form has improved since the signing of Morgan Schneiderlin? The Toffees now have a younger, faster and more dynamic midfield.

Idrissa Gueye is a ball recover machine. Combined with Morgan Schneiderlin and the pair frequently win it back for the Toffees. Everton’s last Premier League match saw the duo win possession back a staggering 18 times against Sunderland.

Ahead of them, the tricky and artful Tom Davies has broken in to the team to provide not only passing, but also third man runs from midfield.

The trio combine extremely well together and have given Everton an increased presence in the middle of the park. They are also responsible for Ross Barkley’s resurgence. Barkley has improved immensely since being moved to a wide forward role on the right. With Seamus Coleman overlapping and the central trio inside, he is able to drift off the flank and create havoc through the middle. This sees him able to play through balls for Lukaku or get his own shots away.

Strength: chance conversion

Everton’s new additions have seen them massively improve their chance conversion. The Toffees are now not just able to cross, but also take advantage of Lukaku’s pace and power to run on to through balls from Davies and Barkley.

It has seen Everton drastically improve their chance conversion. So much so that only Chelsea and Swansea have converted a higher proportion of their chances in their last six Premier League matches. What’s more, only Man Utd, Liverpool and us have created more chances over that span of games. An increased volume, but also dispatching of chances, has seen the Toffees recent good run of form.

Weakness: set pieces

Everton continue to struggle and give up chances from set pieces. This has been a problem for Ronald Koeman teams before and remains.

Since Koeman moved to Goodison Park, only Sunderland, Burnley, Hull and Stoke have given up more chances from set pieces.

However, in Everton’s last six Premier League matches they have given up by far the most. The Toffees have allowed 34 chances from set pieces, way ahead of Stoke in second place with 29 opportunities allowed.

Spurs notched twice from set pieces against Stoke last weekend. So, expect opportunities to come our way from dead ball situations this Sunday.

Key match up: Seamus Coleman vs Ben Davies

Ben Davies will have his hands full. Seamus Coleman is the primary outlet for Everton’s attack when they cross. Davies will not only have to guard Coleman, but will also have to deal with Ross Barkley drifting inside off the line.

Davies will need help. If he is left exposed, as he was at Anfield, then Everton will have a field day.

Spurs vs Everton outlook

Spurs vs Everton matches have been historically tight, with the last three Premier League encounters ending in draws. Mauricio Pochettino does hold the upper hand against Ronal Koeman though. In four Premier League clashes, Pochettino has two wins, a draw and one defeat against the Dutchman.

Spurs would do well to continue with a back three for this one. Everton’s last two away defeats have come against teams that have played the system. Both Watford and Chelsea went with three centre backs, but used the other parts of the formation to unwrap the Toffees. They used their wingbacks to cover Everton’s own full backs. Both teams then had their wide players in their front threes dart in to the spaces Baines and Coleman left. A simple yet destructive recipe we’d do well to follow.

Spurs vs Everton prediction: Spurs 1-0 Everton.

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6 Responses to Spurs vs Everton: opposition strengths and weaknesses

  1. Daudi 3rd March 2017 at 8:13 pm #

    Plus they will definitely employ a press, and look to stop us playing from the back… need to be on our best again for this one. Our home form will also be key to nick a win, as your prediction suggests, but we do have goals in the locker last few games so might be abit more than one.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th March 2017 at 1:54 am #

      I’ll be very interested to see just how much Everton press and from which points in the pitch. I think a back three is key to navigating it if they do, but also to give Everton trouble at their end.

  2. Toby4eva 4th March 2017 at 10:33 am #

    Like the read again Mark – and agree Coleman is a genuine threat. I thought Davies went well last week after a few iffy performances, but this is another music in a different kitchen (aplogies for the Mancunian reference in preparation for Liverpudlian opposition!).

    How can we mix it up?

    Here is a random thought.

    What do you think of Davies on the left side of the back three – and Verts playing the Broadway role?

    Jan can get up the pitch and close down Coleman early, leaving Davies as a purely last stage defender, with Victor getting across to cover Barkley cutting in – with Dembele dropping back when they have the ball.

    Jan has played wide for Belgium of course, albeit usually not as far up the pitch as I’m thinking here – and Taff has played in a back three for Wales.

    So it’s not altogether science fiction.

    I wonder if they have tinkered with this after the Scouse mauling?

    Whatever they do, they must close Coleman down and dry up service to Lukaku.

    Like the observations about the potential for Christian and Dele to exploit the space left by Baines in particular. Walker and Dier should be able to do a job on him if they get right at him early.

    Three points here will be massive – particularly if Liverpool and Arsenal draw.

    We will be nailed on for a top three finish I’d opine.

    We are actually averaging 2.5 points per game against the bottom 13, so 56 points would be a massive platform in front of the next eight games.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th March 2017 at 3:08 pm #

      Some interesting comments and ideas. I like Davies on the edge of a back three but Jan never looks good as a left back or wing back to me. He really struggles against pace and quick feet. He should really only be playing as a wing back or full back as a last resort.

      It is a massive game for us, as a win really gets us in to this good run of fixtures in a highly competitive position. I still fancy Chelsea to drop some points somewhere or for Diego Costa to do a hamstring. He usually misses some parts of the season with leg injuries and I’ve been surprised how durable he’s been this campaign. It surely can’t last!

  3. Toby4eva 5th March 2017 at 10:54 am #

    Fair enough re Verts – but with Toby under a fitness cloud some sort of defensive reshuffle looks possible.

    This game takes on more import after the Gooners got beaten up and Man Utd struggled for a point.

    Liverpool remain a complete enigma.
    I can’t see us catching Chelsea, but agree we can’t give up all hope yet.

    But they are just too strong defensively to suspect they will suddenly falter.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th March 2017 at 12:31 pm #

      Poch has been very non-committal around injuries for years. The past has taught us that we can never really trust what he says, so we’ll have to see on the state of Toby and Jan.

      The game is really important given how Arsenal and Man Utd dropped points. It’s a real chance to open up a gap between them and us.