Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Everton preview (h)

After a tough trip to Hull, Sunday sees us back in Premier League action with Spurs vs Everton at the Lane.

The Toffees have become a very different team this season under Roberto Martinez. Our 0-0 draw at Goodison was testament to how they’ve changed to become a possession based side.

So, what should we be looking for and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton this time?

Everton set up and style

Roberto Martinez lines his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with one of the most genuine pivots in the Premier League.

Most teams that operate this formation have one player who is more attacking and the other prefers to hold at the base of the midfield. In Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, Everton have two players that can both do the defensive work, but can also get forward. Both have three assists to their name so far in the Premier League and Barry also has two goals.

McCarthy tends to support the attack when Everton goes down the right with Barry holding. They then flip roles so Barry supports and McCarthy holds when the play goes down the left. This is Everton’s preferred side to get forward through Leighton Baines.

Roberto Martinez uses his full backs as a major attacking point as the wide players in front of them usually drift inside. The two wider players were usually Stephen Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas, but injury to Romelu Lukaku has pushed Mirallas up front and a natural winger in Aiden McGeady has been used. This could well alter the dynamic of the formation going forward once McGeady starts to play with the returning Seamus Coleman.

Up top, Roberto Martinez was using Romelu Lukaku, who was not only a threat to get on the end of crosses, but also to make powerful runs in-behind to turn defenders. With the Belgian out injured he’s opted for Kevin Mirallas in this role. Everton are now playing more through balls to take advantage of his pace and looking to get in the penalty area to play shorter crosses and cutbacks across the ground.

When defending, Martinez likes to use two different waves of pressing. The first is from the striker and the three advanced midfielders who push up in a block of four. Their job is to try and steal the ball or to force longer kicks downfield. From here, the back four and the two players in the pivot can attempt to hoover these up as we can see on StatsZone.


Everton ball recoveries against Arsenal.

With Mirallas and Baines, Everton are extremely dangerous to ether shoot or put quality balls in to the box from set pieces. It doesn’t help that as a team Everton are one of the most fouled sides in the Premier League, so cheap free kicks in our half need to be avoided.

Baines and Coleman

Roberto Martinez uses his two full backs as the major points from where to start Everton’s attacks. They like to move the ball quickly out to these two in possession, often with the ball played straight out from the centre of the park.

Down the right, Seamus Coleman can use his pace and dribbling to get in to the penalty area. From here he can either shoot from the angle or cut the ball back. In the last Premier League match he played away to West Brom, we can see just how aggressive the passes are to him up the line and in-behind the opposition full back.


Seamus Coleman passes received, WBA 1 Everton 1.

On the other side, Leighton Baines is used almost as a quarterback with Everton preferring to go to his side. Again the Toffees look to move the ball out quickly to him from the centre of the park or from diagonal balls up the line.


Leighton Baines passes received, WBA 1 Everton 1.

Baines combines excellently with Stephen Pienaar who drifts inside ahead of him, allowing the full back to get round on the overlap.


Baines gets round on the overlap for a return after passing to Pienaar.

Form here, Baines can either pick out a pass back inside or more preferably, a cross. This was a feature with a big target man in Romelu Lukaku, but less so last weekend with Kevin Mirallas or Stephen Naismith in the centre.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton need to see us force these two back in wide areas. In the game at Goodison, Andre Villas-Boas had us press extremely hard and high up the pitch. This restricted the influence of the full backs, whilst also created a number of turnovers in play.


Tottenham ball recoveries, Everton 0 Spurs 0.

Press for success

We just saw above how AVB did this in the game at Goodison and pressing has been a key to a several teams success against Everton.

Liverpool thumped Everton 4-0 in their last away trip in the Premier League and they did it through forcing the Toffees back down Baines’ left side.


Liverpool tackles against Everton.

In Everton’s previous away trip to West Brom, the Baggies went with a 4-4-2 in Pepe Mel’s first game in charge.

In the opening 45 minutes, West Brom were content to drop off, which invited Everton on as they scored and created several other good chances.


WBA tackles against Everton, 1st half.

After the interval, Mel brought on Victor Anichebe and had his side push up on the Toffees to close them down quickly from the front.

The result was a goal and a 1-1 draw, but the difference in control of the game from the first half to the second swung dramatically.


WBA tackles against Everton, 2nd half.

Tim Sherwood has not been overly aggressive with his use of pressing like AVB was. However, the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton here need to see us at least push Everton back down Leighton Baines’ side of the pitch.

How Everton create chances

With Roberto Martinez emphasising possession, Everton are excellent at keeping play and recycling the ball.

Dribbling is a key factor in many of their chances with Mirallas, Coleman, Baines, Barkley and now McGeady all capable of going past their opponent. From there, they can all shoot, pick out a through pass or cross.

The problem for the Toffees is that Romelu Lukaku was often the target for any balls in to the box and without him they don’t have a target man to aim for. Kevin Mirallas is not strong in the air and prefers to run with or on to the ball.

This has restricted Baines’ aerial delivery from the left and now Everton are looking to play more through ball and cutback football. Any crosses that are delivered are usually much shorter so as to have a higher chance of completion.

This was the case last week against Aston Villa. Everton were looking to take opponents on in the wide areas before cutting the ball back or delivering a shorter cross.


Everton take-ons and chances created against Aston Villa.

Their opening goal came as a result of them overloading the centre of the pitch. The wide players, McGeady and Pienaar, had moved in to the middle to offer passing targets for Gareth Barry. Steven Naismith laid the ball back to Barry and then sped off looking for something played in-behind. Pienaar’s flick around the corner found him in space and the Scot made no mistake as he fired home.


Everton overload the centre and pick a through ball.

The game winner game from a free kick after a Villa foul, something we need to avoid doing around our box with Baines and Mirallas about.

Where Everton concede chances

Everton have had trouble when teams hit them quickly in transition, often through the full back areas with Baines and Coleman caught up field. However, recently, their problems have been through the centre of their defence.

Liverpool swiftly broke forward after a turnover on three of their four goals at Anfield.

After scoring from a corner, Daniel Sturridge broke free to make it 2-0 here after the ball was won back and moved quickly to him.


Sturridge is sprung through the centre.

Liverpool then added two more. Sturridge made it 3-0 after being found behind the Everton centre backs from Kolo Toure’s long ball after a change in possession. Luis Suarez then raced through the middle and made it 4-0 after he took the ball off Phil Jagielka.


Liverpool chances created against Everton.

Liverpool could have added a fifth after Raheem Sterling broke through the middle this time and was brought down by Tim Howard.


Raheem Sterling is sprung through the centre.

Last weekend, Aston Villa’s goal to take the lead at Goodison arrived in a similar manner.

Fabian Delph tackled Ross Barkley in the middle of the park and hit a pass to Christian Benteke who was open through the middle between the centre backs. The Belgian found Leandro Bacuna and the goal was another conceded from a quick transition in play.


Benteke gets free through the middle.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Everton would see us do well to focus on moving the ball quickly forward on any turnovers in the middle of the park.

Spurs vs Everton outlook

This will be a tough game, especially as Everton are good at getting players between the lines of defence and midfield. This is something we’ve struggled with since Tim Sherwood took over and could well be a problem if we go with a four-man midfield.

The team news that Andros Townsend is back in contention is a bonus. When we’ve gone with a five-man midfield, we’ve lacked natural width on the left with Christian Eriksen in the centre.

Everton will be less of an aerial danger without Lukaku, but they still provide a serious threat with their pace on to through balls and dribbling.

The Toffees have struggled away from home of late, but we’re still yet to beat a top seven side at the Lane this season. It’s a big game in the race for fourth, but it may just finish honours even.

Spurs vs Everton prediction: Spurs 1 Everton 1.

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3 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Everton preview (h)

  1. AnythingButPenalties.com 8th February 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Good analysis. Baines definitely looks the danger man, so many of Everton’s attacks come down the left and he gets very far forward.

    I was at the home game against Wigan last year and Martinez had them pressing us so energetically and far up the field every move seemed to end with a defender having to pass the ball back to the keeper. Whereupon he’d kick it and we’d lose possession.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th February 2014 at 10:56 am #

      The amount of pressing will be key here as Martinez doesn’t have a workhorse like Lukaku who puts in a lot of effort to close down from the front. Mirallas is not nearly as effective, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does.

      Good preview, agree that stifling Baines is vital to winning this game.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th February 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Apologies your comment didn’t appear straight away, but the link you put in it meant it went in to spam.