Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min celebrate a goal during Tottenham 4-0 Everton in the Premier League.

Tottenham 4-0 Everton: attacking fallible full backs

Continuously attacking the Toffees’ full backs saw a one-sided Premier League encounter finish Tottenham 4-0 Everton at Wembley Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino was clinical and calculated in his game plan. Cuco Martina and Jonjoe Kenny have done well as stand-in full backs, but they were targeted relentlessly. Four goals were the result, three from low crosses, as it ended Tottenham 4-0 Everton at Wembley Stadium.

Everton’s issues

Everton’s issues didn’t start with their fullbacks, but they certainly ended with them. The Toffees’ problems in fact started much further up the pitch and were threefold.

Firstly, Wayne Rooney was playing far too high. Rooney was tasked with getting forward to support new striker Cenk Tosun. England’s record goalscorer did well in this phase, but didn’t have the legs to complete the second part of his role. This job was to get back and help Idrissa Gueye and James McCarthy in midfield. As a result, Gueye and McCarthy were often left exposed and huge spaces opened up. These are the areas we know we love to flood with attacking players and we therefore enjoyed plenty of time on the ball.

A knock-on effect from all this space appearing was Phil Jagielka being too keen to move out of the back line. Jagielka seemed to take it upon himself to mark Harry Kane. His impetuosity often got the better of him and this caused havoc amongst his remaining colleagues in the back four.

These two factors coincided with the final nail in the coffin. Everton’s wide players were not tracking. Gylfi Sigurdsson was trying to move in to the centre to influence proceedings and often got caught in the middle of the pitch. Yannick Bolasie was too high up seeking to use his superior speed against the slower Ben Davies. Bolasie rarely saw the ball, but was in poor positions to recover when possession was turned over.

The result of all of this carnage was Everton’s stand-in full backs being left exposed. Martina and Kenny were often one-against-one or out of position due to their own reckless acts or those of their teammates around them. Four goals were the result as it ended a comfortable Tottenham 4-0 Everton.

Attacking the Everton left back

Everton’s formational issues were one factor in their heavy defeat. The other was the excellent Tottenham ball movement. Passes were swift and precise. The switch in play to move the ball across the pitch in one or two passes became a feature.

Every Spurs player was looking for it. Christian Eriksen supplied it to break the deadlock.

Everton’s trio of issues were highly apparent. Wayne Rooney was too high creating spaces around McCarthy and Gueye. Harry Kane filling these spaces drew Jagielka out. Gylfi Sigurdsson was too narrow trying to pinch in.

As a result, full back Cuco Martina had to track Son’s run in to the space left by Jagielka’s indiscipline. The knock-on effect was therefore an ocean of space for Serge Aurier to sneak in to.

Aurier in space as a knock on effect of poor shape during Tottenham 4-0 Everton in the Premier League.

Aurier in space as a knock on effect of poor shape.

Martina was then caught in two minds and it made for an easy goal. Aurier had time to take a touch and size up a shot. However, it turned in to a perfect pass across the face for Son Heung-Min to tap in. Tottenham 1-0 Everton and Son Heung-Min’s fifth goal in five consecutive home matches to equal Jermain Defoe’s record.

Pickford and set pieces

Tottenham were playing the Everton setup perfectly, but this didn’t stop the Toffees’ causing some sticky moments. These came from the long kicks of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and at set pieces.

Pickford’s kicking was an interesting sideshow in the match due to its length, power and trajectory. Everton didn’t score from it, but it could’ve been used to cause us more problems.

Pickford frequently sent the ball in-behind our high defensive line with one booming swing of his left foot. Our centre backs, often Davinson Sanchez, were unexpectedly turned and had to scamper back harassed by the strong play of Cenk Tosun. Everton’s new recruit was able to hold a share of these long kicks up, but also put Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen under great pressure.

The best chance fashioned from Pickford’s long clearances saw Tosun flick on and Rooney scuff a first time shot just wide of the post.

Everton’s other avenue of success was at set pieces. The delivery of Gylfi Sigurdsson was accurate and Tosun was causing problems in the air. Wayne Rooney had the ball in the net following back-to-back corners, however he was offside in doing so.

Attacking the Everton right back

Tottenham took the lead by attacking left back Cuco Martina. A second goal and a spree of other chances would follow by going at right back Jonjoe Kenny.

A minute after the interval and Everton’s issues compounded once more. Wayne Rooney was again too high leaving too much space for McCarthy and Gueye to cover. Sigurdsson was caught inside trying to drift in. Bolasie trying to get himself aligned 1v1 on Ben Davies.

Poor shape knock-on effect creates space for Spurs during Tottenham 4-0 Everton in the Premier League.

Poor shape knock-on effect creates space for Spurs.

Davinson Sanchez’s run with the ball to move it out from the back took a risk. However, as Everton were caught with players out of position, it quickly created a good position and a defensive domino effect ensued. The swift passing between himself, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen speedily escalated Everton’s problems.

Son was in space on the flank. Right back Jonjoe Kenny’s impetuous challenge suddenly saw him out of the game as Son’s pirouette sprung him in to the clear. He raced in on goal and his shot across the face also turned in to the perfect cross. Harry Kane arriving, with a question of offside, to turn home and make it Tottenham 2-0 Everton.

Two up and Tottenham continued to attack the space around Jonjoe Kenny. Chances were created through the inside left channel between Kenny and the equally inexperienced Mason Holgate.

Dele Alli could only find the side netting when presented with a glorious chance due to his run down this channel. Son and then Dele then saw their efforts thwarted by two quick reaction saves by Jordan Pickford.

Back to attacking the left back

Chances, and goals, were also forthcoming by continuing to attack left back Cuco Martina.

Son Heung-Min hit the post as yet another long switch found him sneaking beyond the left back. Harry Kane’s lofted pass was pinpoint; Son’s finish was off by just a fraction.

No need to worry though as a third was just a minute away. Again it was from a low cross. Once more Spurs were easily able to create a mismatch on the flank. This time it was 3v2 and although Sigurdsson and Martina were back, they were unable to cover Dier, Son and Aurier due to the lack of help from Gueye and McCarthy.

3v2 creted out wide to cross for Harry Kane to score a goal during Tottenham 4-0 Everton in the Premier League.

3v2 creted out wide to cross for Harry Kane to score.

Harry Kane ran the channel between opposite full back Jonjoe Kenny and centre back Mason Holgate. Dier’s scuffed cross was met with an equally scruffy finish. It didn’t matter as the ball squibbed in to the net and Spurs were 3-0 up.

Christian Eriksen then made it Tottenham 4-0 Everton as the Toffees were carved open down our right once again.

Morgan Schneiderlin was introduced for James McCarthy. He and Idrissa Gueye were once more left with too much ground to cover by Wayne Rooney being caught too far forward and Gylfi Sigurdsson not tracking Serge Aurier.

As a result, Phil Jagielka was once more drawn out to mark Harry Kane. Serge Aurier’s pass to Kane’s feet immediately pierced two levels of Everton’s defence and instantly Spurs were on their back line.

Aurier pass splits defence as Toffees out of position during Tottenham 4-0 Everton in the Premier League.

Aurier pass splits defence as Toffees out of position.

The domino effect then ensued as Everton had to rotate defender after defender towards the Spurs man with the ball, which constantly changed due to the quick passing.

Kane found Aurier to attack the space around left back Cuco Martina. Drawing the full back out, Aurier intelligently played Son in to the space created. One-touch play then saw the South Korean find Dele Alli whose neat first-time flick ended up with Christian Eriksen’s precise finish. A brilliant team goal and a fine illustration of what this Tottenham team is about.

The game was over and a comfortable score of Tottenham 4-0 Everton saw all three valuable points hoovered up in our quest for a top four finish.

Tottenham 4-0 Everton overall

A spot on game plan by Mauricio Pochettino manifested itself with all four goals being scored by heavily attacking the Everton full back zones. The Toffees left their full backs exposed by poor organisation in front of them from experienced heads that should know better.

Low crosses were responsible for three of the strikes. Pleasing to see after lacking crossing based approaches against teams that defend deep and narrow when coming to Wembley. However, our delivery still needs to be worked upon. Son and Aurier’s crosses were shots that turned out to be excellent passes. What’s more, all too often Aurier and Davies crossing attempts lacked accuracy. Aurier’s precision really nosedives when delivering on the run.

Final score: Tottenham 4-0 Everton.
MOTM: Son Heung-Min.

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20 Responses to Tottenham 4-0 Everton: attacking fallible full backs

  1. Andy B 14th January 2018 at 6:00 pm #

    Another great article.

    The only disappointing thing for me about the match was the lousy crossing of Aurier. Walker was a poor crosser of the ball, but his delivery was still far better than Aurier’s.

    It is a shame that Trippier doesn’t have much pace, because if that was combined with his excellent crosses, then we would be sorted.

    Davies didn’t get into the attacking third, as much as usual.

    Before Rose initially came back from injury, Davies was playing brilliantly and was possibly our most creative player, in terms of chances created. Since Rose came back, he has been nowhere near that level. I wonder if Davies is best when he gets regular games (2-3 per week) rather than one per week. Or whether his motivation or confidence was affected by Rose’s return.

    With no clear sign on Rose’s injury, Davies may get more game time again.

    Rose is not a great crosser of the ball either.

    This is where Pochettino’s system, that relies on attacking fullbacks, is flawed. For it to be fully effective, both fullbacks need to be capable of delivering an accurate cross.

    That is the main weakness in the team. Unless we get new players in both fullback positions, who have pace and can put in a deadly delivery, or use traditional wingers instead, then it will never be as effective as it could be.

    Llorente is the player that misses out the most, with his undoubted heading ability.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th January 2018 at 7:03 pm #

      If could combine Trippier’s crossing with Aurier’s speed then would have the perfect attacking full back.

      It’s tough to find fast full backs that can cross and that’s why they come with a hefty price tag as they are football’s key players right now as all the top teams want them.

      You’re right to point out Davies as he has been in a shell last few weeks, almost like the player he was a few years ago. Not sure if it’s Rose or what, but one game a week should be enough for him. Yesterday he seemed concerned with not letting Bolasie get a good starting position on him. Bolasie was kept quiet to be fair, but at the expense of any attacking output.

      As for Poch’s system I think he needs to look at getting another left back in as Rose is missing so many games. I think in Poch’s defence he wants to play a back three, but is struggling without Alderweireld and Wanyama missing big chunks of the season. That means he can play wingbacks where Trippier is more effective and Davies can make those late runs in to the box. We’ve not seen it recently and I think we need to get back to it as soon as we can.

      • Jockneyiddo 15th January 2018 at 1:54 am #

        Spot on Mark..well articulated..once again!
        I just want to sincerely thank you for all your efforts throughout the season, you make the whole Spurs experience so much better for us overseas boys..that don’t get an easy opportunity to watch many of the matches live.
        Apologies for being a silent reader that never contributes to your fantastic pre and post match analysis..i imagine there’s quite a few of us out there in the same boat.
        I must also say that i dearly missed your analysis for the period (pre Xmas?!) that you didn’t/couldn’t do it.
        Once again..very appreciated Mark mate, keep up the good work..coz we all love your humble, balanced, measured, and insightful articles/analysis!
        COYS..top 4 please boys!!! ₩

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 15th January 2018 at 11:34 am #

          Thank you for the kind words Jockneyiddo. Always nice to hear that the posts go down well. My aim is to enhance the match watching experience, so it’s great to hear that it is doing that. I enjoy the chats and there are some great questions and discussions on here, which is what makes doing the website so worthwhile. This is an open forum, so anyone that has something to say feel free to air your opinions as it usually sparks some good debate. Thanks again. COYS!

  2. MrE 14th January 2018 at 7:31 pm #

    Great result even though we didn’t need to play that well tbh! I do worry about our full backs as they really are not being that effective at the moment and I believe that’s one reason we have struggled to open teams up at home. We have some big games coming up so hopefully Toby will be back and we can go back to 3 at the back as you say.
    Also with the transfer window open, can you see us going for any cover, at rb for instance, or trying an audacious bid to take us forward as a club – maybe Hazard has had his fill of cheatski and faces a big Belgium love in at Spurs?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th January 2018 at 10:33 pm #

      Good questions. I can’t see us going in for cover at right back. Left back maybe, but I seriously doubt it given our history in the January transfer window and Poch’s comments suggest very little will be done.

      One thing for sure is that we have enough players in the Belgian national team that Hazard will know about how great it is to be at Spurs. However, I can’t see us having the transfer fee or wages to compete. Also, I’m not sure if a player like Hazard upsets our balance. He is a very good player but demands a lot of the ball, which might upset our team ethos. We’ve also not signed a “superstar” player, as Poch prefers to nurture and bring through talent. A marquee signing might upset the dressing room or create friction in the squad.

  3. Chas 15th January 2018 at 1:00 am #

    Agree with everyone re Aurier’s poor crossing but would add that I had a couple of heart-stoppers with Hugo’s couple of brainfades. He really is at Championship level with his distribution and it is so obvious he is only ever going to use his left foot. A worry!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 15th January 2018 at 11:21 am #

      Hugo’s distribution is becoming a target for teams now and the better sides do make a point to try and harrass and hurry him to force mistakes. It is a valid concern and something Poch has to consider. Hugo must practice it. I can’t believe that any keeper doesn’t spend time on distribution every training session as it is now such a vital part of the game. Maybe he just will never be that good at it. At 31 we do need to think about succession planning. I’ve been a big admirer of Freddie Woodman for a while and would like to see us make a move for him so that we can slowly bring him through over the next 2-3 seasons.

      • YouShubes 16th January 2018 at 9:32 am #

        I would love to get Freddie Woodman into the team I do think that Vorm as good as he is as backup will probably getting moved on but I can imagine for lots of players that have been with the club for a while they will want to play at the new White Hart Lane esp the older ones.

        Dr JAB read my mind about where do we play Sonny when Toby comes back. 3331 is quite a radical formation for the premier league…Eriksen does make us tick but not sure he will defend enough as the Poch system requires from a CM

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th January 2018 at 1:48 pm #

          At 34, I think Vorm will want to play some consistent first team football before he retires and so could well be on his way in the summer. I’m amazed he has stuck around so long to be backup considering he was well respected at Swansea.

          3-3-3-1 is a radical formation (or maybe a Bielsa-esque 3-3-1-3) as it relies on one defensive midfielder with wingbacks, but might serve us well. From currently fit first teamers, I’d go:
          Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen
          Trippier, Wanyama, Davies
          Eriksen, Dele, Son

  4. Dr JAB 15th January 2018 at 6:05 am #

    Hi Mark.
    Good to see your excellent analyses back again. Regarding the dabate about playing 3 at the back and using the fullbacks as wingbacks, I was wondering how this accomodates Son who is a vital cog in our machine at the moment. When playing 3 at the back the formation is generally 3-4-2-1. Without Toby at the moment Dier could play in the back 3 now that Wanyama is back giving a line-up of:-

    Dier, Sanchez, Jan
    Davies, Dembele, Wanyama, Aurier/Trippier
    Alli, Erikson

    Son has been pivotal to our effeorts but this has been associated with the 4-2-3-1 formation where the 3 are Son, Alli, Erikson supporting Kane and providing supporting goalscorers. Poch has tried Son as a wingback on occasions but to the best of my memory this has not succeded.Besides his goal scoring, Son is essential as he is one of the few with pace in an otherwise pedestrian team. Having watched ‘Pool/City last night the importance of speed was demonstrated.

    Your thoughts?
    PS I am looking forward to being present at the Spurs/Huddersfield and Juve games instead of watching with the crowd here in Johannesburg!!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 15th January 2018 at 11:55 am #

      Hi Dr JAB, great news that you’ll be here to enjoy the Huddersfield and Juve games. Hopefully we’ll put on two great perfromances. The Juve match certainly will be a special atmosphere.

      Son is the big x-factor in all of this and I do wonder if Poch is perservering with 4-2-3-1 to accomodate his good form. Son is certainly better as a wide forward. The back 3 does have options for Son though. Poch can play him up top with Harry in a 3-5-2, as we saw with devastating effect against Liverpool. Poch can also play him just off the front with Eriksen in a 3-4-2-1 or drop Eriksen deeper alongside a Wanyama or Dier in order to accomodate Dele, Son and Kane. At Southampton Poch did wheel out a Bielsa-esque 3-3-3-1 at one point, which could see Son with Dele and Eriksen behind Kane, so there are options.

      The 4-2-3-1 remains in play but the back three offers us a different look. Remember at the start of the season there was a period, before Alderweireld’s injury, that when the Spurs teamsheet was handed we were still guessing what the formation and setup was going to be? We need that element of surprise back. We have gone back to being a predictable 4-2-3-1 and the choice of different formations and personnel within them gives us another dimension that is hard to guard.

  5. Matt 15th January 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    Excellent analysis; I was at the game and I hadn’t quite twigged that Rooney playing high up had unbalanced Everton so much. I can see a back 3 again, but we have to find room for Son, he scores, he’s fast and commits players. I’d love to see us sign one more AM, someone fast who can play the channels like Son, definitely NOT an inverted winger.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th January 2018 at 1:39 pm #

      Yes i really think we need a player like this, although i don’t think Levy goes shopping for him until the summer!

  6. Reidar Pedersen 15th January 2018 at 8:51 pm #

    Hi Mark. I believe our exellent movement off the ball was A key factor in this – good angles to play one-touch-stuff into gave us oppurtunity to move the ball quickly enough to create overloads and crossing positions. Greit view and pics on Evertons poor shape

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th January 2018 at 1:41 pm #

      Hi Reidar, yes our movement was really good in this game and our ball movement did compliment it, which was nice to see. I also thought we pressed really well in order to create turnovers or force long balls out that Sanchez and Vertonghen hoovered up. It definitely helped us control possession in order to build attacks.

  7. brian 16th January 2018 at 3:16 am #

    Hi Mark
    Once again your anlsis and thoughtful insight seems to be spot on.That said I don;t know if it was Tottenham playing brillianly,or that Everton were so poor,as to cover up and hide our own problems.Still it was good to basically dominant the game.Which we have done on several occaisions,especially at home,but have failed to brake down our opponents,regard actions,West ham be one of those.recently.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th January 2018 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi Brian. I thought we played well ovrall as Everton were quite up for it until the second goal went in. The first half we didn’t really get out of second gear, but Sonny’s goal so soon after the interval really broke Everton and lifted us to go on and run up the score.

  8. Toby4eva 19th January 2018 at 10:11 am #

    Hi Mark

    Happy New Year to you and all your loyal readers and contributors.

    Apologies for lack of input lately – I missed your p/reviews prior to Christmas and lost the habit of checking in.

    Glad you are back and firing on all cylinders.

    The fourth goal was a Tottenham classic.

    Every player was involved and no Everton player got a touch on the ball!

    And finally Chris supplied a clinical finish.


    Agree we controlled the game but I thought some of our first touch control was dubious, which shouldn’t be happening at this stage of the season. With Liverpool and City putting on a clinic it was a stark reminder of what we are trying to chase down.

    But that said, Sonny is a joy to watch at the moment – he has become the heart and soul of the team.

    Everyone loves him – how could you not!

    February looms large and will define our season.

    Hopefully the “other” Toby will be back soon to insert more steel and leadership.

    Taking at least five points out of successive Utd/Scouse/Woolwich games is imperative if we are to hang on to the top five. Eight of our last 10 games are eminently winnable.

    But getting past Juve is also a major target.

    Four games to really test the Gaffer and the entire squad.

    Strap in folks!


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th January 2018 at 4:13 pm #

      Happy New Year! The fourth goal was a joy to watch. So pleasing on the eye and expertly executed.

      I agree, this is a big run of games coming up following Southampton. For me, our results in the Premier League games against Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal will make or break our season. We will either be looking at top four or needing favours from elsewhere. We cannot give any ground to these teams if we are going to make top four. Win them and it lands a real blow against our closest rivals. Lose and we are in trouble of missing a champions league place. What’s more, victory over Arsenal could knock them for six given the situation they are in and position the table.

      It’s going to be highly exciting to watch this run unfold!