Tottenham Hotspur hosted Everton in the opening fixture for both sides of the 2020-21 Premier League, but while both teams were hoping for a positive start to the season, it was the hosts that came away with the three points on the road. Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home from a set piece in the second half and the Toffees held on to take a 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
In our match preview ahead of this game we predicted that, despite a crowded schedule over the next few weeks, Jose Mourinho would put out his strongest available lineup for the Premier League opening match. Based on evidence he did just that (though we can quibble about it). Spurs gave Premier League club debuts to Pierre Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty, while Harry Winks returned from a preseason absence to start in midfield. Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier anchored the back line, while Spurs started with a front line of Son Heung-Min, Dele, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane. Tanguy Ndombele, whose effort in training Mourinho praised this week, started on the bench.
4’ — Son Heung-Min having his way with Seamus Coleman, has already dusted him twice.
17’ — Big missed chance for Everton. Ben Davis plays a hospital ball back which Richarlison picks off. He races past Toby and rounds Lloris but somehow manages to put the ball wide of the post despite an open net in front of him. Spurs dodged a HUGE bullet.
24’ — Chance! Sonny puts a lovely ball into the box and Kane gets a boot on it but it goes inches wide.
32’ — Another chance for Spurs — Lucas plays in Son on a counter attack, and Sonny lobs the ball to Dele in the box. Dele’s volley is parried away by Pickford. Almost lovely.
42’ — Crud, another one! Doherty plays a give and go move with Kane, who chips a ball into the box back to him in the box, but Pickford again makes a good save from close range to keep Spurs out. Lovely stuff from Doherty.
HALFTIME! Spurs has had more and better opportunities than Everton, but the score is scoreless at the break.
One halftime sub for Spurs — Moussa Sissoko comes on for Dele. Not sure why — injury? Rotation?
52’ — Everton coming out looking much brighter than Spurs, James in the middle of everything they’re doing. First James scuffs a shot in the box, then lofts a ball to the back post that Richarlison thankfully doesn’t hit clean.
55’ — Goal to Everton. Digne puts in a fantastic delivery and Calvert-Lewin heads it into the top corner. 1-0 to Everton.
58’ — Jose’s seen enough. Sub for Spurs, as Steven Bergwijn comes on for Harry Winks.
68’ — Gylfi Sigurdsson is on for Everton, replacing Andre Gomes.
69’ — Lucas gets a header on target, but there’s not much power behind it and Pickford saves easily.
75’ — Spurs’ final change! Tanguy Ndombele comes on for Matt Doherty. Tanguy slots to midfield, Sissoko to RWB.
84’ — Scary moment as Hojbjerg puts in an orange-card worthy tackle on Richarlison and both players go down hurt. It was a bad tackle but PEH escapes with a yellow.
88’ — Sub for Everton as Calvert-Lewin is replaced by Moise Kean.
92’ — Final sub for Everton, as Tom Davies comes on for James.
FULL TIME: a miserable day for Spurs as they fall at home to Everton. Final score: 0-1.
- Mourinho-ball was on full display in this match, with Spurs sitting in a medium low block and defending with Alderweireld, Dier and Davies and Doherty protecting in front. Everton didn’t do a lot to break that down, but the flip side is that Spurs let them have tons of the ball and only pushed forward on the counter.
- Spurs were lucky not to be down at halftime after Richarlison’s inexplicable (and hilarious) miss. That said, Pickford stood on his head to make some key stops, especially on Doherty.
- James Rodriguez is a legitimately world class creative #10 so it boggles my mind that Spurs didn’t do a better job of actually containing him or even putting a body on him at times. He had so much space to work with, and yes I’m side-eying Harry Winks in this comment.
- Everton’s goal was nicely taken. Some were critical of Toby’s failure to jump to contest, but Calvert-Lewin was pretty much on his back. Not much Toby could do, in my opinion.
- You can see why Hojbjerg was such a big target for Mourinho this summer — he’s just a solid all-around midfielder — not spectacular, just solid. That said, he was very lucky not to be sent off for that challenge on Richarlison.
- Likewise, Doherty was quite good a right back but visibly tired midway through the second half.
- Mou taking off Dele (who wasn’t especially great) for Sissoko was a huge mistake and Spurs looked actively bad in the second half. Bringing on Bergwijn was Mourinho admitting as such.
- Moussa Sissoko was extremely not great today in three different positions. Ben Davies was downright shocking. Harry Winks was lackadaisical positionally, as always.
- Tottenham are as good as Harry Kane in many ways. When he’s getting good looks and taking shots, Spurs are more likely to win. He didn’t do that today, even though he had a couple of good passes to find teammates.
- Tanguy Ndombele’s first pass was a 30-yarder to Harry Kane. His second was even more ambitious. Say what you want about him but he just does stuff that nobody else on this team can do. He passed progressively, he dribbled, he pressed. Had a couple of bad passes, but he was the only one on the team really trying to do stuff. Imagine if we played him more often.
- Early days, but Tottenham just weren’t very good today. Up next: a trip to Bulgaria on Tuesday in a Europa League qualifying match! What could go wrong?