Opinion: No Conte, no difference: Tottenham suffer a hammer blow at Everton

In what’s beginning to feel like the same old story, it was another tough weekend for Tottenham, being held to a disappointing draw at Goodison Park.

Cristian Stellini
(Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Despite finally being rid of Antonio Conte, interim boss Cristian Stellini made just three changes to the Xi that started at Southampton three weeks ago, following the same blueprint as his predecessor had done for the last 18 months.

Ivan Perisic replaced the injured Ben Davies at left wingback, Hugo Lloris returned in goal for Fraser Forster, and Dejan Kulusevski started instead of Richlarison as the Brazilian regains fitness in Spurs’ familiar 3-4-2-1.

The game started surprisingly open, as both sides had efforts at goal with Kane missing a hard, but by his standards decent chance, to put Spurs a goal up as his header flashed just wide of the post.

Come halftime Everton were slightly on top, applying pressure on Spurs and looking the more likely to break the deadlock, however bizarrely, both sides ended the first half with exactly 0.44xG (Understat).

The second half started slowly, and it took until the hour mark for the first real talking point of the game.

Following Harry Kane’s challenge, Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure proceeded to push Kane in the face, receiving a straight red card for his troubles and reducing the Toffees to 10 men.

Post-match, Kane was criticised for his reaction, but in truth, anyone claiming any footballer who is clearly pushed in the face wouldn’t go down is simply kidding themselves; agree or disagree, it’s unfortunately the done thing.

Those of an Everton persuasion can have little objections, as we’ve seen time and again contact of any nature in the face so often results in instant dismissal, so Doucoure cannot have been surprised.

But despite having a man advantage, albeit Spurs enjoyed more of the ball, we still struggled to create chances until Cristian Romero’s clever interception inside the Everton box won Spurs a penalty.

Whilst Jordan Pickford tried his trademark mind games, unsurprisingly, Kane fired Tottenham into a lead; a goal to the good, a man up, this should have been game over.

Everton did in fairness react well to conceding, still attacking the Spurs goal despite their numerical disadvantage, but with just five minutes to go Tottenham looked to be edging towards our first away win in the league since beating Fulham back in January (Transfermarkt). 

However, as Spurs fans will be aware, and in what feels like a harrowingly similar outcome as Southampton three weeks ago – Conte’s last game in charge, a last-gasp goal for the hosts saw us drop two points again, and make no mistake, this was two points dropped.

Having entered and left the field in just five minutes, Lucas Moura’s straight red card also saw Spurs reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute, giving Everton hope that there may yet be something for them in what little time remained.

With their tails up, Everton proceeded to attack Spurs, who clearly rattled by Moura’s dismissal looked disorganised and disorientated, and the Toffee’s capitalised just a minute later.

Michael Keane, who had given away the earlier penalty, saw his wonder-strike leave Lloris rooted to the spot, as his effort cannoned into the goal and rescued a point for Everton.

For the second time in as many games, Tottenham has thrown away what would now have been a massive four points, as had we held on against Southampton and Everton, we’d be four points clear of both Newcastle and Manchester United.

And a win at Goodison Park would certainly have made a statement, with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, and Brentford all dropping points to Everton this season, so too through the game away with such little time to go is beyond disappointing.

Moreover, as we look to attract a new manager, our squad looks more and more in need of an overhaul, with the likes of Dier and Kulusevski – the latter of whom doesn’t actually need replacing, both failing to impress, and Davidson Sanchez playing incredibly poor in his 20-minute cameo.

Being brought on for Lenglet, the Columbian looked continuously shaky on the ball, and although he only lost possession once, his sloppy passing often invited pressure from the hosts (SofaScore).

If it wasn’t already, regardless of the manager, signing at least one new centre-back must be the priority for Tottenham this summer, as we need quality depth in the position if we are ever to mount a serious challenge for silverware.

Monday certainly feels like a missed opportunity for Spurs, as we now enter a challenging stretch of games including facing Brighton, Newcastle, Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Brentford all within our next eight games; a run that will define our season.

However, unfortunately, what’s done is done, and we must be ready to go again as we host Brighton next Saturday, but if Stellini and co harbour real aspirations of Champions League football next season, it’s imperative our form turns around with a win over the Seagulls next weekend.

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