Into The Groove
Their were two changes from Wednesday’s cup game, Sanchez came on for Rose and Kane came in for Moura. Personally, with the schedule we’ve got coming up, I’d have rested both Trippier and Sissoko too.
Trippier’s now got a chronic groin issue and had played three games in a week – and KWP desperately needs the minutes too – and regardless of my personal reticence about Sissoko, he’d also played constantly the last few games and had earned a rest IMO, again with the very able Skipp available to deputise and get some more minutes on the clock.
I possibly would have rotated Son (but would be proved very wrong on that one as he was outstanding). But by and large no real grumbles about the selections (especially with hindsight) and once again Poch did rotate some components.
Sanchez coming in at CB pushed Davies out to LB. We went with the 4312 (41212 with the ball ?) with Sissoko (right) and Eriksen (left) pivoting off the central Winks in midfield with Alli tucked in behind Kane and Son.
This stayed pretty much constant throughout, certainly until the last few minutes anyway.
This was a repeat of the Barca front 6, and though it clearly has some defensive compromises, it is aggressively proactive and I quite like it.
The first half was a pretty whacky affair. Two teams that were committed to try and attack and two midfields that initially were both making a better job of doing the attacking than the defending.
We could have been two or three up before they created a chance, but then we could have been two down and in trouble before we got on the score sheet.
Their first goal was endemic of the chaos, both teams were struggling to contain each other, and a malaise on the edge of the box was poorly defended by Winks and Trippier.
A second goal against was chalked off for a very gentle hand in the back of Sanchez.
What happened then was, just as against Barca really, that very proactive footballing midfield started to really assert itself, and aided and abetted by the fluidity, clever movement and interaction of the front three started to rip Everton to pieces.
It wasn’t long before we were level. Son chasing down a forward pass, capitalised on a Pickford/Zouma clusterfuck, but his subsequent finish was still of an exceedingly high standard.
Driven out to the wide right angle of the box, he arrowed a wonderful shot that hit the far side net.
Alli then netted after good work by Sissoko and Son and two became three after a superb free kick by Trippier had bounced back off the post and Kane contorted to blatt the ball into a gaping net.
The second half saw Alli go off, possibly as a result of a nasty challenge by Pickford, and Lamela come on.
Having taken control of this game around the 25thminute mark, we really started to get into the groove second half. A 56% possession game became a 60% one.
This was peak Poch Spurs from the latter half of the 16/17 season. The 4thgoal arrives a couple of minutes into the second half.
Another one of those Trippier balls into that inside channel found Kane, he feeds it in, it gets cleared to Eriksen who dispatches one of those crisp Eriksen specials from the edge of the box the zips into the bottom corner.
There then followed a very brief interlude as Siggurdson managed to glide past most of defence laterally and then somehow bobble an angled shot past Lloris.
This was pretty much their only real moment of note in the second half, as we just regained complete control, added a fifth ten minutes later when after an interchange of passes in midfield, Lamela plays Son in, who once again finishes with aplomb.
There’s been a few of us who have been calling for this kind of footballing midfield to be given a chance.
I think it’s no coincidence that the omittance of Dier has coincided with some of our best performances. There was no conservatism today. The risk aversion dial set to minimum.
Our reaction was never to retreat and shell, sink backwards and drag the game with us and invite pressure, it was to keep control of the ball, starving Everton, pulling them around and continually opening up fissures. We had that 16/17 hunger back, like a rapacious carnivore toying with it’s wounded prey.
We saved the very best until last. A fabulous team goal, that encapsulated and crowned this second half performance, a move that seemed to involve the whole team as we worked the ball around the pitch, eventually it goes back to Alderweireld who pings a great ball out to Davies, he zips a first time past to the clever run of Son in the left channel, he gets his head up, sees Kane bursting through the centre and first time again fizzes the ball into him and Kane opens his foot and using the pace of the pass, deliciously guides it past the floundering keeper into the corner.
It was proactive football at it’s best, a whole team in synchronistic harmony, intuitively moving with an eloquent but brutal efficiency.
I’d really love to see Skipp given a shot in the middle, with Winks and Eriksen as the 8’s. I think it might allow us to continue the footballing midfield experiment but with just a smidgeon more insurance.
But regardless, I’m liking this braver, more proactive approach from Poch. We look so much more fluid, have more tempo about our transition without Dier plodding around.
When a team is this good collectively, this cohesive and coherent, this efficient and as scintillating as we were for most of the last 60 minutes, picking a MOTM becomes impossible.
We criticise what we think he gets wrong, but when he gets it right he deserves the praise, when he’s brave and that bravery yields wonderful dividends he deserve big praise. MOTM for this one is Pochettino.
Lloris – their second goal did look a bit soft, but maybe that’s a tad harsh. Not loads to do but generally OK.
Trippier – Started erratically and I felt should have tried harder to close down the Walcott cross for the first, but as the game wore on he got better and played a part in a couple of the goals and their were no more defensive issues. Also saw shitloads of the ball in midfield. Shaky first 20, really good last 70
Sanchez – Considering he’d been out so long, this was a pretty decent knock. Couple of iffy moments, but some decent stuff too.
Alderweireld – Bit iffy on second goal, but very good game apart from that.
Davies – Saw about half as much of the ball as Trippier, and was a bit soft on the second goal, but was generally pretty good and played his part offensively at times too. Just wish Davies was less reluctant offensively more often, because when he does get forward, his delivery is often more composed than Rose’s.
Sissoko – Like others, the first 20-30 minutes was a bit erratic, wasted a couple of good situations, gave the ball away cheaply a few times, but like others grew into the game and was pretty good for the remainder, playing a vital part in the second goal.
Winks – Again, first 20 he struggled to assert himself, but there was a moment around 20 minutes in where he took the ball and under pressure of two opponents, spun and carried the ball through them, initiating an attack. From then he was very good, made more passes than anyone (63/66 an impressive 95%) and was, once again, quietly at the hub of a really good footballing performance.
Eriksen – A couple of years ago I’d have been reluctant to move him permanently back into this 8 type role (I know he played there for Ajax, but this is a different league with much tougher challenges), but his evolution as a footballer continues to deliver world class performances in this role for us. Helped by Alli taking up some of the “10” slack, Eriksen along with Winks ran this game. The lovely goal a sublime bonus. Great game.
Alli – He’s really maturing into a very unique player. Working harder, fannying about less, always an impudent thorn in the opposition’s side.
Shame he had to go off, hope he’s okay for the coming fixtures. Took his goal well too.
Son – When this boy is at it he’s almost unplayable. He can be so good sometimes it’s utterly baffling that he can be so frustrating for phases. Maybe with age he’ll eradicate some of the bumble that afflicts his performances sometimes. He was really good tonight, two great goals, a great assist and a constant handful that Everton just couldn’t contain.
Kane – Proper Kane well and truly back. Maybe even improved. I’ve noticed a slightly less selfish streak of late about him. Hard work, putting himself about, providing that fulcrum and like old Kane, but also setting up others, missing a couple means absolutely nothing, he just kept on keeping on and scored a couple, the second of which was a beautiful finish that capped a wonderful move. Great game.
Lamela – Worked hard, great ball for Son, a few things didn’t quite come off as he occasionally held onto the ball a little too long, but generally good.