In what was a scrappy return to Premier League action, Tottenham Hotspur struggled against an organised Everton side. The Lilywhites managed to create some chances in the first half but their overall game was rather disappointing. In spells, there was some insightful passing and combinations. But in the more advanced stages of the midfield, play often broke down. This was partly due to Carlo Ancelotti‘s tactics and formation. Nevertheless, Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield is a key area that they need to improve on.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Midfield Leads to Dismal Defeat Against Organised Everton
Debutant Matt Doherty
Spurs fielded their new right-back, Matt Doherty, who made a solid debut. In the first half, he played high up the field and even linked up with Harry Kane in their opponent’s box, forcing Jordan Pickford into a good save. In this way, Doherty seems to be fulfilling the same duties as Serge Aurier previously. On the opposite flank, Ben Davies plays a more conservative role as a balance to the more advanced Doherty.
Defensively, he had to tend to the threat of Richarlison. The Brazilian was a handful all game and created many chances.
His debut was curtailed to just 75 minutes with Tanguy Ndombele taking his place. Sissoko slotted in at right-back.
Ndombele Must Continue to Get Minutes
Ndombele immediately made an impact with some incisive passing. But in the scope of the match itself, he was unable to provide any solutions to Spurs’ dispair. Nevertheless, the team immediately looked more dangerous with his midfield play. And yet, he remains a background figure at the club.
If Spurs want to make the most out of the player, he has to get more minutes on the field. However, Mourinho has already shown through his team selections that Ndombele isn’t in his favour.
The second-half performance was particularly jaded from Tottenham. There seemed to be a lack of ideas and indeed service to the forward line. Harry Kane was unable to open his account for goals which was largely down to a rather lacking midfield.
Mourinho’s side started with a combination of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Dele and Harry Winks. But, at half-time, Dele was substituted for Moussa Sissoko. As a result, this left Spurs with a rather dull midfield force. Eventually, with the introduction of Ndombele, there was more forward thrust, but it was too little too late.
Going forward, Tottenham need to ensure that their midfield has some kind of creative player involved. Ideally, this would include Giovani Lo Celso who is currently carrying a hamstring injury. But it would also include Ndombele. With a little more creativity in the middle, it will allow Spurs to create a lot more chances.
However, with the current Mourinho set-up as a low block and counter, perhaps a more creatively-minded midfield is less likely. Possibly the manager felt throttled by the injury to Lo Celso. The Argentinian has been an important feature in his time at the club so far. Whilst he is a more creative midfielder, he is also able to play with more discipline. As a result, Tottenham aim to wait out their opponents, happy to concede possession and pounce on mistakes.
This almost worked in the first-half, with Pickford making multiple saves. But later on in the match, Spurs should have applied more pressure; they were found chasing the match rather than setting its tempo.