Spurs' dominant win at Everton heaps pressure on Premier League leaders
LIVERPOOL, England -- Three quick thoughts from Tottenham's 6-2 Premier League win over Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park.
1. Spurs keep the pressure on the leaders
If the title chase is only a two-horse race, nobody has told Tottenham. While Mauricio Pochettino has been reluctant to talk up his side's chances, pointing to the financial power of Spurs' rivals and the fact that Manchester City in particular are serial trophy winners, he is going to find it increasingly difficult to keep his side under the radar after this latest, emphatic triumph.
The spotlight that has become focused on the Argentinian in the past week, following Jose Mourinho's departure at Manchester United, will remain fixed firmly upon him. While United's caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oversaw a highly impressive 5-1 victory at Cardiff on Saturday, Pochettino's Spurs immediately responded in kind, also winning by four goals away from home -- and against tougher opponents.
The visiting fans know what the headlines will be and pointedly sang "Mauricio Pochettino, he's Tottenham" at Goodison Park while voicing their displeasure at "Sky TV," presumably because of their insistence on asking Pochettino about the Man United job on Thursday.
This was Spurs' 11th victory from their past 13 matches in all competitions, and it takes them within two points of Pep Guardiola's reigning champions.
Particularly impressive is the fact that 11 of Tottenham's 18 Premier League fixtures have come away from home -- more than any other side and three more than Man City. That has been a difficulty caused partly by the delays to Spurs' new stadium, yet Pochettino and his players have embraced the challenge and won nine of those top-flight away days, banking 27 points on the road.
They will now reap the rewards in the second half of the season. Indeed, their next two matches come at home against Bournemouth and Wolves, giving them opportunities to put further pressure on Liverpool and City ahead of the showdown between the top two teams Jan. 3.
Spurs initially fell behind at Goodison Park as Theo Walcott opened the scoring, but Tottenham responded emphatically with three first-half strikes.
Son Heung-Min capitalised on a horrible mix-up between Jordan Pickford and Kurt Zouma, who collided as they attempted to defend Harry Kane's routine ball, with the South Korean finishing clinically from a tricky angle on the right flank. Dele Alli then pounced when Pickford saved a low Son shot, and Kane tapped into an empty net when Kieran Trippier's free kick hit the post.
Christian Eriksen made it 4-1 moments after the interval with a crisp 20-yard strike. And, although Everton pulled a goal back through ex-Spurs midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, Son restored Spurs' four-goal lead before crossing for Kane, who completed the rout.
2. Pochettino's diamond is gleaming
Spurs' manager has generally favoured a 4-2-3-1 system, but he switched to a 4-4-2 midfield diamond at Everton on Sunday. He has done so a few times this season, notably in the victories over Manchester United and Chelsea, and here it provided the framework for a devastating attacking performance.
Son profited again in his role as a strike alongside Kane, an unselfish forward who is happy to be a creator rather than always the finisher. Indeed Spurs' first goal, although gift-wrapped by Pickford and Zouma, came with Kane playing the ball over the top for Son.
For the second strike, Son again received the ball high up the pitch from Moussa Sissoko and, when Pickford saved, Alli -- who was playing at the tip of the midfield diamond -- arrived as the second wave of attack to finish. Eriksen later scored in similar circumstances, arriving on the edge of the box after Kane had this time got in behind in a wide area.
The fifth goal also showed the benefits of this system as substitute Erik Lamela, who replaced Alli at the break, advanced through midfield and freed Son, who finished coolly. And, for the sixth goal, Son crossed to Kane.
Pochettino could hardly have dreamed that his tactics would work so effectively and, while Everton were hugely accommodating hosts for this festive encounter, this diamond could become the Argentinian's go-to option as the campaign progresses.
3. Everton continue to be left behind by top six
It took time for Tottenham to gatecrash the Premier League's elite and become Champions League regulars, and Everton would love to emulate them. Indeed, they spent around £86 million in the summer in the hope of pushing themselves into the top six.
However, they were truly humbled by Spurs here.
Of course they will not lose this heavily every week, but this result was not a one-off either. It was the fourth match in a row where they have conceded at least three goals to Tottenham, and they have now failed to win any of their past 23 top-flight fixtures against big-six sides, dating back almost two years to January 2017.
Marco Silva has much work to do.