OPPONENTS Everton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Sunday 12th February 2019
PREVIEW As we approach the final game of the season, it is almost fantastical that we can say that we are close to a fourth place finish and will be playing in the Champions League final.  Forever and a day, Lucas Moura will live in the annals of Spurs history, with Mauricio Pochettino the architect of the admirable achievement, working with the squad he last added to seventeen months ago.

But back to more prosaic matters of the Premier League with Spurs needing a point to ensure Champions League football next season, securing fourth place for the fourth season running, which again would qualify this as a marvellous season.  Everton are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and will want to finish the season with a flourish themselves.  The new ground will give visiting teams a lift and Spurs will have to be aware of that and counter it by putting in the hard yards to make sure we do not let Everton have the opportunity to show what they are capable of, as they did against Arsenal recently.

Keeper Jordan Pickford is a bit of an enigma.  Often playing the role of great shot-stopper, but with the ability to throw in an error of judgement or to try to over-play with his feet.   Solidly built and athletic, he looked the England keeper for the foreseeable future, but he may find competition that goalies of England's recent past haven't had to contend with.  In front of him, Kurt Zouma has been on loan from Chelsea (now there's a statement you don't hear every day) and has impressed enough for the hierarchy at Goodison Park to want to make his deal permanent as he is strong in the air at both ends of the pitch.  Sometimes, he can be rash in tackling and trying to make interceptions, but is a solid central defender, who has been playing alongside Michael Keane, who has made the England team and has been another solid signing.  Seamus Coleman may be missing at left back and his leadership will be missed if he isn't available.  He's another one who gets up to support the attack, as does Frenchman Lucas Digne, who was signed as a full back and is keeping Yerry Mina, the Colombian international out of the side.  Mobile and willing to get forward, his ability to chip in with goals - mainly long range drives - has been useful to the Everton revival recently.   Phil Jagielka is still with the club and adds experienced back-up if needed, with the same going for Leighton Baines.

Everton might be light up front, with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison both out, so either Cenk Tosun or Ademola Lookman will be their lone striker.  Lookman was a player who Tottenham looked at, but he went to Merseyside and then had a loan spell with RB Leipzig before returning and his playing time has been limited.  Fast and a regular goal-scorer with Charlton Athletic, he still has the abilit to score given the chance.   Tosun is a different beast and will probably lead the attack, using his physical presence to unsettle the Spurs back line.  A Turkish international, he had a very good record with Besiktas, but has been a bit part player, as he has not been selected to lead the line that often. I suppose there is a chance that Theo Walcott might be fit to play for Everton.

Added spice comes in the (large) shape of Andre Gomes, playing in midfield on loan from Barcelona.  Silva is hoping to retain his services by making the loan permanent, but Spurs are also keen on the player, so it will be interesting to see him close up and how he performs against a potential new employer.  If he is to join Spurs, would he prefer that they will definitely be playing Champions League football ?  I am sure he will be thoroughly professional about things. and give it 100 for the Toffees.  A familiar name in Gylfi Sigurdsson returns to N17 and he is the mainstay of the Everton midfield, using the ability to create and score goals he displayed here for Tottenham.  Bernard was another player who Spurs eyed when playing for Shakhtar Donetsk, with an eye for a pass and able to take people on with the ball.  Small and slightly lightweight, he makes the most of his skills and has grown into his role at the club, where he is grateful to the ball-winner sin midfield to get the ball for him.  Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin are the two enforcers in midfield and we can expect them to snap into tackles hoping the Spurs players have their minds on June 1st.  Schneiderlin has found playing time hard to come by with the previously aforementioned four the main selections during the season, but he will be wanting to take his opportunity if picked.  Youngster Tom Davies is a player willing to run with the ball and support the attacker, but has had a difficult second season, while James McCarthy is only just returning from a long term injury as the season draws to a close.

It will be hard to show the intensity that characterised the final 52 minutes of the second half in Amsterdam, but with the buoyant atmosphere of that win still around the squad, it should be enough to secure a result that will achieve our basic target for this season, which has featured long injuries, two "home" stadiums and no new players coming in.  And what an achievement that will be if we can do it !

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Everton   1
Spurs have a lot of injury problems with Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Harry Kane (ankle), Davinson Sanchez (thigh), Harry Winks (groin) and while Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth are both serving the first game of three game bans.  Danny Rose (hamstring) and Victor Wanyama (thigh) will be assessed after undergoing monitoring.  .
Everton will be two strikers light with Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both out injured and Seamus Coleman is a doubt, but loanee midfielder Andre Gomes returns after suspension. 

Sky Sports 1 -  Game of the Day -  Sunday 20.30
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Premier League Kick off 15:00
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1) Everton  2 (0)


Dier  02m 48s
Eriksen  74m 28s


Walcott  68m 52s
Tosun  71m 38s



Schneiderlin  (foul on Sissoko)  71
Digne  (foul on Walker-Peters)  90


Crowd :   60,124 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Andre Marriner (West Midlands) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Scott Ledger; Mr. Simon Long
Fourth Official :  David Coote  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Everton : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

Eric DIER 
33  Ben DAVIES

17  Moussa SISSOKO

20  DELE Alli (12  Victor WANYAMA  46)
Christian ERIKSEN 
11  Erik LAMELA  (52  Oliver SKIPP  77)

27  Lucas MOURA
18  Fernando LLORENTE  (  9  VIncent JANSSEN  77)

Unused subs: 
24  Serge AURIER
  George MARSH

    1  Jordan PICKFORD

  5  Kurt ZOUMA
13  Yerry MINA
  4  Michael KEANE
12  Lucas DIGNE     

10  Gylfi SIGURDSSON (c)
  4  Mrogan SCHNEIDERLIN     
17  Idrissa GUEYE  (  8  Andre GOMES  65)
20  BERNARD  (31  Ademola LOOKMAN  65)

14  Cenk TOSUN 
11  Theo WALCOTT 

Unused subs: 
43  Jonjoe KENNY
  6  Phil JAGIELKA
  3  Leighton BAINES
26  Tom DAVIES


Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Marco Silva
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  SportPesa
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :  Umbro
Match report

Sun shining; Champions League place booked; one more point or the avoidance of a large defeat to see us back in the same competition next season.  What could possibly spoil the day ?

Well, unexpectedly, it was nearly Everton.  A Toffee supporting friend told me before the game that we were mad putting out s strong side, as our Youth team could have beaten them.  Maybe he might have been right.  It wasn't that the first eleven were on the beach (especially as there is still one big game left), but they did go to sleep a little.  As it was a point was enough to see Spurs into next season's Champions League whatever the outcome of the final in Madrid.

Spurs kicked off and attacked the Paxton Road end, as is the new norm for the return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  With Lucas carrying on from his semi=final hat-trick, he looked keen to use his pace and was soon fouled, with the free kick earning a corner.  From it, Lamela swung it in and the ball was knocked down off the falling Mina's chest and it dropped nicely for Eric Dier to power it past Pickford from a couple of yards out.  Inside three minutes and Spurs were a goal ahead !  Dier had a torrid spell from the turn of the year, but the goal put a smile on his face and probably had the opposite effect at Turf Moor, where Arsenal had to overturn an eight goal swing if they were to pinch fourth place. 

Had Spurs scored too early or would they go on to repeat the goal-fest at Goodison earlier this season ?  For a few minutes, it looked like the latter, before a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick picked out Michael Keane at the far post, but his downward header was weak and straight at Hugo.  When you don't see it too often, you forget what a good deliverer of the ball Gylfi is and you can't help but think we let him go too soon, but the desire to play can't be denied and he probably has played more than if he had stayed at Spurs.  Tottenham looked good for another goal with just under a quarter of an hour gone, when they broke with three players against one defender, but Lamela got the ball caught under his feet and by the time he passed it to Dele, blue shirts had recovered and he shot too high.  Llorente was free just to his right and that was probably the better option, but the chance came and went.

Everton were looking for a way back into the match and a low cross evaded Tosun and Walcott could only weakly poke it at goal, as he stretched to reach it ... a risky manoeuvre considering his injury record.  The sun was getting to some people.  A long corner missed out Fernando in the goalmouth and fell to Kyle Walker-Peters at the far post.  The right back obviously fancied it, as he smashed a shot at goal, but it flew into the crowd going over the bar with great comfort.  Dier was caught one-on-one with Tosun running onto a long ball, but the Everton striker shoved Eric over, when he could have put more legal pressure on him inside his own box.  That came just before the Turkish forward pulled a low ball back for Sigurdsson, but Toby Alderweireld made a great block to prevent Lloris being troubled.  The Blue side of Merseyside were looking lively and Gylfi tried to pull the ball back from the dead ball line, but it was blocked and then KWP got a vital touch on a cross into the box, but the ball fell for Bernard, whose low shot looked like it might dribble inside the right hand post, but Hugo dived full length to get hands to it to make sure it didn't sneak in.  That was on the half hour.  It was three minutes later that Spurs went close, as Erik Lamela put the ball in front of Dele to strike a low effort a foot past Pickford's right hand post.  While Dele wasn't having a telling effect on the game, he was linking well and getting in positions to have a go at goal. 

Keane jumped highest again to a Digne free-kick this time, but couldn't nod the ball down on target, but Sigurdsson got a low shot on target from the right and Lloris was smartly down to stop the ball squeezing past his right hand.  Everton were awarded a free-kick, reasonably central, just before half-time and Digne struck it, but straight at the wall, with Spurs defending a corner well, as Lamela headed it out and the ref blew for the interval.

After taking a short break from the sun, but not being able to get served under the East Stand, as service was so slow, it was back for the second half, with Premium Seat holders not seemingly aware that they were supposed to take their seats before the whistle blew (not that they could find their way back to them).  Spurs exchanged an early corner with an Everton free-kick, neither of which amounted to much, but taking a quick thro form Lucas Moura, Eriksen fired an early shot at goal and it was out for a corner off an Everton defender.  The visitors should have got back into the game, when Bernard was put through on goal by Tosun's through pass, but faced with the keeper, the Brazilian midfielder could only nudge his shot a foot wide of the goal.  Christian Eriksen wasn't having the most productive game, but if he is keeping it for Madrid, then I am all for that.  He had a couple of goes at playing in team-mates in the area, but failed and then the chance of firing a loose clearance back in went amiss, when he had a mighty air shot at the ball.  He did pick out Llorente with a corner though, althoughthe Spanish striker found Pickford with his downward header.

A double substitution (including transfer linked Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes and former Charlton forward Ademola Lookman) showed Silva was going for something from the match and within four minutes they were level.  SIgurdsson played Walcott into the box and he slipped as he shot, possibly wrong-footing Lloris, who saw the shot go in off the foot of his right hand post, with Walcott right of centre.  Schneiderlin was put in the book for pulling Sissoko back, but within three minutes of the first goal, Everton were suddenly ahead.  Sigurdsson did well to play the ball down the left wing, while on the floor, for Digne to cross to the near post, where Wanyama chested it behind for a corner in an awkward manner.  The ball was played in by Gylfi and it was met again by Keane, whose effort was saved in front of the line by Hugo, but it dropped in front of him in the middle of the goal and Tosun forced the ball over the line, along with Keane and Lloris with it.  Everton had turned the game around and interrupted their fans celebrating another Manchester City goal at Brighton to prevent Liverpool winning the Premier League to cheer a goal of their own.

The cheers lasted for Manchester City, but not for their own side, as three minutes later, Tottenham were back level.  Lamela made a forward run and Gomes put in a cheap foul tackle that would not have impressed either his own manager or the watching prospective employers at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.  From a few yards left of centre and 22 yards out, Christian Eriksen stepped up to take it with someone near me wanting Sigurdsson to take it !  That wasn't necessary, as he played the ball to the right of the wall as he looked at it and Pickford had taken half a step the other way, leaving him stranded as the ball nestled in the keeper's left hand bottom corner.  the goal that ended up getting us a valuable point here was just another in a long line of vital scores he has made this season, which hasn't been his best by any means, but he doesn't hide and doesn't stop trying to set up or score goals that mean a lot to the club.

Crosses came into both boxes, with Gomes winning one in his own, while Tosun got on the end of one at the other end, forcing Lloris to go low to grab the ball in front of his line low down.  A few more set-pieces were slug into the Tottenham box, but they defended them well and when Dier cleared away a Mina header, it was all over for another campaign.  Well, the League campaign, as our season will continue into June with the Champions League final (I can't hear those words often enough).  Shirts and conversations were exchanged between the players and the fans gave them both a rousing cheer as they left the field. 

It wasn't for long, as the Spurs players re-emerged for the lap of appreciation, after Heung-Min Son had taken the silverware with both the Player of the Season and Goal of the Season (Chelsea at Wembley) trophies.  They looked happy enough, with their children in tow, kicking the ball into the nets to great cheers and the songs swept down from the South Stand, but you always wonder who won't be making that trip around the pitch at the last home game next season.

Players might want to leave for ambition, for winning things, for more money, but we are in the Champions League final and will strengthen in the summer.  Everything is in place for the club to move forward and the next step might not be too long in the future.  If players do leave, others will replace them and Pochettino can create a new dynasty, having said some rebuilding will be necessary in the close season already.

A season to remember, with highs and lows, but I wonder how it will finish up ?

Marco van Hip

Match facts

Christian Eriksen's goal was the 1,067th Premier league goal this season, which was the highest number in a 38 goal season.

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Manchester City 4 -day
Burnley 1 Arsenal 3 -day
Crystal Palace 5 Bournemouth 3 -day
Fulham 0 Newcastle United 4 -day
Leicester City 0 Chelsea 0 -day
Liverpool 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 -day
Manchester United 0 Cardiff City 2 -day
Southampton 1 Huddersfield Town 1 -day
Watford 1 West Ham United London 4 -day


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 38 32 2 4 95 23 98 +72
2 Liverpool 38 30 7 1 89 22 97 +67
3 Chelsea 38 21 9 8 63 39 72 +24
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 23 2 13 67 39 71 +28
5 Arsenal 38 21 7 10 73 51 70 +22
6 Manchester United 38 19 9 10 65 54 66 +11
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 16 9 13 47 46 57 +1
8 Everton 38 15 9 14 54 46 54 +8
9 Leicester City 38 15 7 16 51 48 52 +3
10 West Ham United London 38 15 8 15 52 55 52 -3
11 Watford 38 14 8 16 52 59 50 -7
12 Crystal Palace 38 14 7 17 51 53 47 -2
13 Newcastle United 38 12 9 17 42 48 46 -6
14 Bournemouth 38 13 6 19 56 70 45 -14
15 Burnley 38 11 7 20 45 69 40 -23
16 Southampton 38 9 12 16 45 65 39 -20
17 Brighton & Hove Albion 38 9 9 20 35 60 36 -25
18 Cardiff City 38 10 4 24 34 69 34 -35
19 Fulham 38 7 5 25 34 81 26 -47
20 Huddersfield Town 38 3 7 28 22 76 18 -54

Position before match :  4th
Finishing Position :  4th

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