Spurs draw 0-0 away at Everton in Conte’s first EPL game in charge

After the thrilling mid-week 3-2 victory over Vitesse which also saw the ref brandish three red cards, Sunday’s match against Everton was a rather quiet affair. There was still drama, a red card for Everton, and an overturned VAR penalty that kept the score level for Spurs. But attacking prowess was lacking on both sides in this scrappy and cagey away game.

Both teams had gone into the game off the back of a string of Premier League defeats. Everton had lost their last three and Tottenham their last two. Both teams have struggled to score goals this season. Tottenham Hotspur have now gone 347 minutes without finding the net and 225 minutes without a shot on target in the league.

Conte played a 3-4-3 formation

Tottenham lined up in the first half looking to sit back and play on the counter-attacks that Everton offered them. Setting out in Conte’s 3-4-3 shape, Sergio Reguilon was afforded the opportunity to show the fans his pace and attacking prowess as he supported the Tottenham attacks going forward. The Spaniard should have scored during the end of the first half but couldn’t capitalise on a wonderful pass from Harry Kane.

Antonio Conte seemed flustered on the touchlines as his men seemed to struggle in carrying out his instructions when looking to find creativity in the final third. Despite having the lion’s share of possession, the midfield seemed too flat and uninspiring, leaving Kane with little to do… again.

In the 64th minute of play, Brazilian midfielder Richarlison believed he was unfairly brought down in the box by Spurs captain and keeper Hugo Lloris. Referee Kavanagh agreed on first thought and offered the Toffees the penalty. However, on review, it seemed that the French keeper got the ball before he got his man. The incident seemed to ignite some passion from the home crowd, which gave their team a similar uplift in performance.

Spurs had a break two minutes from the end when substitute Giovanni Lo Celso smacked the ball off the post… inches away from clinching all three points for Tottenham.

Mason Holgate demonstrated his frustration with the afternoon after registering an unnecessarily callous challenge on Hojbjerg which led to his ultimate dismissal.

Conte has his work cut out for him

Obviously, it will take time for any manager to settle his players into a new system before they start adapting and playing cohesively. No doubt about it, Conte is a world-class manager. But those Spurs fans among us who believed his mere presence would turn the current group of players into title challengers at this point are mistaken. This group has bags of potential and has each shown quality and class. Conte will draw that out of them on a regular basis, it will just take a little time.

Conte’s formation relied on Moura and Son showing creativity and feeding off Kane down the centre whilst affording the wing-backs, Reguilon, and Royal more space down the channels. The plan seemed to work but the Spurs players were just not as clinical as they could have been in the final third. This will come with time.

Although most fans, and probably Antonio Conte, would rather his squad stay together under his tutelage for the next few weeks, most Spurs players will be out with their national squads over the international break.

The Spurs starting XI

GK

Lloris

DEF

Romero
Dier
Davies

MDF

Royal
Hojbjerg
Skipp Reguilon

FWD

Moura
Kane
Son

The manager’s thoughts

After the game, Antonio Conte claimed that,

“Goodison Park is not an easy place to come to play, especially after a very intensive week for the players and club. emotionally. Then we played on Thursday and today I have to be happy because I started to see some tactical situations [develop]. For sure we can improve and we have a lot of space for improvement – tactically, physically and mentally. But today I have seen the heart of my players, the passion, the will to fight and to sacrifice”

What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur?

Following the international break Spurs are back at home against Leeds United on 21st November. 4 Days later, they travel to Slovenia to play N.S. Mura.