Christmas goal glut for Tottenham as Everton gift Spurs a helping hand at the Premier League title
‘Twas the game before Christmas, and the goals were non-stop, with Spurs beating Everton, to close in on the top.
Everyone involved with Tottenham Hotspur was left with a warm feeling going into Christmas as they closed within two points of Manchester City, and six off Liverpool in a what was is their hardest fixture of the festive period comfortably out of the way.
It will be a blue Christmas for Everton fans, but a delightful white one in north London. Six goals scored and two conceded in a ding-dong match leaving Spurs merrily on high, with Bournemouth and Wolves at home, then Cardiff away on New Year’s Day. By 2019, Tottenham could conceivably be even nearer to top of the tree and firmly in with a shot at the Premier League title, and there isn’t really a better present hardened Spurs fans could wish for.
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An early present was gifted to Heung-min Son for their opening goal, wrapped by Jordan Pickford with Kurt Zouma adding the bow. Hard to tell who was really to blame: Zouma was running one way — towards his own goal — and Pickford the other, each trying to reach Harry Kane’s through ball. Perhaps both were culpable as they hesitated and bumped into each on the edge of Everton’s penalty area, allowing the ball to bounce off Zouma and into Son’s path. The angle was still incredibly tight and the South Korean was far from goal, but he found the empty net nonetheless to level, after Theo Walcott had given Everton the lead.
Kane’s first — Tottenham’s third — just before half-time could also fall into the gift-wrapped category. Kieran Trippier struck a free kick onto the right post and Pickford’s dive had taken him out of the goal, but why or how Kane, World Cup golden boot winner and perennial league top scorer, was left completely free to tap in the rebound, into an empty net again, are questions Everton will have to ask themselves this week.
Perhaps also when they analyse Tottenham’s second goal, where Dele Alli found himself unmarked as well to put in another rebound. This one was a brilliant Spurs move, Moussa Sissoko one-two with Alli on half-way, Sissoko feeding Son on the left, who powered a shot at Everton’s goal. Pickford saved but it went straight back out to Alli, who had continued his run from earlier in the move, to fire under everyone.
Another three more followed after the break. Christian Eriksen guided a half-volley into the right of Everton’s goal, and then Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled another back for Everton with a decent strike that Lloris probably should’ve saved.
Comeback hopes dashed
It offered the glimmer of a Christmas comeback that wasn’t to be, as substitute Erik Lamela threaded Son through once more, who tucked in his second, and Kane joined his team-mate on two each, as Son crossed low for the striker to slide and score.
This was only the 74th minute, but it felt a long, long time since Walcott had opened the scoring for Everton, on 21 minutes.
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The two-nil Dele Alli flashed a Arsenal supporters who threw a plastic bottle at the midfielder in the north London derby in midweek was nicked straight from Walcott’s playbook, from when the winger did the same in the same fixture back in January 2014, motivated by the Spurs supporters who were pelting him with coins as he was carried from the field injured on a stretcher, with Arsenal two-nil ahead.
Walcott liked it enough to repeat the gesture in front of a photographer when Arsenal’s players paraded around the Emirates after their final home game of that season. Safe to say he is not too popular with the white half of north London, even now that he lives 170 miles away in Merseyside.
Davinson Sanchez was straight back in Tottenham’s defence after seven weeks out and took a while to find his passes. One, two, three long balls forward missed their man and it was one stray ball out from the back which led to Walcott’s goal. Zouma headed the ball straight back towards Tottenham’s penalty area, Sigurdsson slipped in Dominic Calvert-Lewin and his cutback found Walcott who slotted first-time under Lloris.
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But less than an hour later, Spurs fans were chanting: “Theo, what’s the score?” Followed by a sustained period calling manager Mauricio Pochettino’s name, which continued after the final whistle. He is one man they will not want to see in red this Christmas.
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