Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Everton
- Goal: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.0m)
- Assist: Lucas Digne (£6.0m)
- Bonus: Digne x3, Calvert-Lewin x2, Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) x1
Tottenham Hotspur and Everton met on Sunday for the second time in two months.
Only one goal separated the two sides again but, following Spurs’ narrow victory in July, this time it was the Toffees who came away from north London with all three points.
While it may seem like an all-too-convenient narrative to say that Everton’s trio of new signings were the difference between the two matches, there was a lot of truth in it.
Allan (£5.5m) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.5m) added bite and energy to a previously uninspired central midfield, while James Rodriguez (£7.5m) oozed class and defied predictions – including our own – that he may take a little time to get up to speed after a lack of first-team football at Real Madrid.
Spurs’ two debutants didn’t quite have such an auspicious afternoon but Matt Doherty (£6.0m) did at least show encouraging glimpses of the goal threat that marked him out as a popular Fantasy Premier League option at Wolves.
RODRIGUEZ TO RICHARLISON
Carlo Ancelotti sent his troops out in a 4-3-3 for Sunday’s match, the formation his side ended pre-season in.
Richarlison (£8.0m) and Rodriguez were given the nod to flank Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.0m) in a three-man attack and while the Everton number nine grabbed the game’s only goal when nodding in a teasing Lucas Digne (£6.0m) free-kick, it was the two wingers who really caught the eye.
Rodriguez’s touch was excellent and his vision just as good, with the Colombian setting up five Everton chances – all for Richarlison.
He appears to be sharing set-piece duties with Digne, too, with Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.0m) benched.
If there were any quibbles about Rodriguez’s display from a Fantasy perspective, it’s that he was often much deeper than Richarlison on the opposite flank.
The Brazil international, indeed, registered over four times as many penalty box touches as his new teammate.
But Rodriguez still went close with a 25-yard effort that crept just wide and got into an excellent position just after half-time, only to shank Calvert-Lewin’s cut-back from 12 yards.
But for Richarlison’s profligate finishing, he would have had at least one assist to his name, too.
The former Watford man nodded a presentable chance wide from a pinpoint Rodriguez cross just after the interval, later curling two efforts narrowly off-target when being found by the Colombian.
Richarlison’s best chance came from an errant Ben Davies (£5.0m) pass but, after skinning Toby Alderweireld (£5.5m) and Hugo Lloris (£5.5m), the newly reclassified FPL forward could only blaze over from a tight angle – to the annoyance of Calvert-Lewin, who was unmarked and waiting for a tap-in.
An off-day for Richarlison in front of goal, then, but plenty of encouragement for the Gameweek 2 clash with West Brom, who allowed Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) plenty of chances from the Leicester left on Sunday despite operating with a five-man backline.
Doherty was one of the reasons that Richarlison had a lot of joy in north London.
The Brazilian had the beating of the Ireland international on a few occasions (his 51st-minute header and 71st-minute curler, for starters) and, in more than one instance, Doherty was half-way up the other end of the pitch when Richarlison received the ball.
That last point is not a criticism, however, as the Spurs right-back was encouraged to get forward in the lop-sided 4-2-3-1 that Jose Mourinho employs.
One of the questions from FPL managers over Doherty’s move to north London was whether he would continue to “underlap” into goal-scoring positions or whether he would be more of a cross-merchant like Serge Aurier (£5.5m).
Two darts into the Everton box just before half-time may have answered that, with one of his runs resulting in a glorious chance from six yards out that Jordan Pickford (£5.5m) blocked with his legs.
Doherty was clearly flagging by the end of his debut and it may be a few weeks before we see the best of him, with Mourinho saying:
The players who didn’t have pre-season, we don’t have now the possibility to give them a pre-season but we have a lot of matches now to play consecutively and we have to use these matches, not just to win them and the knockout ones are obviously decisive ones with everything decided in 120 minutes or even penalties, and try to use this to improve the form of some players because some of them were really in trouble.
You can look to Doherty, a player who is normally in incredible condition. He didn’t have pre-season. He went direct from holidays to national team matches. No pre-season at all. Direct and not one single training session, direct from holidays to the national team and he played two consecutive matches and today he was not Matt Doherty like he normally is.
SPURS ATTACK BLANKS
There was no joy for owners of Spurs’ attackers, either.
Harry Kane (£10.5m) followed up his sluggish displays for England with a tired-looking performance, although did tee up Doherty for the right-back’s chance with an excellent chip.
Dele Alli (£8.0m) lasted only 45 minutes of the game, meanwhile, with Mourinho citing tactical reasons for his half-time substitution:
Tactical, yeah. They were playing only with one pivot, Allan was in that position there. Gomes and Doucoure were pressing high, lots of space behind this pressure. I needed more dynamic there.
It was some distance from being a positive Spurs display but it wasn’t the worst we’ve ever seen from Mourinho’s side: as well as Doherty’s chance, Alli saw a shot tipped over by Pickford following a swift break, Son Heung-min (£9.0m) had a goalbound shot headed away and Kane was inches from connecting with Son’s teasing delivery.
All of that came in the first half, however, and the Lilywhites ran out of steam after the break, with Mourinho’s change at the interval not having any effect.
The Spurs boss said:
Look. Harry Kane trained with us once. Just once. One day. Moussa Sissoko just a couple. I’m not going player by player but for different reasons our players they didn’t have that proper pre-season.
We had cases of positive COVID-19. Of course we have the right to say which players they were, but we had players with positive COVID. We had other players in quarantine due to proximity with the positive players.
We had a player in quarantine because he was on holiday in a country that England demands quarantine.
We had a national team couple of weeks, many of the players went with their national teams so the pre-season was a difficult one for many of the players.
In the second half after their goal we were poor and in my opinion we were not physically strong, no intensity and the team lacks in this moment many players physical condition.
Allan’s love of a tackle was something we highlighted in a previous article and no FPL midfielder won more than the Brazilian in Gameweek 1.
He and Doucoure rightly earned a lot of the praise on Sunday but Michael Keane (£5.0m) continued his fine post-restart form at centre-half and, perhaps most crucially of all, Pickford was dependable between the posts.
The England goalkeeper was a bit of a weak link last season and no matter how good Everton’s defenders and covering midfielders are, they’ll need him to vastly improve on his 2019/20 form in order to rack up the clean sheets.
The back four may well be settled for some time, meanwhile, with Mason Holgate (£5.0m) potentially ruled out for up to three months:
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 1
- Fulham 0-3 Arsenal
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton
- Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United
- West Ham United 0-1 Newcastle United
- West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Leicester City
- Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Wolves
- Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Chelsea