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Everton 2-2 Tottenham: ‘One of their worst performances’ but Spurs’ future ‘really bright’ – Jermaine Jenas analysis

MOTD analsysis

It was a blow for Tottenham to concede such a late equaliser at Everton on Saturday – but Ange Postecoglou’s side definitely did not deserve to win anyhow.

Spurs did not play well at Goodison Park, and I would go as far as saying that was the worst they have played for most of the season. Rodrigo Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Maddison were all very quiet, and Brennan Johnson and Timo Werner were both poor.

Some of that was down to Everton, who despite a lack of quality were good value in terms of their work-rate and giving it a go, but Tottenham’s midfield looked a bit tired to me.

Graphic showing Tottenham's starting XI v Everton: Vicario, Porro, Romero, Van de Ven, Udogie, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Johnson, Maddison, Werner, Richarlison

The big disappointment was the way Everton scored their second goal. I can guarantee you that Postecoglou was screaming at his players at half-time, saying there is only one way this team can score and it is from a set-piece – so don’t give any free-kicks away.

When that keeps happening anyway then it is one of the most frustrating things to see when you are watching on, whether you are the manager or not, but when you are playing it is very hard to stop it from happening.

You have these moments of madness, which is what happened to Dejan Kulusevski at the end – he had the ball, and should have just smashed it up the pitch, but tried something, lost it, and then gave away a stupid foul that allowed Everton to whip the ball in and score.

Still, from the Tottenham players’ perspective, once the dust settles and they realise how badly they played, a result like that will be easier to accept.

Spurs picked up a point from exactly the kind of game they would have lost last season with a team performance like that, and there were also real positives to take from some of their individual displays.

Richarlison shines in Son’s absence

Richarlison’s two goals against Everton meant he has scored nine in his past eight Premier League games, which are fantastic numbers.

That centre-forward position has been one of the massive question marks hanging over Spurs since Postecoglou arrived last summer and Harry Kane left a few weeks later.

Sometimes it has been Son Heung-min playing through the middle, and other games it has been Richarlison – no-one has really nailed that role as their own.

If ‘Sonny’ was not away at the Asian Cup, I suppose he would still be given the job, but his absence has given Richarlison an opportunity and Ange is probably thinking now that he can have some faith in him to put the ball in the net.

At the back, I thought Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero were a different class and the full-backs, Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro were again both very decent.

I look at Tottenham’s back four now and they are all top level. As a unit they have only been together since the start of the season, but they have turned things around very quickly.

They are looking good defensively, and that is not the only area of the team where that is the case. Overall, I think the future does look really bright, and not just with what could happen this season.

Are Spurs ‘the best of the rest’?

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League: 1st Liverpool, 2nd Man City, 3rd Arsenal, 4th Aston Villa, 5th Tottenham & 6th West Ham

Spurs had that spell in November where they had all those injuries and suspensions which knocked them a little bit, but here we are at the start of February and they are still only seven points off the top.

In terms of the title, I think the table is pretty accurate in that Tottenham are just off the pace. This is the part of the season where the best teams start to get stronger and stronger, and they don’t drop points the way Spurs just did.

If the conversation is about a top-four finish, though, then that’s different. I just don’t see them not getting that now.

If Arsenal can pick up their form, it will be them and Liverpool that challenge Manchester City for the title, but I see Spurs as the best of the rest.

They are not far behind Arsenal, either. When I go through the players in both teams, I certainly don’t see Tottenham as being inferior at all, and that has been reflected in their results.

I speak to a lot of Arsenal fans and they always say something along the lines of ‘you lot are annoying the life out of us, because we thought you’d gone’, but I don’t feel as if Spurs are going to go away now.

It wouldn’t surprise me if, come the end of the season, they are only eight points or so behind the champions, whoever they turn out to be. That would be a decent enough finish for them in Postecoglou’s first season – and I think there is a lot more to come.

‘I hope this is what Spurs look like for the next 10 years’

Tottenham forward Timo Werner
Germany forward Timo Werner has joined Tottenham on loan from RB Leipzig until the end of the season

Postecoglou is still building his team and, on that front, I felt he had a fantastic January transfer window with the players that came in.

Werner has bolstered Spurs in those wide attacking areas and although we have not seen much of Radu Dragusin yet, he will provide back-up if anything happens to Van de Ven or Romero. They also signed another youngster, Lucas Bergvall, from Sweden too.

On top of bringing players in, it was important to hold on to people like Ben Davies and Emerson Royal, who are going to play their part as well.

During that period before Christmas, where Spurs were without so many players, Davies was Tottenham’s best player. People might forget that if someone like Maddison or Son hit form in the next few weeks, but what Davies did at that time was massive for the club’s season.

So, it’s not just the team I like the look of when I go through it, I feel like the squad is really strong too.

The question is, can they capitalise on that? Sometimes it feels like teams have got a window of success, say a two-year spell, and they have to make the most of that.

One of Spurs’ worst traits down the years has been their inability to put it all together, and that is their task now. It feels like they are turning into an elite defence and an elite midfield, but can they find an elite striker?

Tottenham striker Son Heung-min
Son has scored 115 goals in 288 Premier League games for Spurs since joining from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015

Son is 31 now and getting to an age where it is less certain that he can stay at the level he has been at for so long, scoring the amount of goals he does and playing the number of games he has been.

There might be a limited amount of time for him as the main guy to take this team where it wants to go, and then they might have to find another way of maintaining it. Can Richarlison keep scoring and turn out to be the answer? We just don’t know, but I hope they can knit it all together in the timeframe I am talking about.

They have got a young squad now – and a strong one – plus a top manager, and they are playing some great football.

From a Spurs perspective, everyone is looking at it and hoping this is what the club looks like for the next 10 years – I know I am. This is just the start, hopefully.

Jermaine Jenas was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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