Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur analysis: An encouraging start to Koeman's reign at Goodison

Ross Barkley gave the Toffees an early lead, only for Erik Lamela to hit back and earn Spurs a share of the spoils.

Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur analysis: An encouraging start to Koeman's reign at Goodison
Everton's Ross Barkley battled with Victor Wanyama for the ball on the opening day of the season. (Image: Getty Images)

A new manager and new investment at Everton has led to fresh optimism at the club following a disappointing campaign last season that culminated in the sacking of Roberto Martinez.

Ronald Koeman's first competitive game in charge of the Blues was a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur and there was plenty of reason for optimism around Goodison Park after an encouraging display as the new era began.

A positive start to the club's new era

Everton were full value for the lead they took into half-time thanks to Ross Barkley's fifth-minute free-kick that flew unassisted past Hugo Lloris after Kevin Mirallas had been fouled. Spurs came out with greater purpose in the second-half, however, and that, combined with the introduction of Vincent Janssen and the tiring legs of Everton, helped them get back on level terms just before the hour mark when Erik Lamela headed past Maarten Stekelenburg.

Koeman was pleased overall with his team's display, particularly his side's intensity in the first-half. The Dutchman's style of football has quickly been incorporated at the club; an aggressive, high tempo, pressing game. The Toffees were committed, organised, quick and strong; they fed Gerard Deulofeu well down the channels and their incessant pressing; breaking up Tottenham's attacks before immediately going on the front foot.

The Toffees did, however, succumb to Lamela's equaliser but Koeman will have no doubt taken comfort in the manner in which his team stood firm as Tottenham piled the pressure on Everton following the equaliser. The Toffees' game management was put under scrutiny last season, but the Blues held firm to earn a point, partly due to two brilliant saves by debutant Stekelenburg.

Ross Barkley celebrates after scoring Everton's only goal. | Photo: Getty Images
Ross Barkley celebrates after scoring Everton's only goal. | Photo: Getty Images

This is just the start...

This was, of course, just the start of what many Everton supporters hope will be a successful era for the club. The draw against Tottenham may have been a positive start, but everyone associated with the club will be keen for the team to build on Saturday's game as new players arrive, injured players return and player's fitness levels improve.

Koeman was right when he said in is pre-match press conference that his team were only at "70 per cent" physically after having an extended summer break. The Toffees started quickly - closing down the ball and breaking with numbers and conviction - before fading in the second-half as their fitness levels became evident. Fitness is certainly an issue and there is work to be done on that front, but when they are at full flight not many will be able to live with their pressing.

Everton were also without Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku through injury, meaning a Premier League debut for 19-year-old Mason Holgate and a false nine role for Gerard Deulofeu in a 3-5-2 formation. You suspect that if Koeman had another two - and a couple of more signings - behind him, Everton might have won this game; as it was, despite missing key players, they preserved a valuable point against a team that finished third last season and was at full strength.

Gerard Deulofeu was Everton's main attacking outlet in the absence of Romelu Lukaku. | Photo: Getty Images
Gerard Deulofeu was Everton's main attacking outlet in the absence of Romelu Lukaku. | Photo: Getty Images

New signings impress, but more needed

Wales captain Ashley Williams was introduced to the home crowd before the game after completing his move from Swansea City earlier this week, while the club's other two summer signings impressed.

One of Koeman's main priorities this summer was finding a replacement for Tim Howard, who returned to the USA, and the Everton boss moved quickly to sign goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, a player he knows well, from Fulham. Everton's main goalkeeping target of the summer was Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel, but after he committed to a new five-year deal at the Premier League champions, it could be that Stekelenburg stays number one until January or beyond.

Stekelenburg had virtually nothing to do in the first-half and he could do little to stop Lamela's equaliser, but he produced a brilliant save to deny Janssen from point-black range and a fine reaction save to push over Lamela's deflected effort. Stekelenburg was not the only debutant to impress as Idrissa Gueye  proved a perfect fit for an Everton side under Ronald Koeman.

The defensive midfielder signed from Aston Villa for £7.1million last week and shone in the Everton midfield for the entire 90 minutes he played. Early comparisons with one of last season's standout stars at Leicester, N'Golo Kante, appear to be well-founded; he was an easy pick for man-of-the-match with his tenacity and incessant pressing.

Having said that, new signings are still needed at both ends of the pitch. Holgate had a solid Premier League debut at centre-back and, while they have already signed Williams from Swansea, Everton need extra cover, especially if Koeman is going to continue playing three in defence.

At the other end of the pitch, the fear was that without turning their superiority into more goals, Everton could rue not taking their chances before half-time. With Lukaku sidelined, Deulofeu was given a free role as Everton's main attacking outlet; the Spaniard did cause Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld problems, but he is not a line-leading Premier League forward like the Belgian.

Lukaku if he stays, will be the main man, but Koeman knows he desperately needs cover and support for the Belgian before the end of the transfer window.