Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Everton
A sunny Sunday afternoon in North London at the start of a big Premier League season for both clubs.
Two of the original ‘big five’, even if the Premier League era has not been so kind to either.
The prize at stake? – an opening day win to launch the 2020/21 campaign and a chance to lay down a marker for a top-six finish.
Highlights of the game
That was the exact position Spurs finished last term and their boss Jose Mourinho sees Everton as challengers to this tier.
That may have seemed unlikely if you had witnessed a clash between these sides two months ago, a game which really gave an example of how even a boss as fabled as Carlo Ancelotti could only get so far with the current crop of players.
However, Ancelotti has since fired the imagination with his transfer business, particularly the signing of James Rodríguez who was among three ‘Toffees’ debutants alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan.
Mourinho has added Premier League pedigree to his squad during the brief break too and also handed starts to his two new summer recruits, Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.
Premier League highlights did not quickly follow, however, as a compelling first half produced few chances.
Everton controlled possession early on and should have taken a 16th minute lead when Richarlison outpaced Toby Alderweireld and rounded Hugo Lloris only to go too wide and screw his shot over the bar.
Slowly, Spurs eased more into the game and a dangerous delivery from Son Heung-Min narrowly evaded the lurking Harry Kane (who has nine goals in his past nine Premier League appearances against Everton) and the far post before the South Korean slid in Dele Alli whose shot was expertly tipped over by Jordan Pickford.
The England shot-stopper was called into action again before the break as he blocked a half-volley from Doherty after he linked up with Kane.
Spurs made a half-time substitution with Moussa Sissoko replacing the ineffectual Alli but it made no difference.
In fact, Everton were on top for much of the second period with Richarlison heading wide from close range before Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a player who grew in stature under Ancelotti during the second half of last term, thumped a header beyond Lloris to settle the contest.
Lucas Digne provided the pass with a fine free-kick – albeit a few yards closer to goal than it was awarded – and Calvert-Lewin towered over Eric Dier and Alderweireld before heading into the top corner.
That was that and Everton had their first victory away from home against established top-six opposition in 41 attempts.
This SBOTOP writer believes Spurs will improve and Mourinho – defeated on the opening matchday of a league campaign for the first time in his managerial career – will defy his doubters, even if the Premier League betting odds will drift out after this result.
For Everton, early promise for those of a blue persuasion.
This was the 11th time Spurs and Everton have met on the opening weekend of a top-flight season – three times more than any other fixture in top-flight history.
Rodríguez is the first Premier League debutant to create at least five chances since Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal in August 2014.
Digne has assisted 12 Premier League goals since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, with five of those for Calvert-Lewin.
Only Chris Wood (14) and Kane (12) have scored more headed goals in the Premier League since the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign than Calvert-Lewin (11).
In Rodriguez, Allan, Yerry Mina and Richarlison all starting, Everton fielded four South American players in a starting XI for the first time in the Premier League.
Tottenham have won 27 Premier League matches versus Everton, more than against any other opponent.
Mourinho has won 11 league matches against Everton, the joint highest total of his managerial career along with West Ham.
Everton are unbeaten in their opening league match over the past eight seasons since a 1-0 home defeat against QPR in 2011.
Ancelotti has been on the losing side just once in 22 league matches as a manager on the opening weekend of a season, a 2-1 defeat against Bologna at AC Milan in the 2008-09 season.
Potentially, Spurs have a ridiculously congested schedule – something boss Mourinho has been quick to acknowledge.
They are at Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria on Thursday for a Europa League second round qualifying tie before a trip to the south coast to face Southampton next weekend.
Everton have back-to-back home games, starting with a League Cup tie at home to Salford in midweek and then welcome newly promoted West Brom to Goodison Park next Saturday lunchtime.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.