Jose Mourinho held showdown talks after the Sheffield United defeat in which he demanded more fight from his players. Evidently, the Special One forgot to mention that he wanted the aggression lacking at Bramall Lane to be directed at Everton rather than each other. Either way, the bizarre bust-up between Hugo Lloris and Heung-Min Son at half-time shows there are still plenty of issues that Mourinho needs to iron out in his squad.
Although three points and a clean sheet will paper over some of those cracks. Indeed, it was a night for friendly fire as a forgettable game was decided by Michael Keane’s unfortunate own goal.
But the main talking point was how Tottenham managed to get involved in a tunnel bust-up with their opponents over 70 yards away.
To aid social distancing, Tottenham use the NFL changing area at White Hart Lane on the far side of the pitch, giving their opponents the run of the football facilities at the opposite end of the half-way line.
Yet there was the Spurs skipper Lloris dashing from the edge of his penalty area to get involved, shouting and gesticulating at the tunnel-bound Son, causing general bemusement among the rest of the staff.
Only the presence of Giovani Lo Celso standing stoically between the two players long enough for the goalkeeper to be calmed by other team-mates stopped things spilling over further – although it was hard to know what all the fuss was about.
Certainly, the half-time scuffle was more action than anybody had seen in the previous 45 minutes.
And despite there not having been a single shot on target, Tottenham were even winning.
Harry Kane’s attempt to force the ball goalwards rebounded kindly for Giovanni Lo Celso in the 24th minute and the Argentina international’s follow-up was going wide before striking the chest of Michael Keane and bouncing into the opposite corner.
A low drive from Lucas Moura three minutes earlier was the first effort of any sort at either end as Tottenham’s possession dominance failed to make much headway against an Everton team which are really beginning to take shape under Carlo Ancelotti.
Possibly the cause of Lloris’s half-time angst was the freedom with which Richarlison was able to run at goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to fire a shot just inches wide of the France World Cup winner’s far post.
If Son was in some way culpable it was not immediately obvious how to the few sparse souls dotted around the stadium and his permanent smile was very much back in place when the two teams re-emerged for the second half.
Everton had replaced Alex Iwobi with Anthony Gordon and his early shot was sign first of the visitors’ greater attacking intent but also that Lloris’s concentration was unaffected as he saved comfortably.
On 53 minutes, it was Son who finally had Tottenham’s first shot on target – sharp, low drive that was well saved by Pickford.