We've seen this game three times before, and yet, Andre Villas-Boas had no clue that it was happening again.
It's been a couple of hours, and I still don't feel very capable of writing a recap of today's Tottenham match that lives up to the standards of this site. I don't really get angry and was never in a state where I couldn't recount the key moments of today's match in a coherent fashion, but I was -- and still am -- very irritated with Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur's players.
I'm still not sure that I'm capable of writing something that lives up to this site's normal standard, but I'm going to try.
Spurs lost to Everton in a manner similar to the way they've dropped points in most of their matches this season. Saturday's game was the biggest stomach punch of the bunch, but it wasn't terribly dissimilar from the league games against West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City or Manchester City. In each of those cases, Tottenham took a lead, made a late substitution in an attempt to solidify the midfield and hold the lead, then threw away the result.
For the fourth time this season, that exact scenario played out. After a mostly uneventful first half in which both sides had a few decent attacks, but never really looked like scoring, Spurs were the first to score in the second half. Clint Dempsey did the honors, scoring a deflected goal in the 76th minute.
That goal came after Tom Huddlestone came into the game for Aaron Lennon. Later, a very tired Moussa Dembele was understandably replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson. With two of their most composed players on the ball in the match, replacing players who are generally much more direct, Tottenham should have been able to slow the game down, flood the middle and keep the ball. They did not succeed, just like they did not succeed in the three aforementioned matches where a similar strategy was utilized.
Incredibly, despite Everton's complete bossing of the match from Dempsey's goal onward, it took until stoppage time for the Toffees to score. Lazy defending led to Steven Pienaar's equalizer and Nikica Jelavic's winner. Steven Caulker showed his inexperience, William Gallas showed his age, and the team as a whole played lackadaisically as if stoppage time does not exist and the game was won when the clock hit 90:00.
Tottenham Hotspur have now conceded 10 goals this season during the last 10 minutes of matches this season and scored none. This is on Villas-Boas and his asinine late-match strategy. It's the strategy that doomed his Chelsea teams, who rode great 75-minute performances and 15-minute collapses to a finish outside of the top four last season.
Villas-Boas has done a lot of excellent things for Tottenham this season, and he's obviously a much better manager than the English media were ever willing to give him credit for, but it's truly inexcusable that he continues to make the same exact mistake over and over again.