BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 19TH DECEMBER, 2015
SOUTHAMPTON 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(2)
Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- D. Cann & M. Wilkes
Fourth official:- O. Langford
Southampton (4-2-3-1):- Gazzaniga; Cedric, Fonte (Capt.), Van Dijk, Bertrand; Clasie (sub Ward-Prowse, 78), Wanyama; S.Davis (sub Long, 64), Mane, Tadic (sub Juanmi, 64); Pelle
Subs not used:- K. Davis; Yoshida, Targett, Romeu
Booked:- Fonte (foul)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Lamela, Alli (sub Carroll, 79), Eriksen (sub Chadli, 86); Kane (sub Son, 91)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Wimmer; Bentaleb, Winks
Booked:- Alli (foul on Juanmi)
Spurs do their best and go fourth!
On yet another Premier League match day when results did not necessarily go to plan (Man Utd lost at home to Norwich, and Everton lost at home to Leicester), Spurs at least did their bit, and their best by winning away and taking fourth place from United on goal difference. Everybody has to look out for Leicester now though, who will retain top place with 38 points from 17 games. That's 9 points more than Spurs, and for The "Foxes", the dream is surely on!
Mousa Dembele, who has been missed in recent games, made a welcome return, and Spurs fans repeatedly chanted his name towards the end of the game. Spurs withheld an early onslaught by "The Saints" who had several chances in the first 15 to 20 minutes, before closing the half with two fine goals, and keeping control of the game in the second half. Spurs have now gone seven away games unbeaten, and seven games against Southampton unbeaten since they returned to the Premier League. We have won six of those seven games.
Danny Rose was absent through illness, so Ben Davies got his first Premier League start since 4th October at Swansea. Dembele slotted in beside Eric Dier, and Dele Alli played between Lamela and Eriksen.
Southampton also played 4-2-3-1, but in the early stages, Pelle, Mane and Tadic played advanced roles. That early pressure started with Lloris having to come well off his line to take the ball off Mane's head, as the ball was crossed from the right. Mane then received another ball from the right, and had a shot deflected, winning a corner.
Tadic crossed from the left after 7 minutes, and it was Mane again, who threatened goal, with Lloris making a good save with Pelle following up.
Spurs finally got a foothold in the game after 13 minutes, and played some nice football, with Dembele, Lamela, and Kane involved, before Eriksen won a corner. After another Southampton attack, Spurs responded, and Eriksen hit a cross/shot from the right wide across the goal.
Lloris seemed to have a little argument with Kyle Walker and presumably had wanted him available for a clearance. At this stage the Spurs keeper was taking his time over goal kicks etc, and was booed by the home crowd. Referee Kevin Friend did have a gentle word with the keeper over time. Later in the game, Spurs fans gave "Saints" keeper Gazzaniga stick for similar reasons.
The referee missed a push by Mane in the middle, and allowed the player to charge forward, but Lloris came off better again.
Christian Eriksen had a free kick blocked on the half hour, and in the follow-up Alderweireld hit a long range header over the keeper, which landed on top of the net. Harry Kane had a good shot from the right well saved by the keeper, winning another corner.
Harry Kane scored a very good goal, after excellent refereeing by Mr. Friend, who waved play-on at least twice, as Spurs tried to ride midfield challenges. The second of these was aimed at Dele Alli, who got the ball to Kane, who took it on and beat Gazzaniga inside his left post from the edge of the area.
Three minutes later, Spurs had a two goal lead. A midfield ball ran free to Kyle Walker who was in space on the right. Kyle hit a great ball behind the defence, beyond the back post, where Dele Alli lapped it up, and scored from close range.
Many Spurs fans were already singing "Jingle Bells" at half-time, whilst a lot of us were only too well aware of the possibility that Spurs would not retain control.
Two minutes into the second half, Eric Dier hit a great ball to Walker, who passed inside to Kane, who showed skill and determination to take the ball on, hitting his shot beyond the back post. Harry was playing his 100th game today.
We had some heavy rain at this point, and the home side desperately tried to get back into the game. Mane passed inside from the left to Pelle, who hit a decent shot, but Lloris held the ball with both hands stretched above his head.
Dembele had already been playing well, but he seemed to take more and more control around this stage, sweeping up in front of the stalwart Spurs defence, and hardly putting a foot wrong, as he sparked Spurs' forward moves. A good ball by Dembele to Alli down the right channel led to a final shot by Eriksen, who won a corner.
Ronald Koeman made a double substitution after 64 minutes, and one of these was for Tadic, who is usually such a threat. One of the new men was Shane Long, but he didn't "bother the scorers"
Dele Alli won a free kick just outside the Southampton area, fouled by his opposing number - Juanmi. This incident came after Harry Kane had appeared to take the ball out of play on the right touchline missed by the assistant referee. Lamela took this kick, which was deflected for a corner.
Lamela too had an influential role, in my opinion, with his persistence, and combative skills.
Dele Alli got a booking and was replaced by Carroll as a precaution, but by this time, the sting had very much been taken out of the "Saints" tail, as Spurs took control and closed the game.
After a nice passing sequence, Carroll fed the ball to Eriksen, whose shot from distance was held by the keeper. Good work by Lamela on the right gave Carroll an opportunity, but his shot was relatively weak and comfortable for Gazzaniga.
Hugo Lloris won big cheers from the travelling support for a great added time save, diving low to his left to save from James Ward-Prowse.
Harry Kane took a knock when making a challenge near the end of the game, and was replaced by Son, but Kane looked okay as he left the pitch. He and the team have a full week to prepare for the Boxing Day encounter with Norwich, who conquered Man Utd at Old Trafford today.
One thing is for certain, the rest of this season is not going to be boring! I personally hope for a messy draw on Monday night when Man City visit The Emirates!
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