SUNDAY 21ST JANUARY, 2018
SOUTHAMPTON 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Sanchez (o.g.), 15
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Harry Lennard, Matthew Wilkes
Fourth official: Graham Scott
Southampton (4-2-3-1):- McCarthy; Soares, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand (Capt.); Romeu, Lemina (sub Davis, 80); Hojberg (sub Boufal, 65), Ward-Prowse, Tadic; Gabbiadini (sub Obafemi, 82)
Subs not used:- Forster; Pied, Bednarek; Redmond
Booked:- Stephens (foul on Kane), Romeu (foul on Dele)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Aurier (sub Trippier, 72), Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Wanyama, 85); Sissoko, Dele, Son (sub Lamela, 70); Kane
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Foyth, Walker-Peters; Llorente
Booked:- Sissoko (foul on Bertrand), Dembele (foul on Bertrand) , Trippier (foul on Boufal)
Maybe sunshine training wasn’t such a good idea, after all
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino took his first team squad to Spain (specifically Barcelona) this week, where they partook of two or three days sunshine training, as they had no midweek commitment. The sum benefit of that appears to be illness contracted by Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen (the latter being kept quiet during the press conference pre-match), and because presumably the team was training on immaculate and smooth pitches (they really did have sunshine), they were ill prepared for a wintry Sunday night on the south coast in cold and blustery rain, having to play on a soggy and spongy pitch. The conditions were the same for both sides of course, but it would appear that Southampton’s predicament (they had dropped into the bottom after Stoke’s win on Saturday) gave them more incentive to win the game, because the home side came out of the blocks with more urgency and not a little penetration, particularly down Spurs’ right flank, where Serge Aurier was too often caught the wrong side of the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Manoio Gabbiadini and Pierre-Emile Hojberg.
In the first half in particular, Michel Vorm was the busiest goalkeeper, and over the course of the game The “Saints” had more shots on target. Mauricio Pellegrino, who now cannot be the eighth Premier League manager to lose his job, because Watford’s Marco Silva has been given the heave-ho, had clearly got his men fired up to try and drag themselves out of the relegation zone. The match was drawn, and the unfortunate Davinson Sanchez even scored the home side’s goal with Harry Kane levelling with his 99th Premier League goal. It was a result that left both teams short. Spurs remain two points adrift of the top four. Southampton remain in the bottom three one point behind Stoke.
As is happening at all this weekend’s Premier League matches, tribute was paid to Cyrille Regis, who sadly died last week at the age of just 59. Apart from being a very handy centre-forward, Regis was renowned as a pioneer for black players in the game. I did have the good fortune to meet Cyrille in recent years, and can vouch for the fact that he was one of the game’s nice guys. Spurs fans sang “Nice one Cyrille!” in his honour.
Southampton kicked off and within the first minute, Vorm had to get down to his left to save from Gabbiadini who had raced onto a long ball from his own half. Not for the last time, Spurs’ defence was caught napping. Son was on the ball in the opposition half and went down under a challenge getting no foul, before another long ball was hit forward and this time Tadic crossed from the left for Gabbiadini, who was unable to get a shot in. Vorm had to race out to beat Hojberg to the ball. Southampton had the next significant attack after 7 minutes with Ward-Prowse trying a shot from a good 25 yards out, but screwing it well wide of the target. It took until the 10th minute before Spurs had a threat of sorts when Eric Dier hit a ball from just inside the “Saints’” half. Dele received with his back to goal, but could not control the ball, and it was cleared. Soon after that Dele at least won a corner with his header from Ben Davies’ cross, but nothing came of the dead ball situation.
Southampton took the lead when Bertrand raced ahead of Tadic for a pass down the left flank, leaving Aurier in his wake. Bertrand hit a low cross which Sanchez unfortunately diverted into his own net from in front of the near post.
Spurs responded firstly with a corner taken from the left eventually reaching Vertonghen, whose shot from the right side of goal was saved. Then, after a corner on the right, won after an Aurier cross was deflected and taken by Davies, Harry Kane headed home from close range.
Southampton came forward with the ball following a failed throw-in move by Spurs on the right. “Saints” also wanted handball in the Spurs area before Lemina fired over. . At the other end, Aurier crossed deep, and Harry Kane passed the ball back to Ben Davies, whose shot was just wide of the far post, as he hit it back across the goalmouth. This may actually have been a cross, which Sissoko tried but failed to turn in. Ward-Prowse put me in mind of a Rugby goal kicker the way he shaped up to take a free kick on the right. It so nearly worked though, as his ball reached Stephens , who had Vorm beaten, but had to watch the ball pass the wrong side of Vorm’s left post.
Spurs attacked down the left after 38 minutes, and Harry Kane fed the ball to Aurier, towards the right of the area. Aurier passed back to Dier, whose shot was safely held by McCarthy. After a poor clearance by Vorm, Southampton responded through Lemina and Ward-Prowse, with the latter having his shot saved. Kane had a half-chance a minute before the break, when Davies crossed again. Harry tried but failed to turn with the ball and shoot.
Spurs needed a good shake-up at half-time and were out for the second half well before the home side. There was a bit of needle throughout the game between the two sides. No doubt the home side were still feeling sore over their 5-2 Boxing Day defeat. Referee Kevin Friend was the enemy of both sets of fans really, as he often failed to give decisions which seemed to be required. The home fans were particularly upset that Dembele didn’t get booked earlier in the game, but he did eventually see yellow for barging Bertrand on one of his attacking runs.
Jan Vertonghen was his usual reliable self, and won an early second half battle for the ball, against Hojberg. Sanchez also made some good defensive interceptions, but there were times when he got a bit close to his attacker conceding silly free kicks. It was a Southampton player – Stephens who got the first card of the game though for cynically halting Kane’s run inside the Southampton half. Dele Alli came in for a lot of attention, but I thought he tried his heart out for the team, perhaps trying to do too much himself at times.
Ward-Prowse had another shot saved by Vorm three minutes into the second half. The cards started to come out for players on both sides, as the game got more and more scrappy. Dele pulled a shot wide after 65 minutes, when Dembele had fed him the ball. Vorm had to dive to his left at the other end to stop a shot by Gabbiadini. Dele pushed a ball out to Davies on the left, whose cross was met by Sissoko and fed to Kane. Kane’s left foot shot was blocked by Stephens for a corner on the right. Two minutes later Dele tried and failed to get a shot in. The ball ran to Dembele who could not manage a shot on target, and Southampton managed to clear under pressure. Vertonghen picked up the ball, on the right and tried a long range shot which passed outside the keeper’s left post.
A series of substitutions followed, which included Lamela for Son and Trippier for Aurier. Trippier soon found himself being shown yellow for a foul on Boufal, who had come on for Hojberg. Spurs were denied a corner after pressure on the right with Sissoko getting the ball to Lamela, whose shot definitely took a Southampton deflection. Mr Friend was having none of it and gave a goal kick. Southampton missed a clear chance at the other end, when Tadic crossed from the right and 17 year old substitute Obafemi failed to make contact with the goal at his mercy.
With full time approaching Lamela did win a corner with a blocked shot, after Sissoko’s pass, and then with Wanyama and Dele involved in the build-up Harry Kane’s shot across goal went wide, but Lamela was at the back post and might have made contact, but did not. That was the last of the chances really for Spurs, and there was no breakthrough for either side in the 5 minutes of added time.
It was an unsatisfactory, but fair result in a game where both sides had chances to win. Mauricio Pochettino has now managed Spurs 8 times against his old club, and lost just one of those games. He would have liked to have done better today.
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