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Southampton v Spurs, 09.03.19

PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 9TH MARCH, 2019
(3pm)
SOUTHAMPTON 2(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)

Southampton scorers:-
Valery, 76
Ward-Prowse, 81

Spurs scorer:-
Kane, 26

Attendance:- 31,890

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Matthew Wilkes, Simon Beck
Fourth official:- Lee Probert

Teams:-
Southampton (3-4-2-1):- Gunn; Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard; Valery, Romeu (sub Long, 46) (sub Armstrong, 73), Hojbjerg (Capt.), Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Austin (sub Sims, 46)

Subs not used:- McCarthy; Stephens, Targett; Slattery

Booked:- Romeu (foul on Lucas Moura), Valery (foul on Rose), Hojbjerg (simulation), Redmond (unsporting conduct)

Spurs (4-3-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker-Peters, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose (sub Davies, 82); Sissoko, Dier, Eriksen; Lucas Moura (sub Son, 72), Kane, Dele (sub Llorente, 82)

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Foyth; Lamela, Wanyama

Booked:- Walker-Peters (foul on Armstrong), Sissoko (unsporting conduct)

Saints alive! Spurs are fading

After the glory of beating Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate to reach the Champions League quarter-final came this third successive away defeat against a side battling relegation, who managed to come back from a first half lead which should have been bigger following Spurs’ domination of that period. We hardly managed a shot on goal in the second half, allowing the “Saints” to take the initiative and come back for what was a vital home win – their first (at home) over Tottenham since 2005. As for Spurs, with those three defeats in the last four games and a home draw against Arsenal, their chances of clinging onto a top four place to qualify for next year’s Champions League are fading badly. Two of those defeats have come against lower league sides. Such form and the risk of no Champions League next season takes the shine off the prospect of at last playing at “New White Hart Lane” next month.

The team news was a little mystifying with Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld absent from the 18-man squad. Perhaps they suffered more than others in Germany in Tuesday night. There was a welcome return for Dele Alli, and Lucas Moura, who was making his first Premier League start since Boxing Day. Eric Dier also returned, making his first league start since even earlier in December. Spurs played with Dier in front of the defence and Sissoko and Eriksen either side of him. Lucas and Dele played either side of and in support of Harry Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino was confined to the stand after his two-match ban imposed by the FA, but I have to report there was no sign of the “We’ve got Perez” chant, although of course the same tune was aired for Dele Alli, whose silky creative skills were a most welcome addition. Lucas Moura was looking sharp too. Harry Kane had an early chance after a headed pass by Dele, but he put a right footed shot wide. Kane then managed to run onto Eriksen’s long ball with the ball actually running off his back and falling in front of him, but the shot was over the target.

Southampton’s defensive midfielder Romeu took an early booking from referee Kevin Friend, and was therefore at risk from the frequent Spurs attacks. After a cross from the left there was some interchange between Eriksen, Kane and Dele Alli with the latter firing wide. After another foul on Lucas, Eriksen took the free kick with a Kane effort blocked and Lucas going down in the box when trying to follow up. No foul was given, and probably not merited. After great battling play by Kane on the right, the striker hit a powerful low cross which Yoshida turned onto his own post. Good work by Eriksen led to a ball to Rose, a cross and an effort by Dier which was well over.

Southampton’s right wing-back Yan Valery, who had scored a cracking goal at old Trafford last week, also saw yellow in the first half for a foul on Dele. Eriksen’s free kick hit the bar. Spurs took a well-deserved lead midway through the first half, after a great pass by Dele left Harry Kane in front of goal, able to score from close range on the right side of the area. Kane has scored in four of the five matches since he returned, but apart from the win in Germany, our results have not matched his form. Harry has also now scored for the fifth successive game against Southampton, but such stats would mean nothing in the end.

Redmond had a run after 29 minutes, but was pushed out to the right by Sanchez. Redmond’s effort from a way out was well high and wide of the target. Lucas Moura crossed for Dele from the right, and Dele’s right foot drive was pushed over his bar by Angus Gunn in the Southampton goal. After another corner won by Dele, taken by Eriksen, the ball eventually fell to the feet of Jan Vertonghen, but his shot was too high. Lucas Moura, Kyle Walker-Peters and Dele combined, before Dele picked out Lucas, whose shot was just cleared by the struggling Southampton defence.

Lucas Moura had done some of the preparatory work in a move which ended with Kane crossing from the right and the ball passing just in front of Lucas. A right footed shot by Eriksen was saved by the upright goalkeeper, perhaps saving somewhat involuntarily with his feet.

We didn’t really have any hint of what was to come in the second half, and Mauricio Pochettino has lambasted his players for the second half performance saying “"It is so difficult to understand why we changed so much from the first half to the second.

"The second half, we did not take it seriously, I don't want to criticise too much but when you lose a game that was under control after 45 minutes - we should be 3-0, 4-0 - and finishes in 2-1 defeat, it is difficult to accept……”

Southampton’s manager Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes at the break, putting Shane Long on for Romeu and 21 year old Josh Sims (just back from a loan at Reading) on for Charlie Austin. Lloris was in action early, holding a shot in the middle of his goal by Sims. Sims and Long were then involved as Sims crossed from the right and Long’s header had to be saved by Lloris and cleared by the Spurs defence.

Spurs did win an early corner after Rose won the ball and passed to Dele, with the Southampton defence clearing the intended ball for Kane. A cross by Ryan Bertrand was then held by Lloris.

Kane received from Eriksen and fired on target with Gunn pushing the ball out for a Spurs corner. The corner was taken on the right, and Vertonghen had another chance; with this one going wide. Long got away from Vertonghen down the right side and crossed to Redmond, who hit the side netting.

Southampton’s skipper Hojbjerg got away from Sanchez but hit his shot over. Perhaps one or two sets of Spurs legs were getting tired after their midweek exertions.

Eriksen hit an easy shot to the Southampton keeper after 62 minutes. Southampton fans were after a penalty when Valery went down but the ball ran to Redmond again, who pulled his shot wide. Eriksen hit a controlled pass to Kane towards the right of goal, but Harry scooped this shot. Now Lucas Moura was replaced by Son, but we didn’t see much of “Sonny” on the ball. Substitute Long was himself replaced by Armstrong. Armstrong had an impact upon the equaliser as his cross from the left was allowed to pass all the way across the Spurs area with Rose the last to fail to clear. Valery was able to hook the ball in from close range with his left foot and the home side’s tails were up, as were those of their fans.

It wasn’t long before “Saints” had the lead. Walker-Peters fouled Armstrong in a central position outside the area. The ball was being crossed from the right, and the home fans were baying for a red card for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity, but I don’t believe the ball had reached the Southampton player. Walker-Peters was shown yellow, and Spurs were punished further when James Ward-Prowse stepped up and beat Lloris with a superb free kick into the keeper’s top right corner. The kick has been described as “Beckhamesque”, and sadly I called the result before he hit the ball. Ward-Prowse has scored 6 goals in recent games, and three in his last three appearances, including another fine free kick.

Rose was replaced by Davies and Llorente came on for Dele, but Spurs were unable to make any headway. Son did feed a ball to Davies, who hit a tame shot at Gunn, but that was about all we could muster. There was a spat between Sissoko and Redmond, with both getting booked for their trouble. Redmond subsequently got the better of Sanchez, but Lloris was equal to his shot. Sissoko had a shot blocked after a Spurs corner, but Southampton were able to celebrate their win like a Cup win, whilst we slunk away.

By the time we play again (at Anfield on 31st March), we will more than likely have been overtaken, and probably will not be one of the favourites to ultimately win another top four place. It is all quite depressing.

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