A Southampton quickfire double threatens Spurs’ top-four hopes

Saturday 9th March 2019  Southampton 2-1 Tottenham

Our top four hopes suffered a blow at Saint Mary’s today, as two quickfire goals from a dogged Southampton team cancelled out Harry Kane’s first half opener, condemning the boys to yet another away defeat.

It was a result that hardly looked possible in the first half, as we carved out a string of chances which saw us hit the post twice before Kane’s opener.

However it was James Ward-Prowse who proved to be the hero on the day, curling home a sensational free-kick from 25 yards to undo all of our hard work from the first half.

The winner came just five minutes after a somewhat surprising equaliser for the home side, who had our defence to thank after some sloppy defending from Danny Rose allowed Yan Valery to turn the ball home.

The result leaves us just three points above Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and within catching distance of London rivals Chelsea, who have two games in hand themselves.

A tale of two halves

The first half saw a dominant Spurs in full control of the game, showcasing quick interplay and attractive one and two touch football. Southampton were hardly given a sniff as our attacking players played off each other in devastating fashion, in a performance typical of what we have come to expect of Poch’s Spurs team.

Southampton‘s three-man defence found it difficult to contain Spurs, and we hit the woodwork twice in as many minutes with a cross rebounding off Maya Yoshida and a curling Eriksen free-kick coming agonisingly close. It wasn’t long before Harry Kane marked his 200th career goal, neatly finishing an outstanding through-ball from Dele Alli into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

But we were soon made to rue those missed chances, as Southampton emerged from the half-time break with renewed vigour. As the second half drew on an equaliser began to look more and more likely, yet Spurs’ goalkeeper Hugo Lloris actually had very little to do before picking the ball out of his own net after Valery capitalised on Rose’s mistake.

And, with manager Mauricio Pochettino looking on from the stands following his touchline ban, things soon went from bad to worse. Any team in the Premier League will know not to give the James Ward-Prowse a chance from a dead-ball situation, and we soon found out why, with the diminutive Southampton man expertly curling the ball home from 25 yards.

Despite huffing and puffing for the final ten minutes of the game, it’s fair to say that the late free-kick had knocked the stuffing out of Spurs, with the boys struggling to get back into the rhythm which had seen them take the lead in the first half.

Poch’s Verdict

“We didn’t respect too much the opponent, and in football first of all you must first respect, then fight, then play football and show your better quality than the opponent.

“I am a little bit worried about this change from the first half to the second half – it’s only one thing, it’s mental. It’s about complacency, it’s about arrogance in a bad way.

“You can use the first half as an example of [positive] arrogance, playing with intention, focus, concentration, we matched them in everything and we were much better. And in the second half it’s the arrogance in a bad way. We need to blame all of us, the club.”

Southampton v Spurs Man of the Match

Man of the Match was Josh Sims – the young midfielder was brought on at half-time to provide a spark for Southampton and did just that, popping up between the lines and tormenting the Spurs defence before winning the free-kick from which Ward-Prowse scored the winner.

This is definitely one to put behind us, and Poch and the boys will be hoping for more performances like the first half here, if we’re to hold on to our place in the top four.

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