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John Ellis's "third eye" report on Spurs v Southampton, 26.12.17

John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our 5-2 home win against Southampton.

John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-

Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Southampton

Tottenham’s hat trick hot Spur Harry Kane does it again!

Given the Boxing Day transport difficulties, a surprisingly good crowd of 55,412 turned out for a lunch-time kick off. In the lead up to the game, the pre-match chatter in the pubs and across the media centred on Harry Kane. It is easy to forget how far Harry has come when we wondered not whether Tottenham could score one or two goals but whether Harry Kane could score one or two goals!

Spurs started the game well and as at Burnley with a good tempo. Son fired across goal, Forster parried to Aurier whose goal bound shot was blocked. Eriksen fed Aurier who crossed for Kane with the ball hitting the outside of the post. Some fans in the “West Stand” saw the net rustle and a stifled cheer went up. Two in quick succession as a goal had also been ruled out for offside.

Hopefully the players would be more attentive than the fans during the course of the afternoon who were shaking off their Christmas Day excesses! The chances continued to be created and a beautiful Sanchez chipped pass put Dele in to side foot volley over. A buccaneering run from Rose who cut inside the full back was brought to an abrupt end just outside the box. The run was reminiscent of the runs we came to expect of Rose at the Lane. It’s been a journey but hopefully he is approaching full fitness.

The well earned 22nd minute free kick was launched with laser-guided precision by Eriksen straight on to the head of Harry Kane who with one powerful nod of his head re-wrote the Premier League history books. Kane had scored his 37th Premier League goal in a calendar year - beating Alan Shearer’s 22 year record and in six fewer games.

Within a minute, Southampton broke down the left and in keeping with the festive season, the Spurs defence put on an impromptu pantomime show. Lloris pushed out the cross, Rose jumped and headed it back towards and over Lloris who just about stopped a farcical equalising own goal by pushing the ball onto a post and finally fumbled it away to safety. My word, it would have been an embarrassing goal.

Southampton were playing well though and posing many questions of their own but equally Spurs were looking a real goal threat. This was typified by a lovely pass from Dembele to release Eriksen to fire across goal and just wide of the far post.

Dembele was looking strong in midfield. Aurier and Rose were attacking with width down the flanks. Eriksen was finding lots of space and Dele conjuring holes and pockets of space within the Southampton back lines. Dier also got in on the act showing great skill at close quarters in dinking the ball over a player and running around him to lay off to a team mate.

In the 38th minute Dele released to Son who played an inch perfect pass across the box for the “tenth best player” in the world to become the top European goal scorer in the year. Beating Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Lewandowski et al and in fewer games than all of them. Imagine how many Harry would score if he could avoid a couple of injuries in a year, play in the domestic cups and learn how to score in August!

A few minutes later Kane was taking his game to a new level with a ridiculously sublime Hoddlesque perfectly weighted curled and angled pass in to the path of Son to run on to but sadly a defender closed Son off from what would have been a wonderful goal. Kevin De Bruyne eat your heart out.

The half time talk on the Wembley concourses had moved on to whether the bookmakers would even be offering a price for a Kane eighth hat trick of a glorious year.

A minute after the restart Dier (with his hand wrapped in a bandage) sloppily put Long through for Lloris to save. Southampton were showing they weren’t just here to make up the numbers and a couple of minutes later a rasping shot from Lemina smacked the top of the Spurs bar.

In the 49th minute the game was surely over as a contest. Dele brought down a high ball, interchanged with Son before releasing a fabulously precise shot low into the far corner. A couple of minutes later Dele broke through the middle, intelligently waited for Son to sprint ahead of him before playing a perfect pass for Son to bury Spurs fourth. Whilst Kane will undoubtedly be the headline writer, Son’s contribution of two assists and a goal lit up the game as brightly as his infectious beaming smile.

Dembele sadly went off injured in the 54th minute. Oh to have a fit Mousa. We do however have a fit Moussa in the athletic frame of Sissoko who came on as his replacement. The game was very open with Southampton continuing to create their own chances. This time Romeu brought a save from Lloris.

In the 56th minute a peach of a cross-field pass from Rose just over the head of a Southampton defender was met full on the volley by Kane which would have been the coup de grace but just went agonisingly wide.

Sissoko then had a fine interchange down the right but the cross was over hit. Spurs were now playing exhibition football with one touch football of the highest order. Southampton continued to show enterprise though and their persistence finally paid off in the 64th minute with Boufal scoring a well deserved but perhaps fortuitous goal where Lloris could perhaps have done better.

Another defence-splitting pass from Dele put Kane through on the left. Kane warded off the defender which caused a momentary delay and just when it seemed the chance had gone, he delightfully chipped the keeper for his second successive and eighth hat-trick of this incredible year. What a player and also what a wonderful humble man. Kane is fast becoming a legend within his own playing career. Equally wonderful was the celebration with Son on one knee cleaning Kane’s boots!

Southampton refused to give up and brought another diving save from Lloris. In the 73rd minute, Southampton broke down the left and just when it seemed a second goal was a certainty Jan flew in as Superman would to clear the danger. The game was a feast of entertainment. This time, Sissoko went on a powerful run down the left and found Kane who for once was tackled. Next up it was Danny Rose breaking down the left. He tried to chip the ball inside the full back but ran it out of play. For the first time in a long time, Rose looked happy to be out there and the crowd, pardon the pun, rose to sing his name. Welcome home Danny!

Spurs players were seemingly taking it in turns to break forward with Lamela now carrying the ball forward and passing to Dele who with many options held on too long and the chance was lost. In the 81st minute, another excellent effort by Southampton brought a wondrous flying finger-tip save from Lloris. It was however to no avail as from the corner Lloris punched to the edge of the box for Tadic to shoot. Lloris pawed at the ball but didn’t quite get enough on it to stop Southampton’s second goal floating into the net.

I have seen less end to end basketball games. Spurs attacked again through Lamela to Dele, back to Lamela who should have hit the target but put it over. Dele went off to a standing ovation having scored one and created two. Dele is back!

Even in the 90th minute the entertainment continued with chances fashioned at both ends. With Southampton trying to take the game to Spurs and seeing Spurs respond in such rampant mood, I can understand why opposing teams often come with spoiling, shut up shop tactics. The teams which have tried to take the game to Spurs, be it Dortmund, Real Madrid, Liverpool or Southampton have all been ripped apart.

The final whistle brought the curtain down on a very enjoyable match to close the year for Tottenham Hotspur. 2017 is the year in which Spurs truly nailed the Wembley hoodoo.

Seldom in our illustrious history can a new year have heralded such cause for optimism and excitement as does 2018. With a Champions League last 16 tie versus Juventus to look forward to alongside hopefully a tilt at the FA Cup, the challenge for a place in the higher echelons of the Premier League, the continued development of this talented young team under the astute leadership of an impressive young manager but above all the move to our sensational 61,500 new stadium!

Bring on 2018 #COYS

Happy New Year!

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El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime

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El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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