FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (3) SOUTHAMPTON 1 (0)
Defoe 8, 27, 61
Referee:- Mr. P. Dowd
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, King (Capt.), Gardner, Atouba; Ricketts (sub Mendes, 65), Brown, Carrick, Ziegler (sub Keane, 82); Kanoute, Defoe
Subs not used:- Fulop; Davenport; Redknapp
Southampton (4-4-2/3-5-2):- Niemi; Dodd (sub Folly, 54), Lundekvam, Kenton, Higginbotham; Nilsson (sub Jakobsson, 46), Prutton, Telfer, Svensson; Crouch, Phillips (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Smith; Fernandes; Beattie
Booked:- Lundekvam, Prutton
Saints' new manager had to watch three of his former players give his side a master class in Premiership football (along with the other 8 Spurs players), as Spurs continued their winning run with a dazzling performance to send their fans home in early festive spirits. Jermain Defoe will take the man of the match plaudits for his first hat-trick for the team, but his strike partner Kanoute had everything to do with the win, whilst Michael Carrick gave us surely his best performance to date in the Spurs colours. Michael Brown was the perfect foil for Carrick, as Brown provided the grit and determination, winning many midfield battles, whilst Carrick provided the artistry we know he has in him.
Yes, it was a disappointing Southampton side, who failed to include the four "players to watch" selected in the programme by Erik Edman (himself missing). These were the likes of Beattie, Fernandes and Jakobsson, all of whom were on the bench, and Graham Le Saux, simply not selected. Add to those, the suspended Rory Delap, and injured players such as Pahars and Michael Svensson, and it is not hard to see why Saints' season has been so dismal to date.
Spurs have absentees too, with neither Naybet or Edman making the 16, and Pedro Mendes and Robbie Keane left on the bench till the latter stages when the game was secure. Martin Jol has the luxury of doing a little squad rotation this Christmas! Pamarot returned at right back, and Anthony Gardner gave us an un-ruffled show next to skipper Ledley King, playing right side of the two centre backs for a change. Thimothee Atouba entertained us again at left back, and I mean entertained, as once again he played some tricks with the ball to round threatening attackers. Of the two wing-men, Reto Ziegler got more involved, and he would often occupy the inside left channel to accommodate Atouba's regular forays forward.
Antti Niemi was kept a very busy man all afternoon, as Spurs might easily have scored at least three more goals had he not been in sharp form. Kanoute was excellent, winning many aerial balls, holding it up well, making runs down the right, and playing a few clever tricks of his own.
Spurs got the early goal they have craved all season, in the eighth minute, and credit was due to Carrick, who started the move from defence, with some fine ball play. Kanoute was sent on a run down the right, getting to the bye-line, whilst Defoe pulled back a few yards, allowing Fredi to pick him out with a pulled back cross. Jermain rifled the ball high into the net for a super start for Spurs. In the 18th minute, Spurs were camped in the Saints' half, with options. Kanoute, on the left, cut the ball back to Carrick, whose right footed shot was held low down by Niemi.
The visitors were trying to play in patterns and making some ground, but it was only due to a little hesitancy by Atouba after 24 minutes that Nilsson got the ball deep on the right, sending a cross way over the area, and out of danger. Just before they increased their lead, Spurs had a good move featuring Kanoute, Brown and Defoe. Fredi had made another good run, passed to Brown whose ball over the defence was nearly converted by Defoe, bringing another save from the keeper. Niemi could only pick the ball out of the net a minute later, as Telfer challenged Kanoute, but put the ball backwards into Defoe's path, beating the keeper with a cool right foot finish to the far side of goal. The game was beginning to look secure.
Saints were not giving up yet though, and Phillips tested Robinson with a free kick pushed round the corner. It's fair to say that Carrick was bossing the midfield, with his finesse, and one move started when he spread the play to the right, leading to a rising long range effort from Ricketts, that went over the bar by a couple of yards. Niemi made a great save from Kanoute's shot , before Telfer was given too much space and allowed a shot that went wide.
Saints' defence was proving to be quite incompetent and Defoe got behind them again after 40 minutes, forcing another save after Atouba's ball. A great ball from Carrick to Atouba led to a good headed chance for Pamarot in the middle of the area, which went over the target. Carrick was the provider for the third goal a minute before the break, as he chipped the defence, and Kanoute beat any potential offside flag, beating Niemi with a right foot finish low down. Saints had their best chance of the half, as Pamarot was caught out by Prutton 35 yards out. Prutton's ball inside was hit by Crouch in a reaction shot, that Robinson did well to save on the stretch to the right.
The visitors replaced Nilsson with defender Jakobsson at the interval, and Harry Redknapp decided to try a 3-5-2 with Jakobsson, Ludekvam and Kenton across the back, and Higginbotham and Dodd playing as wing-backs. In no time, Prutton got forward on the right and put a low ball in that was hooked into the air, and headed home by Crouch, when Spurs should have cleared. A few groans went up from the crowd, who must have feared a second-half collapse. Though they took a while to re-impose themselves, it was not too long before Spurs were out of sight again. Atouba's free kick was headed out to Brown, who snatched a first time shot, saved by the keeper, and in the 61st minute, Defoe was the beneficiary, when Brown picked up Lundekvam's poorly judged over head clearance. Brown's volley deserved a goal really, and Niemi could only parry the shot which Defoe happily swept in for his hat-trick goal.
Spurs had thoroughly regained their confidence again, as wave after wave came crashing towards Niemi's goal. Kanoute and Ziegler were the final pieces in the jigsaw of another move out of defence, which left Defoe close to goal again. He rounded a defender, but shot outside the net. Robinson made a good save from Phillips' shot on the right, before Spurs built again through Mendes, Kanoute and Defoe, before Mendes fired wide. The elusive midfield goal that Martin Jol desires is still not forthcoming. A midfielder has not scored a league goal for Spurs since Atouba's goal at Newcastle in August.
Robbie Keane had a great chance in front of goal, after a Mendes pass, but then he did score with two minutes to go, after an audacious chip over the defence by Defoe, which Keane raced to and fired low past Niemi with a first time finish. Kanoute had one more opportunity, but the whistle prevented any more slaughter with the score at 5-1. Spurs scored 5 at home against Wolves this time last year, but you have to go back a long way to find their last 5-1 league win. Suddenly we find ourselves in 7th place, and with the potential to increase our four match winning run next week.
Happy Christmas Spurs fans!
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