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Spurs v Southampton, 23.03.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 23RD MARCH, 2014
(1.30 PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1) SOUTHAMPTON 2(2)

Spurs scorers:-
Eriksen, 31, 46
Sigurdsson, 90(+3)

Southampton scorers:-
Rodriguez, 19
Lallana, 28

Attendance:- 35,460

Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- S. Child & P. Kirkup
Fourth official:- Mr. M. Jones

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele (sub Sigurdsson, 46), Bentaleb; Lennon (sub Townsend, 72), Chadli, Eriksen; Soldado

Subs not used:- Friedel; Dawson, Fryers; Paulinho; Kane

Booked:- Bentaleb (foul on Ward-Prowse)

Southampton (4-2-3-1):- Boruc; Clyne (sub Chambers, 46), Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Cork, Ward-Prowse; Davis, Lallana (Capt.), Rodriguez (sub Ramirez, 64); Lambert (Sub Gallagher, 90)

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Yoshida, Hooiveld, Reed

Booked:- Lovren ( foul on Soldado), Cork (foul on Chadli)

Sig Sig Sputnik goal wins it for Spurs at the death!

In the first half, it had looked as if Spurs were doing their very best to fail to qualify for even Europa League football, having gifted Southampton a two goal lead. Man of the match Christian Eriksen got one goal back in the first half, before scoring at the very start of the second half, to put us back on level terms. However, it took until the third minute of added time for Spurs to seal what had been an unlikely three points with a great and timely finish by second half substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Once again, despite fielding five players who had not started in Lisbon, Spurs looked lethargic, and certainly far less interested in the ball than did a sharp Southampton side, well organised by Mauricio Pochettino.

It seems that a degree of apathy is affecting the fans too. Southampton did not send a full contingent of fans, but there were plenty of empty Spurs seats too. Maybe some fans chose to stay at home and watch the game on Sky TV.

Both sides set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. For Spurs that meant Dembele playing beside Bentaleb, but also taking on the more attacking role. Chadli started in a central position, with Eriksen on the left, but there was plenty of interchange going on, particularly in the second half.

We had no Adebayor, and no Sandro either. Michael Dawson was fit enough for the bench.

Richie Lambert led the line for Southampton, but he was well supported by Lallana, Rodriguez and Davis. A strategy constantly deployed by Southampton was to send long balls forward, and to test the Spurs defensive line and the offside flag. In fairness, the flag was raised whenever justified and required. As has been noticeable under Sherwood's leadership, both full backs are committed to assist the attack, and too often get caught out by quick counter attacks. I fear too that Younes Kaboul does not have the degree of pace and match fitness that is desirable.

There had been early nerves by Spurs at the back before we did win a corner after two minutes, headed by Kaboul to the Southampton keeper. Lambert was the recipient of an excellent ball into the penalty area, but took far too long to set himself up for either a shot or a pass. Eventually, he fed the ball back to Lallana, who fired over. Lambert's play here was not that of an England International, I would suggest.

Chadli had a great opening down the left channel after 13 minutes, but hit his cross missed two advancing Spurs players - Lennon and Soldado.

That long ball worked a treat for "Saints" as Kyle Naughton mis-judged the bounce of the ball, allowing Rodriguez to advance upon Lloris's goal with freedom. Rodriguez planted the ball accurately inside the post to the left of Lloris in front of the Paxton Stand.

Southampton were looking sharper than Spurs, closing us down in all areas, and passing with more accuracy, and incisiveness. Another England hopeful, left back Luke Shaw had a shot on goal, which was deflected for a corner.

Things got worse for Spurs, and it was another Naughton error, gifting the ball to Lambert, who was able to tee up his Captain, Lallana for an easy finish and a 2-0 lead.

Bentaleb had a pop at goal for Spurs, hitting a left footed shot just wide from a good 25 yards past Boruc's left post. Then Eriksen got a goal back for Spurs, and it was another defensive error that gifted the goal. This time, after a cross from the right, Boruc and Clyne had a mix-up going for the ball, which simply fell for Eriksen, who gleefully swept home.

Lloris made a great save from quite close range after Lallana hit a right footed shot low, after Southampton had worked the ball in from the left.

Eriksen had another chance and it came after a nice touch from the hard-working Soldado, after a cross from the right. Eriksen's near post shot was smothered by the keeper. Two minutes before the break, after a foul on Danny Rose, and a free kick by Eriksen, Boruc tipped over to concede a corner.

At the break, both sides inserted their number 22s. Sigurdsson replaced Dembele, whilst Clyne was replaced by Chambers. In no time at all, Spurs were on level terms, with a goal scored at the best possible moment, soon after the re-start. Soldado was involved in a battle with Lovren, which he won, crossing from the right near the corner flag. The ball reached Eriksen, who finished with glee. Lovren protested to the assistant referee, and the referee Mr. Taylor, but to no avail. Presumably, Lovren felt that he had been fouled by Soldado in the build-up, but throughout the game, Soldado had been taking plenty of stick, with no sympathy from the referee.

Spurs were certainly playing with more energy now. Sherwood had spent most of the first half "upstairs", but appeared during that period to urge the players on personally. His half-time talk seemed to have some effect.

Spurs had a great move from the back after 55 minutes. Soldado chested the ball to Eriksen, who sent Chadli away down the inside right channel, Chadli headed for goal, hitting a shot which was well saved by Boruc, at the cost of a corner.

Two minutes later, Sigurdsson started a good move, feeding the ball to Lennon, who subsequently returned the ball to Sigurdsson who had made a good run to get ahead of the play. Sigurdsson found Eriksen, who hit a shot into the side netting from the right side.

After plenty of needle, Lovren finally got a yellow card for a foul on Soldado.

With 68 minutes gone, Kaboul sent a great ball to Eriksen, who was just blocked as he pulled the trigger, winning a corner.

Lennon was replaced by Townsend, who showed plenty of endeavour, but I'm not sure he was any more effective in getting the ball into the box. Danny Rose was having an excellent half, and won a tackle near the half-way line, getting the ball to Chadli, who sent Eriksen away down the left. Eriksen's ball into the middle was just too far in front of Soldado.

Lloris hit a long free kick after 83 minutes, which was headed on by Chadli. Soldado tried a right foot shot from a full 25 yards, which passed wide.

Lambert had a great chance towards the end, hitting his shot wide past the left post, before he was replaced by Sam Gallagher.

Southampton had forged one or two other opportunities in the Spurs area, but Spurs marshalled their defensive forces well in this half. There were four minutes of added time, and in the third of these, following a move down the left side, Eriksen fed the ball to Sigurdsson, who beat the Southampton's keeper's right hand with a great low right footed shot.

It's the best way to win a game, and the worst way to lose. Spurs thus scored three goals for the sixth time under Sherwood, two of which have been in 3-2 wins over Southampton. We have regained fifth place, perhaps only for a few days, with Everton playing catch-up in midweek.

I wore my lucky tweed cap today, and I'll be sure to take it to Anfield next Sunday!

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