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Southampton v Spurs, 18.03.23

Many thanks to Declan Mulcahy for his report.

Saturday 18 March 2023, 3:00pm
Premier League
Southampton (0) 3 Tottenham Hotspur (1) 3

Southampton scorers:-
Adams, 46
Walcott, 77
Ward-Prowse, 90+3(p)

Spurs scorers:-
Porro, 45+1
Kane, 66
Perisic 74

Southampton (4-4-2): Ruben Selles
31 G Bazunu; 2 K Walker-Peters, 35 J Bednarek (3 A Maitland-Niles 34), 37 A Bella-Kotchap (22 M Salisu 7), 15 R Perraud; 17 S Armstrong (26 C Alcaraza 70), 8 J Ward-Prowse (c), 45 R Lavia, 24 M Elyounoussi (20 K Sulemana 70); 32 T Walcott, 10 C Adams (18 S Mara 70)

Subs not used: 1 A McCarthy, 27 I Diallo, 9 A Armstrong, 12 P Onuachu

Booked: Sulemana (87 dissent)

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-2-1):
20 F Forster; 17 C Romero, 15 E Dier, 34 C Lenglet; 23 P Porro (12 Emerson Royal 86), 4 O Skipp, 5 P-E HÝjbjerg, 33 B Davies (14 I Perisic 37); 9 Richarlison ((21 D Kulusevski 5) (29 P Sarr 86)), 7 H-M Son, 10 H Kane (c)

Subs not used: 40 B Austin, 6 D SŠnchez, 25J Tanganga, 16 A Danjuma, 27 Lucas Moura

Booked: Skipp (85 foul on Lavia)

St. Mary's Stadium, Attendance: 30,157

Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: John Busby
VAR: Tony Harrington
Assistant VAR: Simon Long

Consistently Inconsistent

Southampton - 18.03.23

Thanks to Andy Park for this picture

There will be two perspectives on todayís match. For Southampton supporters and neutrals the second half provided end-to-end football and an exciting finish. For Spurs supporters it was an exercise in frustration. Spurs led 1-0 at the interval and 3-1 after 74 minutes.

However they couldnít hold on against a Southampton side who prop up the table. A team who before today had scored only twenty goals in twenty-eight league matches their lowest ever total at this stage of the season, managed to score three goals today and deserved the point they gained.

Spurs were unchanged from the team which won 3-1 at home to Nottingham Forest last weekend. Southampton made three changes from the team which lost 2-0 at home to Brentford in midweek with Stuart Armstrong, Lavia and Walcott replacing Sulemana, Alcaraz and Diallo.

The first forty-five minutes was a strange affair with four major injuries, two for each team, requiring players to be replaced.

Richarlison was the first. Apparently he had had a problem in the warm-up. After only three minutes he went down. He was helped off in tears and replaced by Kulusevski. Minutes later Bella-Kotchap suffered a shoulder injury after contesting the ball with Davies. He too had to be replaced by Salisu.

Midway through the half Bednarek injured his ribs. He was treated, came back on, but almost immediately went back down. Maitland-Niles came on to replace him and the Saints had now replaced both of their starting central defenders in a little over the first half hour. The next player hurt was Ben Davies with what looked like a hamstring problem and Perisic came on in his place. It was only the second time since the inception of the Premier League that both teams made two substitutions before the interval.

There wasnít a lot of exciting football during this period. Son twice and Kulusevski had set Porro up in the opposing box but his efforts had been off target. Dier met a Kulusevski corner but his header went wide.

Seven minutes were added on at the end of the first half because of the injuries and finally the game burst into life. Son crossed the ball from the left and found Porro totally unmarked. He made no mistake this time and scored with a shot, his first Spurs goal.

Neither team made any changes at the interval which created an interesting tactical situation. Both teams still had three unused substitutes but only one substitution window each in which they could be used.

Southampton started the second half with a bang. They launched an attack down the right. Walcott crossed from the right. Adams found space in front of the Spurs defenders and scored easily with a shot just 45 seconds after the half had begun. It was poor defending by Spurs who should have been able prevent the goal.

Hojbjerg then handled the ball close to the edge of the box. Ward-Prowse, Southamptonís dead-ball specialist, stepped up but his effort was deflected over.

Perisic had an attempt on goal blocked. VAR did look at the incident for a potential hand ball but didnít award a penalty possibly because the defender was too close to the ball.

Southampton had the better of the better of the first 15 minutes of the second half. It was somewhat against the run of play when Spurs took the lead again. Kulusevski crossed the ball from the right and Kane rose unchallenged to direct a header towards the far corner of the net. There had been 25 shots so far in the game and the only three on target had all resulted in goals. This was Kaneís ninth headed goal of the Premier League season. He now shares the record for the most goals scored from headers in a season with Duncan Ferguson who also scored nine during the 1997-98 season.

With around 20 minutes remaining Southampton made a triple substitution with Mara, Sulemana and Alcaraz replacing the goalscorer Adams, Elyounoussi and Armstrong. Within minutes it looked as though Spurs had taken a significant step forward. Kulusevski crossed the ball into the box. Romero was causing some chaos in the penalty area and the ball was deflected out again in the air. Perisic scored with a volley which bounced off the ground before entering the net. Spurs now led by a two-goal margin with sixteen minutes remaining.

The Southampton substitutes began to influence the game. Maitland-Niles took a shot from outside the box which was tipped over by Forster who launched himself to make the save.

Then Ward Prowse crossed from the left. Mara nodded the ball down and Walcott scored with a close-range shot. Again it was poor defending and the opportunity should have been contained. It was somewhat ironic that the former Arsenal player hadnít scored in his last 40 matches stretching back to May 2021.

With the score-line now 3-2 Spurs looked more uncomfortable. Mara had a shot which Forster saved. With four minutes remaining Conte elected to use two of his three remaining substitutes with Emerson Royal and Sarr replacing Porro and Kulusevski. The latter didnít start or finish the game.

Southampton looked the more likely to score a further goal but the clock reached 90 minutes without a change. Southampton were awarded a corner on the right. It looked like the ball had been cleared but it then became clear that VAR was investigating a potential penalty. The replays showed a coming-together between Sarr and Maitland-Niles which looked fairly innocuous. However VAR indicated that it was a penalty without asking referee Hooper to look at the pitch-side monitor.

Ward-Prowse stepped up to face his former team-mate Forster. He had taken two penalties so far in the Premier League this season missing both but on one occasion he scored from the rebound. He did however have a good scoring record against Spurs and duly dispatched the penalty to the great joy of his team-mates and the spectators.

Spurs have now conceded 14 away goals in the Premier League since the World Cup break, more than any other team.

Spurs did have a final opportunity in the dying moments when Perisic crossed but Lengletís header went wide.

Southampton deserved the result based on their second half performance. They showed character in coming from two goals behind. A former former Arsenal player Walcott and a loanee from the same club Maitland-Niles each played a significant role in one of those two goals.

It wasnít all negative. Spurs scored three goals and two players Porro and Perisic scored their first goals for the club. However by conceding two late goals to the bottom placed club there was no joy in the result.

Spurs Champions League qualification aspiration donít look good as Newcastle won today and are only two points behind with two games in hand. There are eight teams at the moment involved in a relegation struggle. These are the teams that need to be beaten to have a reasonable chance of qualifying for the Champions League. In the away fixtures against these teams Spurs have beaten two Forest and Bournemouth. However in four other matches, three of them recently, Spurs have dropped ten out of twelve points losing to Leicester and Wolves and drawing against West Ham and Southampton, despite scoring the first goal in three of the four games. Another five or more points from these games would have put Spurs on track for Champions League qualification.

Antonio Conte was quite outspoken in his comments after the game. "The players have to take the responsibility. I see a lot of selfish players and I don't see a team. Ö Tottenham's story is this. 20 years there is the owner and they never won something. Why?"

It remains to be seen if there are any repercussions following his comments. There is an international break over the next two weeks so the club has time to reflect on whether any action is required.

The next match is in two weeks hence away to another one of those bottom eight teams, Everton. No matter who is in charge there needs to be a much-improved performance and result.

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