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Spurs v Bournemouth, 31.12.23

Many thanks to Declan Mulcahy for his detailed report

Sunday 31 December 2023, 2:00pm
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur (1) 3 Bournemouth (0) 1

Spurs scorers:-
Sarr 9,
Son 71,
Richarlison 80

Bournemouth scorer:-
Scott 84

Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3):

13 G Vicario; 23 Pedro Porro, 12 Emerson Royal, 33 B Davies, 38 D Udogie; 29 P Sarr (4 O Skipp 32); 30 R Bentancur (5 P-E Hojbjerg 58); 18 G Lo Celso (15 E Dier 83); 22 B Johnson (11 B Gil 82), 9 Richarlison (36 A Veliz 82), 7 H-M Son (c)

Subs not used: 20 F Forster, 35 A Phillips, 65 A Dorrington, 63 J Donley

Booked: Skipp (56 foul), Emerson Royal (87 foul on Billing), Lo Celso (90+3 confrontation between benches, Lo Celso had already been substituted at this point), Postecoglou (90+3 confrontation between benches)

Note: Veliz was injured and left the pitch after 90+4 minutes. Spurs had already used all of their allowable substitutes and played the remaining seven or so minutes with ten men.

Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Andoni Iraola
1 Neto (c); 15 A Smith (7 D Brooks 82), 27 I Zabarnyi; 25 M Senesi, 11 D Ouattara (37 M Aarons 45); 10 R Christie (14 A Scott 69), 4 L Cook; 16 M Tavernier, 19 J Kluivert (29 P Billing 61), 17 L Sinisterra (24 A Semenyo 61); 9 D Solanke

Subs not used: 42 M Travers, 6 C Mepham, 8 J Rothwell, 21 K Moore Booked: Kluivert (foul on Lo Celso 25), Senesi (foul on Lo Celso 79)

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 61,780

Referee:- Simon Hooper
Assistants:- Adrian Holmes, Simon Long
Fourth Official:- Graham Scott
VAR:- David Coote Assistant VAR:- Natalie Aspinall

A Cherry from the Cherries! Son signs off with key goal as Spurs end 2023 with a win

Spurs v Bournemouth, 31.12.23

Bournemouth came into this match the more in-form team. Since losing 6-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the first week of November they had won six and drawn the other of their last seven Premier League games scoring an impressive 18 goals during that time. Spurs had a chastening experience three days ago against the other south-coast team in Brighton going down 4-0 before adding two goals to make the score respectable.

For the sixteenth time in 20 league games this season Spurs scored the opening goal. As has been the case not infrequently this season having taken the lead Spurs then allowed the other team to come back into the game. For an hour Bournemouth were the team that looked more likely to score. Heung-min Son then contributed a vital goal which tilted the outcome in favour of Spurs. They eventually won 3-1 though it was a harder earned victory than the score-line might suggest.

Rodrigo Bentancur made a surprise return to the Spurs team replacing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. When his name was announced the crowd greeted it with a cheer. The second change from Thursday saw Giovani Lo Celso replace the suspended Dejan Kulusevski.

Bournemouth also made two changes from the team which beat Fulham in midweek Lewis Cook and Luis Sinisterra replacing Alex Scott and Antoine Semenyo both of whom were among the substitutes.

Spurs played towards the north end in the first half as is customary. Both sides played a high pressing game and were committed to attacking so the action was end-to-end for most of the match.

Spurs had a couple of early opportunities. Johnson crossed the ball to Son on the left. His control was poor and his shot was wide. Then Sarr crossed from the left but Lo Celso and Richarlison got in each other's way and the chance was wasted.

Bournemouth had an early scare when Dominic Solanke went down injured. Given that he had scored eight goals in his last seven league appearances, including a hat-trick, his loss would have been significant. However he was able to continue. Soon afterwards Ouattara put in a cross from the left to the Spurs box towards Solanke but Ben Davies did enough to ensure that his shot was not on target.

Spurs then took an early lead. Neto, the Bournemouth goalkeeper and captain, attempted a clearance from his box. It was intercepted by Bentancur and deflected to Lo Celso. He set up Sarr who ran towards the edge of the box of the right and scored with a skilful shot towards the far post. It was Sarr's second goal of the season and one created by the entire Spurs' midfield.

Solanke then appeared to race clear at the edge of the Spurs box but Udogie made a wonderful run to relieve him of the ball. Tavernier had a goal-scoring opportunity but shot wide.

Emerson Royal tried a shot from outside the box but Neto pushed it out for a corner. Soon after following another corner Bentancur had a free header but it was too high.

Midway through the half Senesi rose to head a free kick from the left but his effort was wide. A pass from Richarlison put Son clear on the left but his shot was saved by Neto with his legs. A Bournemouth player sent a dangerous cross through the Spurs box but there was no one there to meet it.

After 30 minutes Sarr went down injured. It appeared to be a hamstring injury and he was assisted off the pitch with his shirt covering his face. It is not clear whether it will affect his availability for the Africa Cup of Nations with the defending champions Senegal. He was replaced by Skipp.

Bournemouth dominated the remainder of the half. A Sinisterra effort following a corner was too high. Tavernier had a shot saved by Vicario. Solanke made another run which could have been dangerous. Again he was chased down by Udogie and Solanke needed treatment following their coming together.

Lo Celso gave away a free kick just outside the box. Tavernier's shot hit Richarlison in the wall and deflected wide.

At this point it started to rain quite heavily and the rain continued for most of the remainder of the match.

Kluivert had a shot which went wide. There were nine minutes of added time before the interval and Spurs were under continued pressure. Bournemouth had a number of opportunities but were let down most times by the final pass. The closest they came was when Solanke had a shot which deflected off Davies onto the bar. A Kluivert shot defected off Porro. Spurs were relieved when the whistle went for the break and they went in 1-0 ahead.

The interval witnessed a special event. Hugo Lloris is on the point of joining Los Angeles in the MLS. This was his opportunity to bid farewell to the Spurs' faithful. He came out onto the pitch to rousing applause to be presented with a memento by Ledley King from the club. He made a very fine response saying β€œIt's time for me to say goodbye but it's goodbye from the player not from the man. I will be a Spurs man for the rest of my life.” Hugo will be remembered as a Spurs legend. He was a fine goalkeeper who made 447 appearances the seventh highest in the club's history. He captained the team for a number of seasons. He is only the second World Cup winning captain who in 2018 did so while playing for an English club team. He won 145 international caps for France the most of any French player at this time.

At the beginning of the second half Bournemouth replaced Ouattara who had been injured in time added on before the interval by Aarons. Bournemouth continued as they left off. Kluivert had an opportunity but Udogie made yet another outstanding interception. Bournemouth had three consecutive corners. Vicario made a good save from a header from one of them.

Six minutes after the break Spurs finally counter-attacked. Son on the left set up Richarlison who had the goal at his mercy but contrived to shoot wide. At the time given the direction of the game it looked as though it could be a costly miss.

Tavernier created an opportunity for Solanke whose effort was narrowly wide.

Bentancur wasn't fully match fit and was replaced just before the hour mark by Hojbjerg. Lo Celso found room to put a cross into the Bournemouth box but there wasn't a Spurs player to connect with it. At the other end there was a mix up between Emerson Royal and Vicario but Porro cleared the ball. Spurs had another chance when the ball was played to Son in the box but he couldn't control it.

Then Lo Celso played a defence splitting pass to Son on the left. He ran into the box and scored with a diagonal shot to the far post. It was a well-taken and pivotal goal which consolidated Spurs lead with 19 minutes remaining. It was his twelfth goal of the season. Shortly after Skipp crossed from the right to Son in the box. The ball then fell to Richarlison whose shot was save by Neto.

However Richarlison wasn't to be denied. A cross by Johnson from the right reached him in the box. He nutmegged goalkeeper Neto to score at the near post. With ten minutes left Spurs were now in a comfortable position.

Postecoglou made a triple substitution with Gil, Veliz and Dier replacing Johnson, Richarlison and Lo Celso.

Four minutes later Tavernier cut the ball back from the left and set up the Bournemouth substitute Alex Scott to score his first Premier League goal. It was probably a bitter-sweet moment for him as he comes from a Spurs supporting family.

Spurs could have increased their lead when following a move involving Gil and Hojbjerg. The ball pin-balled around the Bournemouth box before the former's effort hit the bar. Udogie made a run into the box and went down but the referee wasn't interested.

As time added on commenced Veliz went down injured. The Bournemouth bench seemed to think it was a time-wasting manoeuvre and were upset. There was a confrontation between the two sets of coaching teams. Referee Simon Hooper eventually booked Lo Celso who had been substituted and Ange Postecoglou.

Veliz's injury was genuine and he had to go off. As Spurs had used all of their substitutes at that point they played the remaining approximately seven minutes with ten men. With a couple of minutes left Bournemouth thought they had reduced the deficit when a Scott header found the net. However the Spurs high-line prevailed and Scott was adjudged offside a decision which was confirmed by VAR.

Thus an entertaining match with both sides committed to attacking resulted in a win that Spurs had to work for. It was a fine result to end the year. Son, Udogie, Bentancur, Lo Celso and Sarr all made significant contributions. The main concern was that two players, Sarr and Veliz, suffered what could be significant injuries.

January could be a very challenging month between players away on international duty and others injured. The good news is that there are only two Premier League matches this month Manchester United (away) and Brentford (home) plus at least one FA Cup match. Hopefully players will return from injury and the squad will be supplemented by some new signings.

Ange Postegoglou commented to Sky Sports "We're trying to build something. I'm at pains to keep repeating myself but we're trying to build a team that plays a bit differently and has some resilience and you can only gain that through tough times. Some of that is self-inflicted with suspensions but we've had a lot of injures. We haven't wanted to make excuses and we're still in there and fighting.

Regarding the contretemps between the two benches he commented humorously "We all just came together to wish each a Happy New Year mate and make some resolutions."

Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola told the same source "You have to score goals and they were much better than us in the last third, finishing-wise. I'm really happy with the performance. We played with really strong personality against a top opposition.”

On January 1, 2023 Spurs were in fifth place in the table with 30 points from 17 games an average of 1.77 points per game. December 31, 2023 again finds Spurs in fifth place with 39 points from 20 games a ratio of 1.95 points per game. If Spurs could maintain their current rate they would end the season with 74 points.

Just over the half-way point in the season Spurs are very well positioned. They are in a group of five teams who are six points ahead of the pack competing for the Champions League positions. The new manager has made an outstanding start playing attractive attacking football. While Postecoglou views this as a long-term project which will take time the position the club is in after only half a season is very encouraging. Hopefully it will help in recruiting talented additions to the squad in January 2024.

Tottenham have scored in each of their last 32 Premier League games since a 1-0 defeat at Wolves in March - the longest ongoing streak in the competition. Furthermore, only three sides have gone on a longer such streak in the Premier League (Arsenal 55, Liverpool and Manchester United both 36). This is the third time that Spurs have scored in 32 consecutive league games the other occasions being from April to December 1949 in the second tier and from February to November 1962 in the top flight.

Best wishes for the new year to all Spurs supporters reading this report. Hopefully 2024 will be a good year for the club and its supporters.

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