|DATE||Saturday 4th May 2013|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Southampton arrive at White Hart Lane with Tottenham needing to win
all of their remaining fixtures to qualify for the Champions League.
Last week's draw at Wigan Athletic dented Spurs hopes of moving back
into the top four, even with Arsenal dropping two points against
Manchester United. So, not the equation is simple. We
have to match or out-so Arsenal's results and beat Chelsea before
doing the same against their results.
Personally, I am not sure we will be able to do it. We will slip up somewhere along the way and a win at Stamford Bridge has been coming for a while, but you can bet it won't be this year.
Southampton are safe for another Premier League season, but with two player sent off in last week's match at West Bromwich Albion, they will be under strength, but not to be under-estimated. While manager Mauricio Pochettino's appointment was a controversial one, with previous incumbent Nigel Adkins taking them up twice before being ousted, his ideas have produced a more fluent style of play, with Gaston Ramirez at the heart of it. However, he was one of the payers sent off, with Danny Fox being the other, leaving the Saints not looking so saintly after all.
Southampton have made the translation to the Premier League reasonably easily, although they have had a couple of heavy defeats, but then have beaten Chelsea and Manchester City - both at St. Marys. Away from home, they are not so assured and leak goals a little more readily. It will be interesting to see how the new manager approaches this match.
Rickie Lambert has been the hammer used to crack the nut of opposition defences this season. While he is a big old unit, he has a deft touch when it comes to goal-scoring sometimes. While he is fearsome in the air, he knows where to be when the ball comes into the box. Jay Rodriguez has taken a while to settle in the top flight with Southampton, even though he had some experience there with Burnley, but he has started to score a bit more frequently. Jason Puncheon and Guly Do Prado are other options, with both being strong and positive runners with the ball, but sometimes, their decision making with the pass let's the build-up play down.
At the back, Artur Boruc was facing an enquiry after a row with Saints fans following our win there earlier in the season, but he has taken control of the gloves and is the regular keeper. Somewhat rash in his decision making, he might find the quick feet of our forwards a handful, if he rushes out from goal. A decent shot stopper, he can be suspect on crosses and Spurs will need to make sure that at the end of the game, he knows he has been in a match.
Without the talented Luke Shaw, Southampton might line up with Nathan Clyne, Yoshida, Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte. The Japanese Maya Yoshida looks like he is a bit bewildered by it all sometimes and it recalls the spell that Toda had with Spurs. While the Southampton man has made a bit more of a fist of it, I am not sure he will be a long-term prospect at St. Marys' Nathan Clyne, on the other hand, has a big future and turned down bigger clubs to move South from Crystal Palace last summer and he has had a fine season. Quick in defence and attack, he has been one of the stars for the Saints. Hooiveld came down from Celtic and has been a reliable central defender, but he has had some nightmare matches this season. Positionally, he loses his man on occasion and can be dragged out of areas he should be filling. Fonte is amore physical, header of the football of a centre half, but eh can be effective at the other end of the park at set-pieces and needs to be marked better than we have been recently (c.f. Emmerson Boyce). Vegard Forren is unused as yet, but he may be thrown into the mix now that safety has been assured and the Norwegian could show us why Liverpool were interested in him.
In midfield, Southampton have a number of ball playing creators, who have had to develop a defensive mind-set to help out the back four. Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, Steve Davis and Adam Lallana have made up the midfield four recently, with Emmanuel Mayuka often entering play from the bench. Schneiderlin is a player catching a lot of clubs' eyes and Arsenal are always mentioned in the same sentence as his name. A good passer, he also can finish well and likes to get forward and that means that Steve Davis has to cover for him when he makes his attacking moves. Davis was at Aston Villa, Fulham and Glasgow Rangers before coming back south and his work-rate has been important to Southampton's survival. Not a stand-out player, but one who's work might be employed to snuff out the threat from Bale or Lennon.
Jack Cork and Adam Lallana are both young midfielders who enjoy passing and scoring, but Lallana has become another prized asset, who has bee linked with a number of clubs, including Spurs. He is a skilful player, who always looks to get forward and Cork has a bit more of a defensive aspect to his game, but the former Chelsea man and son of Wimbledon striker Alan, is good when running with the ball. Mayuka has yet to make much of an impact in the top flight, but came on at the end of the game against Spurs as a sub and looks like he would be happy running past people with the ball.
Tottenham know what is required from them. The players will need to pick up on the devastating seven minutes against Manchester City and stretch that over 90 against Southampton an then replicate it three more times after that. Goals will be vital in this match and with Lambert in the opposition you know he will make the most of any chances he gets and Spurs will need to do the same. With the return of Bale, playing against his old team, there is another tale to be told, but the best one to hear at the end o the match would be about a Tottenham victory.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 3 Southampton 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Emmanuel Adebayor will be fit for this game, but Mousa Dembele is a doubt after pulling a muscle just before half time at Wigan last Saturday. Still not available for consideration are Younes Kaboul (thigh), Sandro (knee) and William Gallas (calf).
SOUTHAMPTON TEAM NEWS :
While Luke Shaw's Ankle injury looks set to sideline him for this match and Richard Chaplow is likely to miss it with the same injury, Joe Ward-Prowse hopes to shake off a knock to play. Gaston Ramirez and Danny Fox were both sent off last Saturday and will be suspended for the visit to White Hart Lane.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
1 (0) Southampton
Saturday 4th May 2013 Kick off 15:30
White Hart Lane
Assou-Ekotto (handball) 71
S. Davis (foul on Defoe) 74
|Crowd : 36,190||Weather : Warm, sunny|
|Referee : Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Ledger; Mr. M. Scholes|
|Fourth Official : Mr. T. Bates||-|
|Southampton kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Southampton :||kit|
Mousa DEMBELE (23
Lewis HOLTBY 35)
Emmanuel ADEBAYOR 59)
18 Jermain DEFOE
Guly DO PRADO (24
Emmanuel MAYUKA 65)
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Mauricio Pochettino|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : aap3|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Umbro|
What was an unconvincing 1-0 win for Spurs keeps their aim of a Champions League finishing position alive, with the defining moment of the season looking more and more likely to be attributable to the rising star that is Gareth Bale. Whether it will be this goal or one of the many others he has scored, I don't know, but Tottenham will be grateful to him for his piece of magic in conjuring up a late winner against his former club on his 200th Spurs appearance ... and maybe hoping he will be able to replicate it on Wednesday, in what could be the Champions League play-off match with Chelsea.
With Spurs midfielder Scott Parker failing a late fitness test after turning an ankle in training ... and it must have been late, with the kick off put back half an hour, because of accidents on the M25, A406 and A10 causing difficulty for many to get to the game on time ... Spurs continued with the line-up that finished at Wigan Athletic. With Gaston Ramirez and Danny Fox dismissed at WBA last week, Southampton also made changes with five strung across midfield and Lambert the lone striker.
With the game finally kicking off, the sun beat down on White Hart Lane and all was set for a perfect afternoon, but as the play went on that looked less and less likely. Working hard and wasting time, Southampton closed Spurs down at every opportunity and forced them into playing backwards, ending up with long balls aimed at Defoe being easily picked off by Fonte and Hooiveld. Play was forced infield by the Saints packed midfield, resulting in Bale and Lennon not seeing much of the ball and the congestion through the centre became just as difficult to break through.
Defoe had an early shot, with a break on the left played into Dempsey, who played a return pass and from a position just wide of the keeper's right hand post, Jermain smacked a shot that rippled the bottom of the side-netting. But five minutes later, Southampton should have taken the lead, when Lambert played the ball beyond the Spurs defence through the right channel and Nathan Clyne ran onto it from 30 yards out, took it unchallenged into the box and with Lloris coming out, shot at goal with his right foot, which took the ball inches beyond the far post. A natural left footer might have been able to get a better shot on goal.
While the visitors hard work was paying of fin terms of not allowing Spurs to play, they had a lot of the ball, but failed to do much with it. Thus, goal-scoring opportunities were at a premium. Much of which was to do with Southampton possessing a forward with a worse first touch than Adebayor in Ricky Lambert. I know he has been a regular scorer for Southampton for a couple of seasons (and with Bristol Rovers before that), but on today's evidence, I fail to see how. His best moment came when Southampton were awarded another free-kick by the seemingly gullible Mark Clattenburg, who was drafted in to 'take control' of this match from the originally listed referee Phil Dowd. Going down softer than a marshmallow, Rodriguez won a foul by Mousa Dembele, but it was the Spurs man who had to leave the field, being replaced by Lewis Holtby in the process. 30 yards out, Lambert drove the ball low and it went under Holtby, who jumped at the end of the wall and Hugo Lloris dived to his left to get a touch on the ball that took it onto the post. When the ball was played back in, Rodriguez had a free header about ten yards out, but put it straight at the Spurs keeper, who clutched it gratefully to his chest.
Bale's injury time header from Huddlestone's corner was off target and surprisingly for the way Tottenham have been playing this season, they failed to get a shot on target in the first half and Boruc was untroubled for most of the first 45 minutes and that perhaps explained his leisurely attitude every time he had a goal-kick to take.
Ronnie Rosenthal's appearance at half-time stirred some memories of better performances against Southampton and the glimpse of wanna-be professional footballers of the Spurs Academy Under-9 side probably put them off for life, when they heard come of the comments raining down on Spurs players during a lack-lustre first half.
As it was, the second half almost opened up like the first, within five minutes, Southampton carved open the defence to create a chance for Lallana. He moved to the edge of the Spurs box, but having got into a good shooting position, his finish was poor and bobbled at Lloris. Five minutes later, Lambert bent a ball in looking for a red shirted head, but it missed everyone and went about a foot wide of the goal on Lloris' left.
Clattenburg had improved the last couple of times he reffed Spurs, but this time, he had a mare. Missing fouls here and there, being inconsistent from one incident to another, being keen to play advantage when there was none and getting in the way of play. If the sign of the referee is not to be noticed, he failed to match that expectation for me today.
Lennon had not been in the game and his retraction brought on Adebayor to partner Defoe up front. Ade actually looked up for it today and closed down defenders well, as well as winning the ball in the air. Gylfi Sigurdsson then came on for Dempsey to compete Tottenham's changes, leaving the eleven on the pitch to try and win it. It almost led to too many Spurs players getting up in attack, with Sigurdsson cutting in from the left (with Bale now out on the right wing) only to reach the D and find Defoe in his way. JD neither made space for him to lay the ball off or got out of his way, but did complaint hat Gylfi didn't give the ball to him.
Bale was getting a little more space as the Southampton player tired from their earlier exertions. He cut into the box and as he was about to shoot, Jack Cork caught his foot as he brought it back, but Clattenburg showed no interest in pointing to the spot ... and neither did he get any more animated when a shot across the goalmouth was claimed to have been handled by a Saints defender.
So, with five minutes remaining it was left to Tottenham's Superstar Welshman to take things into his own hands ... or left foot to be more precise. With the crowd having a go at Kyle Walker for not passing out wide in the right to Bale (mainly because there was not an angle to make the pass), he had a second chance and played in Gareth 20 yards off the dead ball line and wide of the penalty box. Cutting inside Luke Shaw, the next Bale as he is being touted, he kept going across the edge of the area, until he was just reaching the D. At this point, his left foot came back and he guided a powerful low shot that went through a sea of legs and nestled in the bottom corner of Boruc's goal., evading the dive of the keeper in a vain attempt to keep it out. It was another super goal in a super season for Gareth and one which hadn't looked like coming, but players like him may only make one contribution in the game, but it can be a telling one.
It was almost comical at the end, with Boruc now rushing to get the ball and hurry to take a goal-kick every time the ball went out of play. And despite there being four added minutes at the end of what had been a long afternoon, there was little more threat at either end and the game ended with the Spurs fans relieved and the Southampton fans reaching for their calculator to see if they were mathematically safe from relegation. They had been noisy during the game, with nothing really to sing about, other than the fact that they claim Spurs fans had stolen their song, but at the end, they were looking over their shoulders at results from further down the table.
Spurs failed to work hard enough for three quarters of the game to break down Southampton's system of denying them space. Too often the player on the ball had no options to pass to and this led to possession being handed to the opposition and some Spurs players failed to do themselves any favours (with Assou-Ekotto being one ... going missing from his left back slot and allowing Saints the chance to use the space in behind him). But the sign of a good team is winning when you haven't played well and the fact that they kept going to the end, as they have done lately, to ensure that we score late goals is a sign of a winning mentality that is being grown and hopefully gets stringer over the next three games ... then they can employ it in a different arena next season.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Norwich City||1||Aston Villa||2||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||0||Arsenal||1||Saturday|
|Swansea City||0||Manchester City||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||2||Wigan Athletic||3||Saturday|
|West Ham United||0||Newcastle United||0||Saturday|
|8||West Bromwich Albion||35||14||6||15||49||48||48||+1|
|10||West Ham United||36||11||10||15||38||46||43||-8|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||36||4||13||19||29||57||25||-28|
Position before match :
Position after match : 5th
Position after the weekend : 5th
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