|OPPONENTS||Southampton at Wembley|
|DATE||Wednesday 5th December 2018|
Spurs face Southampton juts a couple of days after they sacked Mark
Hughes as their manager following three wins in 22 matches in
charge, but there will be insufficient time to bring in the man they
want in charge, so former goalkeeper Kelvin Davis will be in the
caretaker role for Wednesday's match.
It is ironic that Hughes got sacked after his side gained a home draw with Manchester United, but maybe the ignominy of being two goals ahead and being hauled back was too much for the Southampton board. Having battled against relegation last season, Hughes kept the Saints up after taking over late in the season from Pellegrino. That success didn't afford him any breathing space this time round as the hierarchy made an early change to try and avoid the drop once more.
The selections by the recently departed boss had been a little perplexing, with Marco Gabbiadini rarely used, but perhaps an indication of his poor form came last week against Fulham when he missed a simple rebound to score. Charlie Austin has resurfaced in the side lately and they will miss the energy that Danny Ings brings, while Shane Long might be his usual annoying self if he plays, but offers little goal threat.The defence has been shaky, with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy being given plenty to do. Wesley Hoedt is a player who seems to lack positional sense and confidence, while the full backs Bertrand and Soares push forward, but they are not covered if there is a turn over in possession and they face a break. Jack Stephens is a strong young centre half, but sometimes isn't focused on the man he should be marking at set-pieces, with Maya Yoshida also lacking concentration at vital times.
The midfield is the area of Southampton's squad which is perhaps the strongest. Captain Steven Davis is reaching the veteran stage, but he puts in a lot of work, which cant be said of some of his team-mates. Mario Lemina is a very talented player, but sometimes the team carry him and Oriel Romeu battles away, but Mohammed Elyounussi hasn't come to terms with that side of the Premier League yet. James Ward-Prowse has not hit the form he has shown in recent seasons, Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg is starting to show a bit more promise, but nothing like he initially displayed at Bayern Munich and Nathan Redmond is quick, but not popular among the Saints fans for what they consider less than 100% effort.
Spurs should be stung by Sunday's defeat and with changes to the side to bring in fresh legs, they should be better suited to start pressing high up the pitch from the start. Southampton will want to start showing any new manager watching that they are keen to be involved, so will get the new manager bounce, albeit a caretaker one.
While Tottenham's recent
record against Southampton is very impressive, it means nothing with
a new game facing us, so the team will need to be focused on their
game and not let the visitors have any leeway in trying to get
anything form the game. I would like to think Spurs could run
out easy winner sin this one, but I think Southampton will prove
more difficult than of late, as they try to gain points to get
themselves out of the bottom three.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Southampton 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
KIrean Trippier is back in the squad, but Jan Vertongen misses out through suspension. Vincent Janssen, Victor Wanyama and Davinson Sanchez are all out injsured.
SOUTHAMPTON TEAM NEWS :
The Saints have doubts over the availability of Michael Obafemi, Danny Ings, Matt Targett and Ryan Bertrand, while Mario Lemina is suspended for the match.
|Premier League||Kick off 20:00|
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 (1)||
|Crowd : 33,012||Weather : Drizzly rain, mild|
|Referee : Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Gary Beswick ; Mr. Adam Nunn|
|Fourth Official : Paul Tierney|
|Southampton kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + ? minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Southampton :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Kieran TRIPPIER (52
Oliver SKIPP 87)
Moussa SISSOKO 74)
10 Harry KANE
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Caretaker Manager : Kelvin Davis|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Virgin Media|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
Tottenham came out of this game against Southampton, played out in front of just over a third full Wembley, but they escaped a few scares along the way before ending up 3-1 winners to take them back to third place.
With Christmas coming and a lot of game sin December, something had to give and an 8 o'clock kick off in a mid-week match with struggling Southampton was not perhaps the most appetising attraction to pull people out to North-West London. There were more Saints fans than I thought would bother making the trip just having had their manager dismissed and not having a great record this season, but they were noisy as only away fans can; none more so than when they were chanting out the "olÚs" when they managed top put a few passes together ... at 0-1 down !
The assembled few saw Pochettino make changes from Sunday's loss and some players were out of the 18 altogether, but it would be a test of how the team could bounce back. It didn't take too long to answer that. Eric Dier's cross-field diagonal pass found Kieran Trippier's head and the ball dropped in front of Heung-Min Son, whose first time right footed volley rattled out off the keeper's left hand post. That was in the third minute and it looked as though it might be a long night for those in red and black. Trippier was at it again a minute later, sliding a ball low into the near post aiming for Kane after taking Alderweireld's pass, but the keeper got to it first. When Harry Kane was released into the box on the left, it looked as though Southampton's defence might be breached, but he uncharacteristically took a touch on the ball that took it too far away from him and again McCarthy denied him. but it wasn't for much longer, as Lucas won a corner on our left and when it was taken short, but Harry Winks to Christian Eriksen, the Dane played a ball into the near post along the ground and Yoshida was still looking around as Kane stepped in behind him to guide the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0 in the 9th minute. It was a well-worked corner and most unlike us to score from one, but Harry was alert to where the ball was coming in and Southampton were sleeping as the corner was taken quickly.
Spurs continued to press, while Southampton couldn't string a move together, so when Lucas took the ball off Davis inside the centre circle in the Spurs half, he felt it worth trying to catch McCarthy off his line, but unfortunately, his effort didn't have enough elevation on it to make a save difficult for the goalie. Trips was finding space on his flank and that was where many of the Tottenham attacks were coming from. Then, out of nothing, Southampton could have been level. Alderweireld let a long ball go over his head and Gabbiadini got in behind him. Toby recovered to stop him going at goal, but on the right side of the area, he allowed him to turn and play the ball back as Hjobjerg came running onto the ball and crashed a shot at goal from 25 yards out that Hugo got his fingertips to and diverted the ball onto his left hand post. The rebound came out into the middle of the goal, but by the time Armstrong reached it the ball was to the left of the goal and he couldn't get his foot around it to put it in. Not hat it would have mattered as he was offside. It was a warning to Spurs that this game was not quite done and dusted, with only 25 minutes gone. Gabbiadini had a chance himself after Ward-Prowse had squared from the right, but he totally missed his kick and the ball was cleared upfield. The olÚs rang out as Southampton knocked the ball about, but mainly in their own half, so, when they tried to play a ball into a danger area, Juan Foyth was there to cut the ball out. Juan had one dodgy moment where he had the ball and got ambushed, as there was no option for him to lay it off to a team-mate, but otherwise, he had a calm composed game.
Kane could have doubled the score with a low shot that McCarthy saved well, following Son's penetrating run down the middle opened up the opportunity for him. Son was the recipient when Eriksen played a pass down the left hand channel, but the number 7's shot was rising and McCarthy helped it over the bar. From the short corner that resulted Trippier crossed and Dier had to stretch to reach it with his head, but couldn't get it on target. McCarthy was having trouble holding onto shots that came at him and Eriksen's was fumbled, but he managed to recover just before Kane got there. A couple of more Spurs corners amounted to nothing before the half-time whistle went with Spurs having had the bulk of the game, but perhaps being a little fortunate to be 1-0 up as the teams went in.
With no half-time subs, Spurs kicked off and set about the task of ensuring three points were theirs. But it was the visitors who attacked first, with Cedric going down their right and crossing in for Gabbiadini, who could only flick the ball on to ... no red shirt, allowing Trippier to control and work the ball clear, ending with him winning a corner at the other end. It was played in with some whip on it and Toby got across his man at the near post, forcing McCarthy to push the ball away as it looked like it might go in at the far post. The same happened when Eriksen tried to swing a free kick over the wall from just outside the penalty area on the right and the keeper got down well to push the ball away, with it going just inside his right hand post otherwise. From the corner on our left wing, Spurs got their second goal, with the ball finding it's way through to Lucas just beyond the penalty spot. He drove a shot at goal and as Stephens tried to block, it looked as though it struck his arm, but the ball came back to Lucas, who drilled a shot past Yoshida, who turned his back in it, hitting it into the ground seeing the ball bounce past the diving McCarthy. Coming six minutes after the restart, Spurs needed the second goal to give them a bit of a buffer, so it was thanks to Moura's persistence that the two goal cushion was established.
Spurs won the ball from a free-kick for Southampton, playing the ball well and Foyth, Eriksen and Moura played some nice one touch football, but the final pass only went to Targett in the left back position. Trying to clear the ball, he was closed down by Trippier, who blocked the ball which cannoned infield to Harry Kane. He showed quick thinking to knock a low ball into the box, where Sonny arrived at the right time to knock home the ball from the six yard line with his right foot. Two goals in four minutes had surely wrapped up the win, as Spurs had been pressing to make sure they didn't have to rely on a single goal lead.
It nearly didn't prove enough, as a cross came through the Tottenham area to Nathan Redmond, whose shot took a deflection that dipped it past Lloris and onto the face of the crossbar. It was put out for a corner, which went through the area again, before Son kicked it away. Juan Foyth then got himself in the way of a Gabbiadini volley, with the Argentine being on the spot when Ward-Prowse swung in a free-kick from the right that missed everyone and Juan was on the line to block it with Hugo claiming the loose ball. Tottenham were dropping deeper and this gave the Saints the confidence to go forward. A spell of pressure ended with Lucas and Trippier getting blocks in to stop shots on goal, then Alderweireld denied Ward-Prowse by deflecting his effort wide. Targett smashed a shot over the bar, then a corner came to substitute Charlie Austin in the box and he turned quickly, hitting a shot from the left that took a touch off a Spurs leg and Hugo was sprightly to get down to his left and palm the ball away for a corner at the base of his left hand post.
Hugo did even better stop when Hjobjerg hit a 25 yard effort that bounced in front of him, so he could only push it out in front of him, but he was able to recover and got in the way of James Ward-Prowse's follow-up shot from point blank range. It was a very good double save and showed that his reflexes are still up to the job of keeping it safe for Spurs. Austin should have scored when Ward-Prowse put in a fierce corner that was flicked on at the near post, flying to the Saints striker, who could only react to put his header against the bar from a few yards out.
In the run of play, Spurs were getting a bit desperate in clearing the ball, which kept coming back. When they did break away, there was a decent shout for a penalty when Dele, on as a sub, played the ball inside for Rose and he went down under challenge before he got to the ball. It was Kieran Trippier's first game back from his groin injury and when he went down in the 87th minute, he wasn't able to carry on, allowing Mauricio Pochettino to bring on young midfielder Oliver Skipp for his league debut.
Just when it looked like we would be keeping a clean sheet, a simple through pass from deep by Davis set Austin away and although close to being offside, he went through and shot past Hugo, as the Spurs keeper tried to hold his position rather than run out at the forward. It was shame that we could stop the goal going in, as a clean sheet would boost the goal difference and give the defence more confidence, but, sadly, we don't look like being able to keep a clean sheet these days.
Having said that, Hugo was the sole reason that Spurs came away with the three points. The goals at the other end were reasonably straight-forward, but Lloris' saves were top class and were the difference between the two sides. Our finishing made the most of our chances, but you can't help but feel that if we play like that in Barcelona, we will be tonked. Before that there is a visit to Leicester, who seem to have the hump with us for being so unwilling to give up the chase for the title three seasons ago. A win there would be nice and would set us up for the trip to Spain.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||3||Crystal Palace||-||-day|
|West Ham United London||3||Cardiff City||1||Tuesday|
|League Table 2018-19|
|10||Brighton & Hove Albion||15||6||3||7||18||21||21||-3|
|13||West Ham United London||15||5||3||7||20||23||18||-3|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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