OPPONENTS Southampton
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 23rd March 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Having lost to Liverpool at home 0-3, the Saints have enjoyed two away wins at Palace and Norwich, but having only won one game against a top half team this season, so the game against Spurs will be a big test for them.

Spurs will have to beat Artur Boruc, the erratic Polish goalkeeper, who previously played for Celtic. A large and useful keeper, his rash decision making and sloppy handling can put his side in trouble. He tries to be too much of a footballer and not enough of a goalkeeper when he has the ball at his feet, while he comes for high balls that he shouldn’t and pushes shots back into the path of players instead of knocking them wide. Tottenham will have to improve their shooting accuracy to put Boruc under pressure and force the mistakes from him.

With a young and talented side, three of Southampton’s full backs are among the most coveted in the Premier League. Nathaniel Clyne/Callum Chambers and Luke Shaw are right and left backs with an aptitude for getting forward and the pace of youth to help them recover situations if they get caught out. With an attacking mind-set, Tottenham’s breakaway play might prove useful, but the movement of the ball needs to be much more rapid than it has been in recent league matches. The spell in the game at Benfica showed that when they started passing quicker through the midfield, they were immediately around the Portuguese team’s goal.

With Jose Fonte pitting his height against Emmanuel Adebayor, the need for Tottenham to play to our strengths rather than those of the opposition become important. Spurs got three goals at the New Dell, with use of the ball from wide positions paying dividends. Dejan Lovren has played against us in European competition, having featured for Basel last season, but he did not have such a great game earlier this season against us, so, he could be a player that we play on to make inroads into the Southampton defence.

Injuries may deprive Southampton of the services of Jack Cork, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin and Guily de Prado, but with England international Adam Lallana, up and coming youngster James Ward-Prowse, Steve Davis and Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez, there is still enough ability there to trouble teams.  Lallana is the new golden boy of the England scene and he ahs played very well this season, drifting into areas to receive the ball and then drifting past players to have attempts on goal or set up his team-mates.  It will be difficult to pick him up, unless someone is detailed to mark him, so our midfield will need to ensure that he is doing the chasing rather than the other way around.  Ramirez is an interesting player, who has not featured regularly for the Saints.  Deadly from dead ball situations, he has the ability to be the link man between the midfield and the forwards, but his transition into English football has not been smooth, as injuries have prevented him having a run of games.  Steve Davis is a "run and run" type player, who will niggle and annoy in the engine room, while Ward-Prowse is another creator in midfield, who also has good stamina to keep running box-to-box. 

Ricky Lambert and Jay Rodriguez are two strikers who have caused problems for opposition defences, with strength and guile being their respective assets. Lambert has broken into the England set up and the use of his traditional centre-forward’s skills, making the centre-halves of this league feel uncomfortable, as he lets them know he's there and to make them think twice about what he will do next time.  Rodriguez is a different type of forward, with a liking for coming in from wide positions, to beat a man and then to hit shots across the keeper.  Mobile and with a good ability to take a man on, he was reasonably quiet in the first meeting this season, but has the ability to fashion a shot on goal from unlikely situations.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has been strongly linked with a move to Tottenham in the summer if Tim Sherwood is not retained.  The Argentinian was little known when Southampton sacked Nigel Adkins and brought him in from Spain, but he has shown that he has a belief in playing football the right way to gain results.  His style has been to bring out the best of the young crop of players at St. Marys. 

Spurs have players returning to the side form injury, rest and suspension, so should be stringer than on Thursday on paper, but they will need to be strong in the head to improve our home record and get the three points that will now help us retain fifth place, but Everton have a game in hand.  The most important aspect of the game is to play a decent game and show that the team can focus to get a run of victories going as we approach the end of the season.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Southampton    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs should have Mousa Dembele, Younes Kaboul, Hugo Lloris and Emmanuel Adebayor in the side after injury and being rested, while Jan Vertonghen should be in the team after missing the trip to Benfica as he was suspended.  Tottenham still have worries over Kyle Walker (groin), Danny Rose (knee) and Paulinho (shin), with Vlad Chiriches (back), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Erik Lamela (back) all definitely out.  Michael Dawson is coming back to training after his hamstring injury, but may not yet be ready for this match.
Midfielders Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama are out injured, while there are doubts over the fitness of midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Guily de Prado.  Kelvin David faces a late fitness test to see if he will be on the bench as the back up goalkeeper.

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Radio :  
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Tottenham Hotspur  3 (1)                                                                        Southampton  2 (2)
Premier League
Sunday 23rd March 2014                                                                                                                             Kick off 13:30
White Hart Lane
Eriksen  31
Eriksen  46
Sigurdsson  90+2
Rodriguez  19
Lallana  28
Bentaleb (foul on Ward-Prowse) 79


Lovren (foul on Soldado)  60 
Cork (foul on Chadli) 91


Crowd :   35,460 Weather :  Warm when sunny, but chilly when dloudy
Referee :  Anthony Taylor (-) Assistant Referees :  - (-)
Fourth Official :  - -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90+6 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Southampton : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

  4  Younes KABOUL (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

19  Mousa DEMBELE  (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON 46  )
42  Nabil BENTALEB      

  7  Aaron LENNON  (17  Andros TOWNSEND )
21  Nacer CHADLI
23  Christian ERIKSEN   

  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
20  Michael DAWSON
35  Harry KANE

  13  Artur BORUC

  2  Nathaniel CLYNE
  6  Jose FONTE
  5  Dejan LOVREN
 -  Luke SHAW

18  Jack CORK
  8  Steven DAVIS
20  Adam LALLANA (c) 
 -  -

  7  Ricky LAMBERT

Unused subs: 
-  -
-  -
-  -
-  -
-  -
-  -

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  gap3
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

While Tottenham were almost architects of their own downfall in the first half, they built to a crescendo in the second, with Gylfi Sigurdsson's injury time drive winning the three points, which keep them in touch with fourth place and jumping on top of Everton top go back fifth, although they have played two more games than the Scousers.

Sherwood shuffled his pack of aces once more and brought back Mousa Dembele, dropping Paulinho, with Sandro nowhere to be seen.  Nor was Adebayor, still suffering from a few knocks.  There was no Walker either, but Dawson made the bench. So, Spurs had Lennon, Eriksen and Chadli comprising the midfield three, with Soldado ahead of them.

When the game started, it looked as though Tottenham were up for it. A couple of early crosses from the right were blocked and from a corner, Kaboul had a free header, which he put down, but he headed straight at Boruc. Six minutes into the game, Lallana had a chance of scoring, but his shot bent wide, while Rodriguez did manage to beat Lloris, but the whistle had gone long before he shot as he had gone beyond the last defender.

When Chadli broke down the left wing, he pulled the ball across the area, but failed to pick out either Soldado or Lennon, leaving a good chance going begging. Two minutes later, Southampton took the lead. An eighteenth minute goal kick by Boruc flew upfield and Kyle Naughton went to head it, but was way underneath it, allowing the ball to run through to Jay Rodriguez, who slotted it home past Lloris to the keeper’s left. It was another poor goal to concede, following a string of others lately.

Halfway through the half, Lallana was set up by Lambert, but his shot was weak and directly at Hugo, then Shaw moved forward without challenge and fired in a shot which flicked off Kaboul and went out for a corner. Their next attack lead to a second goal, with Naughton once more the fall guy. A move around the Spurs box broke down, with Shaw putting the ball into the air, with Lambert and Lallana offside, but with the linesman not flagging until they touch the ball, Kyle panicked when he saw them both standing on the edge of the box and tried to clear, only succeeding in slicing the ball to Lambert. The England forward passed to Lallana and he fired past Lloris to double the Saints lead and spark the devil in the Spurs crowd, many of whom booed at the score-line.

With 28 minutes gone, Spurs were facing a massive task to get anything from the game.

It took half an hour to get a shot at goal and Bentaleb’s effort went about five yards wide. However, it was the precursor to the goal, which came a minute later. Naughton got forward on the right and his cross was missed by Soldado’s jump at the near post and Clyne was in place at the far post to deal with it. Well, he was, but he squirted the ball a yard in front of him, allowing Christian Eriksen to get to the ball first and ram it past Clyne and Boruc from very close range. Getting the score back to 1-2 before half-time was a good morale booster and it also showed that we are not the only team who could cock up in conceding goals.

Dembele went close with a volley when a free-kick was cleared, but it was not that Southampton didn’t have chances to add to their lead before the break. Hugo had to make a point blank stop from Lallana’s close range shot, Lambert was played through on goal, but dithered and muffed pass to a team-mate. Davis had a volley near the end of the half go wide thanks to Naughton getting in the way, but Eriksen came closest to hitting the net, with a whipped in free-kick, which forced Boruc push the ball over the bar hurriedly.

Ex-Spurs and Saints striker Martin Chivers came out at the break, allowing him to reminisce about his time with both clubs and to urge Spurs fans to get behind Roberto Soldado and the team in the second half. but away from the interview, a string of coaches came out to warm up Gylfi Sigurdsson. Freund, the fitness coach and then Tony Parks all spoke to the Icelander before Brad Friedel came out to take him back to the dressing room.

The winger’s entrance in place of Mousa Dembele, who had looked weaker than normal, sparked an immediate reaction. Within a minute, he won the ball, which went to Lennon and he played it back to Gylfi. His pass down the right wing looked too long for Soldado, as Lovren got there first, but as he tried to buy a foul, the Spaniard took the ball off him and looked up to pick out Eriksen with a ball that went across Boruc and the six yard box to give the Dane a tap in at the far post, with Southampton sub Chambers all at sea. Lovren’s attempted cheating left him furious that he didn’t get a free-kick for his weakness on the ball.

The assist by Soldado did wonders for his confidence, trying a shot from 25 yards out shortly after the goal, but it flew wide. Then, his chest down to Eriksen saw Chadli released on the right channel, but Boruc got a touch on his shot and it went into the side netting. There was plenty going on off the ball, as Lovren tried to provoke Soldado, but ended up conceding a string of fouls and getting booked when he went through Roberto challenging for a high ball. Eriksen was slipped in for a shot into the side netting by Sigurdsson, then he was robbed of another shooting opportunity, when Chambers got a tackle in as the ball would not come down from Vertonghen’s long pass quick enough.

Spurs were rarely threatened by Southampton now, as the pressing further up the pitch put pressure on the visitor’s players, as they had done to Tottenham’s in the first half. An Eriksen free-kick came out to Gylfi on the edge of the box, but the defenders were on him before he could get a shot away. Christian was then involved in a good breakaway. Rose’s tackle deprived Chambers of the ball and he passed to Chadli, who fed Eriksen, setting him free on the left wing. Reaching the left side of the penalty area, he looked up, spotted Soldado in the box and played the ball across goal for him, but it was too far in front to allow the striker to reach it.

A free kick gave Southampton a chance, with Lallana’s cross heading for Lambert, but Kyle Naughton, much improved after the interval, just knocked the ball away from him as he closed in. Lambert went close with a couple of minutes to go, but, seizing on a loose ball in the box, he hit a left foot shot wide to the left of Lloris’ goal. In between, Soldado went close with a volley from just outside the area, after Chadli had flicked the ball on, then two minutes into injury time, a ball into the box was weakly headed out by Jose Fonte, but straight to Christian. He laid the ball sideways to Sigurdsson, who could run onto the pass and smash it, first time from 20 yards out, low and past Boruc’s right hand as he dived, but could not stop the ball nestling in the back of the net. It was a fine reversal of fortunes for the team and for Gylfi, who has not been a regular in the side. And the unnecessary attempts the Saints made to be sinners, with time wasting in kicking the ball away and feigning injuries (Lallana never used to be like that before he played for England - that much I do agree with Mark Clattenburg on), came back to bite them in the end.

But there was still time to extend the lead further. Spurs broke well and caught out the pulled out of position full back Shaw, as Chadli broke on the right and looked to set Roberto up with the goal he deserved for his link-up play, but the ball did not reach him, as it was cut out by a desperate lunge. As it was, it didn’t matter, as the whistle blew shortly afterwards with the ball in the corner at the Southampton end and the three points were Tottenham’s, while the visitors slumped to their knees in despair at not being able to hold onto the lead.

And therein lies the tale. Southampton had the bulk of the play in the first half, but failed to finish the game off when they were on top. That is something that is normally associated with being one of our failings. On this occasion, Sigurdsson’s energy and advanced role helped deny Southampton the time and space on the ball to play the ball long and run at the Spurs defence. This allowed Spurs to get at their defenders, who wilted under the pressure. Lovren twice was eased off the ball, with Fonte not clearing the ball for the winner.

Sherwood’s tactical genius takes the credit for the win, but the players pulled the game around with the Head Coach up in the stands for the majority of the match.

Whether that can continue for six of the seven games left, with next week’s match at Liverpool a real test of how the team might be progressing.













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What you thought
Clive Stephenson You didn’t mention that Lambert dropped to the floor to win a cheap free-kick in front of the East Stand and when he got stick from the fans in the front rows, he winked and smiled at them, knowingly. Cheating free-kicks out of Spurs is usually very annoying, but at least he was admitting that he knew what he was up to and wasn’t hiding it.
Benny The Ball How can Luke Shaw win a seat on the England plane to Brazil with a backside that big ? He may have a low centre of gravity, but he has the build of a rugby player.

The £30 million Southampton want for him must be based on a pound for pound basis.
- -.



Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 3 Liverpool 6 Saturday
Chelsea 6 Arsenal 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Hull City 2 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Manchester City 5 Fulham 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Crystal Palace 0 Saturday
Norwich City 2 Sunderland 0 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 4 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 31 21 6 4 62 23 70 +39
2 Liverpool 30 20 5 5 82 38 65 +44
3 Manchester City 28 20 3 5 76 27 63 +49
4 Arsenal 30 19 5 6 53 34 62 +19
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 31 17 5 9 40 40 56 0
6 Everton 29 15 9 5 43 30 54 +13
7 Manchester United 30 15 6 9 48 34 51 +14
8 Newcastle United 30 14 4 12 38 40 46 -2
9 Southampton 31 12 9 10 45 39 45 +6
10 Stoke City 31 9 9 13 35 42 37 -7
11 Aston Villa 30 9 7 14 33 42 34 -9
12 Hull City 30 9 6 15 32 37 33 -5
13 Norwich City 31 8 8 15 26 48 32 -22
14 West Ham United 30 8 7 15 32 40 31 -8
15 Swansea City 30 7 8 15 40 46 29 -6
16 West Bromwich Albion 30 5 13 12 33 45 28 -12
17 Crystal Palace 30 8 4 18 19 41 28 -20
18 Sunderland 28 6 7 15 26 44 25 -18
19 Cardiff City 31 6 7 18 26 58 25 -32
20 Fulham 31 7 3 21 30 70 24 -40


Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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