Tottenham solidified second place in the Premier League yesterday with a hard fought win over Southampton at White Hart Lane. Going into the game much was made of the fact that Tottenham would have to make do without Harry Kane due to a repeat of the ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season and whether or not the supporting cast could step up to the mark in his absence.
Now usually I would be watching this game from the comfort of my own home and making the odd note or two throughout the 90 minutes but yesterday I watched it in very different circumstances. That’s because I was lucky enough to be invited along to Grosvenor Casinos in Piccadilly Circus to watch the game alongside Tottenham legends Darren Anderton and Clive Allen.
It was such an enjoyable afternoon talking to both Darren and Clive, they were kind enough to answer all the questions that me and a dozen or so other football writers who were lucky to be involved were throwing their way. During the game I sat next to Clive and I have to say watching the game with an ex-professional takes it to a different level, the insight they offer is incredible.
The way they pick up on little details that you would never even consider when watching it games shows why they have played the game at the highest level. You think you know your Football and then the blow that knowledge out of the water. I’d just like to say a huge thanks to Grosvenor for inviting me and making the day possible.
But enough about my day out and back to the real matters in hand and that was the on pitch action in North London. Heung-min Son was rewarded for his hat-trick the week before against Millwall in the F.A Cup Quarter Final with a place in the starting eleven. The South Korean international would be charged with leading the line what with Kane being out injured.
And it was Son who nearly broke the deadlock with the first opportunity of the game. An inch perfect pass from Christian Eriksen split the Southampton centre back pairing of Yoshida and Stephens and set Son clear. Thankfully for Claude Puel though there was enough body mass for Fraser Forster to block the ball and keep the game scoreless at this early stage.
That was not to be the case for too much longer though as the deadlock was broken in the 14th minute. Neat work by Mousa Dembele in Tottenham’s half allowed him enough time and space to thread the ball through to Eriksen. With a quick look up he then fired a low accurate finish past Forster’s whose body mass probably worked against him this time around due to his failure to get down quick enough.
That would have been of no concern to Tottenham though as they took an early deserved lead in front of their own fans. That’s not to say Southampton did not have their chances though and there were a couple of early scares for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. There was a key period of 10 minutes in the first half which really changed the full complexion of the game.
Firstly Dusan Tadic wasted a guilt edged opportunity to level the score. Nathan Redmond did excellently to keep the ball in when it looked like a lost cause, his neat flick set up Tadic just outside the six yard box but the Southampton Midfielder fired very high over the bar much to the relief of everyone connected to Tottenham.
It would get worse for Southampton just minutes later when their in form striker Manolo Gabbiadini would go off with a groin injury, there would be no addition to the 6 goals he had already scored for the club in his short stint at the club. But things would go from bad to worse just moments later when Tottenham were awarded a penalty.
Southampton looked clumsy at the back as they failed not once but twice to clear their lines and with the ball pinging about the box it finally landed at the feet of Dele Alli. But as soon as Alli found possession he was then bundled down by Steven Davis with Andre Mariner subsequently pointing to the spot and giving Spurs the ideal chance to double their advantage.
With Kane out injured it was a case of who was going to take the penalty in his absence, the was only one answer to that question and that was Alli. He raced to the collect the ball and placed it on the spot. There may have been some delaying tactics from Forster in the Southampton goal but it was not enough to deter Alli who made it 2-0 with 12 minutes of the first half remaining.
Many then asked at the break whether Tottenham would find an extra gear after the break and really put Southampton to the sword but credit must go to the away side who certainly came out fighting after the restart and within 7 minutes we would once again have a game on our hands as the deficit was halved thanks to James Ward-Prowse.
Toby Alderweireld was at fault which is something that has never been written before when mentioning Tottenham conceding, but I guess there is a first time for everything and with Ryan Bertrand allowed to fire in a low cross, England Under 21 international Ward-Prowse was on hand to fire past Hugo Lloris and put Southampton back into the game.
Southampton had renewed vigour and went in search of an equaliser but Tottenham were not in the mood to hand out any more gifts as a stubborn midfield and defence made sure that Claude Puel’s side were not to get anything from the game. It was professional last half hour from Spurs as they saw the game out to earn all three points and more importantly put some daylight between themselves and Manchester City in third.
With Chelsea continually winning the most Tottenham could have done yesterday was cut the gap back down to 10 points and make sure they are the best of the rest going into the international break. That objective was achieved and with a run of games once Premier League action resumes that does not include a side in the top 10 they may well not miss Harry Kane all that much.