OPPONENTS Southampton at St. Mary's
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 9th March 2019
PREVIEW Completing a comprehensive win over Borussia Dortmund in mid-week, albeit with a backs-to-the-wall defensive performance in the first half, gives the players a positive mind-set as they approach this match with Southampton.  With three clear weeks after it, they can give it 100% knowing they can rest after the game.  Criticism about the mental weakness of the side was put to bed, as they became the first team to win on Dortmund's turf this season and showed a determined resilience to come away from Germany as the tam who have progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Southampton have suffered the same fate as a lot of sides near the bottom of the table and that is  lack of goals.  31 in 29 matches means that their strike-force has been failing.  However, with only a goals-scoring chance rate of 1.1 per game, it is not surprising that the forwards have had little success with little to feed off.  Danny Ings top scores with 7 since his loan from Liverpool, but he will be missing, so James Ward-Prowse comes in second with five goals.  He has only started scoring more recently, with the new role handed to him by the new manager freeing him up to get forward more.  With Ings injured, it leaves slim pickings from the rest of the forward section of the squad.  Shane Long, who has one goal in about two seasons; Michael Obafemi and Sam Gallagher - two youngsters, with not a great deal of Premier League experience, but most likely, they will start with Charlie Austin, to try an unsettle the Spurs defence with his physical play.

Creating the chances and looking for goal from midfield, Hassenhuttl will be hoping for a bit more end product form Nathan Redmond.  A player who has long been tipped to fulfil his potential has still left people waiting.  A good player on the ball and possesses a good cross, but too often his final ball or shot is lacking accuracy.  Youngster Josh Sims hit the headlines when he first broke through, but has been quiet since then and Mohamed Elyounoussi has added a little flair, but not much to show for it yet.  Goals were expected from Stuart Armstrong when he came down to Southampton from Glasgow Celtic, but, despite some energetic displays, he only has three goal sot his name.  Oriel Romeu and Mario Lemina are the defensive midfielders, winning the ball and moving it on, but can get forward and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg puts in a good shift, but should be getting more goals, as he possesses a fierce shot and often gets up with the forwards.  That leaves Redmond, who is a bit of an enigma.  Three goals this season belies his ability and although it is better than his one goal last season, the most he has veer got for Southampton is seven.  If the Saints are to stay up, he may be needed to play a big part in that happening.

Defensively, Southampton have been all at sea sometimes this season.  Having lost Cedric on loan at Internazionale, the hapless Wesley Hoedt shipped out to Celta Vigo and selling the defensive protection of Dusan Tadic and loaning Steven Davis to Glasgow Rangers for the rest of the season, the path to goal for opposition players has been a little too easy.  Jack Stephens was another one touted for great things on his emergence form the Saints Academy, but he has developed a habit of diving into tackles, leaving him exposed if he doesn't win them or perhaps going in too hard.  Yoshida has fallen out of favour with the new boss, leaving new signing Jannik Vestergaard to partner Stephens.  The Dane looks a decent player, but in the Southampton team at the moment, he is struggling.  Full backs Matt Targett and Ryan Bertrand put in a lot of effort, working the lines getting forward when they can, but often they will not be covered and there is space to attack, which might suit Tottenham on  the break.

Spurs are starting to look a little more like their old selves, but without quite being as fluent as earlier in the season, but a run of results now, with points added tot he already impressive total would help in the final run-in.   With that long break looming, Poch can afford to put out a strong side even after Tuesday's game, even though he will not be able to influence things after the ban handed down to him from the FA.  It was another example of how they try and clamp down on Spurs, while other mangers get away with it.  Some of Guardiola's antics are extremely insulting and Mourinho did get punished, but got away with more than he was charged for.  I am sure that Jesus Perez will be able to do Poch's bidding and the only surprise is that he didn't also pick up a ban form the FA.

Tottenham’s victory over Dortmund on Tuesday wasn’t without cost and Harry Winks is unlikely to take part after aggravating his groin injury, but with Eric Dier playing again after his bout of tonsillitis, hopefully, it will not inconvenience Pochettino too much when it comes to team selection. Having Dele back after a long lay-off could also help add some fresh legs to the midfield and boost the attacking options.

Southampton have had a disrupted season after Mark Hughes left with the club in the doldrums, but Ralph Hassenhutl has instilled some organisation into the side and made some team changes to give some balance to the side.  Whether that will be enough to defeat Spurs, I don't think so, but it will be a tough game, with the home team set up to frustrate.


PREDICTION Southampton    1        Tottenham Hotspur    2
Premier League Kick off 15.00
Southampton  2 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (1)

Valery  75m 58s
Ward-Prowse  80m 08s


Kane 25m 48s

Crowd :   31,890 Weather :  Sunny, mild
Referee : Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Matthew Wilkes; Mr. Simon Beck
Fourth Official :  Lee Probert  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Northam Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Romeu (pull back on Moura)  10 
Valery  (foul on Rose)  22
Hojbjerg  (simulation)  78
Redmond  (push on Sissoko)  84


Kyle Walker-Peters  (foul on Armstrong)  79
Sissoko  (push on Redmond)  84


Southampton : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
28  Angus GUNN

  3  Maya YOSHIDA
43  Yan VALERY      

14  Oriel ROMEU       (39  Josh SIMS  46)
23  Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG

16  James WARD-PROWSE  (c) 

10  Charlie AUSTIN  (  7  Shane LONG  46  [17  Stuart ARMSTRONG  73])
22  Nathan REDMOND     

Unused subs: 
1  Alex McCARTHY
  5  Jack STEPHENS
33  Matt TARGETT
55  Callum SLATTERY

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  3  Danny ROSE  (33  Ben DAVIES  82)

15  Eric DIER
17  Moussa SISSOKO     

20  DELE Alli  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  )
Christian ERIKSEN
7  Lucas MOURA  (  7  Heung-Min SON  72)

10  Harry KANE 

Unused subs: 
1  Juan FOYTH
  Victor WANYAMA
11  Erik LAMELA


Manager :  Ralph Hassenhuttl Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Virgin Media Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Despite looking to have recovered from the blip in results, Spurs managed to fritter away a goal lead and comfortable control of this game by allowing Southampton back in, an opportunity they took with both goals in the second half.  The watching Mauricio Pochettino, serving the first of a two match ban, must have been looking down in anger, having seemingly done enough in the first 45 minutes to go on and win the game.

Spurs kicked off and looked in control from the off, with Harry Kane looking sharp and having two early chances.  Dele Alli's header set Harry up for a third minute shot, but he dragged it wide of the goal, before he was put through by Christian Eriksen in the next minute, but again, he missed the target.  The only response from the home side was a low ball in by Ward-Prowse, but Jan Vertonghen was there to clear the ball.  Lucas Moura wriggled into the penalty area before being bumped down and despite calls for a penalty from the Spurs contingent behind the goal, the referee waved away any suggestion of a spot-kick.  When Lucas was pulled back as he tried to break away, Romeu was rightly booked.  The Dele-Kane axis was working well, despite Harry straying offside on one occasion

Eric Dier was neatly set up by Kane, who took Rose's cross and laid it into the path of the midfielder, but he got it much too high.  With 20 minutes gone, Kyle Walker-Peters, preferred to Aurier who didn't feature in the match-day squad, won the ball and Harry took it off him, firing in a low cross looking for Moura, but Yoshida intervened.  Fortunatley for the Japanese defender, the ball cannoned off the post and away to Danny Rose, who was fouled.  Valery was booked for it and the home team almost paid a bigger price, as Christian Eriksen curled it expertly over the wall and the ball smacked against the bar. 

Just when Southampton had their first chance, Austin's shot was blocked by Dier and the ball ran out to Kane, who spotted Dele away to his left.  He looked like he was going to have a go himself, but squared the ball to Harry, who looked like he was going to hit it on the volley, but stopped the ball and then slid it past Gunn to open the scoring from a narrow angle on the right side of the goal.  It was a classy piece of finishing, but one made by Dele's deft ball to land on his foot and give him the time to decide exactly what he wanted to do with it.

Southampton's response was for Bertrand to play a low cross towards Austin, who turned and found Jan in the way, with Betrand playing a free-kick in, but Dier was there to head it away.  Spurs hit Southampton on the break with Lucas racing away from Vestergaard and he found Dele, whose shot was pushed over by the keeper.  Redmond had a shot over the bar after he skipped away from Dier on halfway, but there was little for Lloris to get involved in, as Spurs moved the ball around confidently.   Jan worried the Spurs fans with a shot way over the bar, before Dele forced Gunn to punch the ball away from a 22 yard shot just before half time.  A Saints free-kick turned into a Spurs break, but the pass in towards Lucas Moura was picked off by the keeper.  Eriksen also tested the keeper with a 20-yarder, which Gunn  couldn't hold and Spurs own another corner.

Ralph Hassenhuttl made a double change at the break, with Long and Sims coming on for Austin and Romeu, which perked up the Saints, with Sims recording the team's first shot on target seconds after the restart, but Hugo saved it even though it bounced in front of him.  Sims then turned away on the right and crossed for Long to head down into the box (I think it was supposed to be on target though), where KWP cleared it away.

As Saints looked more offensive, there was a large amount of space for Spurs to attack and only the keeper kept Kane out as the England captain cut between two defenders to try and bend a shot to the far post.  From the resulting corner, Jan sliced a volley wide when he perhaps should have tried to play it back into the crowded six yard box.  Dele again fed Kane and his shot was blocked by Bendarek.  In the second phase, Southampton won the ball and released Long, whose cross picked out Redmond on the far post, but his shot hit the side-netting.  Spurs were pinned back for a while and Dele's header from Ward-Prowse's free-kick averted the danger, then Hojbjerg struck a shot well over the bar.  Sims took a kick in the face ducking low, but the ref played on, as did his team-mates, but it was worked to Redmond, who again found the side-netting from a good position.  The angry home supporters wanted a penalty, but Jan's foot wasn't that high when Sims head-butted it !

Spurs did look to add to the lead, but Eriksen's shot from outside the box was straight at Gunn, who got everything behind it.  A near post dash by Redmond got ahead of his marker to nudge a low cross from Valery into the side-netting once more.  Shane Long did his usual and pulled back Vertonghen on halfway, leaving both players down injured and needing treatment.  When play resumed, Sissoko made a strong run on the right wing, cutting inside and finding Eriksen, who played it on to Kane, who tried a cheeky trip over Gunn, but cleared the bar. 

With a large number of subs warming up, Pochettino must have been messaging Jesus on the bench for a change to be made to try and stem the flow of Southampton's play.  Son came on for Moura and Southampton exchanged Armstrong for substitute Long, moving Redmond as the lone striker.  Southampton had been building pressure and when the goal came it wasn't much of a surprise, but it was sloppy, as Armstrong's cross was left by Danny Rose and Valery scuffed the ball over Hugo for an equaliser.  The ball travelled all the way across the six yard box before it reached the Southampton full back.

When Armstrong dispossessed KWP, the Spurs defender dragged him back on the edge of the penalty area as he looked like he was in on goal.  It was a foul that deserved perhaps more than a yellow, but when Ward-Prowse curled it over the bar and beat Lloris, the punishment was complete.  Spurs had been poor in the second half and as poor as Southampton had been in the first half, Tottenham had been as complacent in the second.

As the seconds ticked down to 90 minutes, Redmond raced away for Sanchez, but his shot was weak and straight at Hugo as he reached the penalty area.  A late corner saw Sissoko's shot blocked for another corner, which this time was taken by Gunn unchallenged.  At the end of the game, Spurs were lumping the ball into the box and Southampton defended doggedly until the final whistle went and the home fans had something to celebrate.  I don't think the fact that Pochettino being in the stands had much to do with the defeat, but the players eased off and quite shockingly lost a match in which they allowed Southampton to build up some second half momentum from the restart. 

This leaves Spurs hoping that other results go our way when we should have been in charge of our own destiny and that winning mentality that saw them through on Tuesday has vanished into thin air.  A three week break now will hopefully lead to them re-energising themselves, but the last break we had seemed to disrupt our form.  It's not what was needed with a return to White Hart Lane on the cards.

Burton Coggles

Match facts

Harry Kane's goal was his 200th for club and country.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 2 West Ham United London 0 Saturday
Crystal Palace 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Saturday
Huddersfield Town 0 Bournemouth 2 Saturday
Leicester City 3 Fulham 1 Saturday
Manchester City 3 Watford 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 Everton 2 Saturday
Liverpool 4 Burnley 2 Sunday
Chelsea 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Sunday
Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0 Sunday



League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 30 24 2 4 79 21 74 +58
2 Liverpool 30 22 7 1 68 17 73 +51
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 20 1 9 57 32 61 +25
4 Arsenal 30 18 6 6 63 39 60 +24
5 Manchester United 30 17 7 6 58 40 58 +18
6 Chelsea 29 17 7 6 50 31 57 +19
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30 12 8 10 38 36 44 +2
8 Watford 30 12 7 11 42 44 43 -2
9 West Ham United London 30 11 6 13 37 43 39 -5
10 Leicester City 30 11 5 14 38 42 38 -4
11 Everton 30 10 7 13 41 42 37 -1
12 Bournemouth 30 11 4 15 41 54 37 -13
13 Newcastle United 30 9 7 14 29 38 34 -9
14 Crystal Palace 30 9 6 15 36 41 33 -5
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 29 9 6 14 32 42 33 -10
16 Southampton 30 7 9 14 34 50 30 -17
17 Burnley 30 8 6 16 34 57 30 -23
18 Cardiff City 30 8 4 18 27 57 28 -30
19 Fulham 30 4 5 21 28 68 17 -40
20 Huddersfield Town 30 3 5 22 15 53 14 -38


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  3rd
Position after the weekend :  3rd


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