Tottenham claimed a battling win over Southampton despite the worrying absence of their 24-goal striker Harry Kane. The win extends Tottenham’s club-record run of consecutive home Premier League wins to ten.
Goals from Christian Eriksen, a left-footed shot from outside the box, his 13th from this distance since his Premier League debut, and Dele Alli, from the penalty spot after a foul by Steven Davis, gave Spurs a 2-0 lead before half time.
However, Southampton gave a good account of themselves and halved the deficit as England squad member James Ward-Prowse scored from close range following a rare mistake from Toby Alderweireld. The defeat, however, leaves Southampton with 33 points from 27 games, with matching last season’s tally of 63 looking increasingly unlikely. Here’s two good, two bad as Tottenham consolidated second place in the Premier League.
BAD: Gabbiadini’s injury woes
Following a barren spell in the Premier League in which the Saints struggled for goals without Charlie Austin, the solution seemed to have arrived in the form of Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini. After six goals in his first four games for the club, excluding a goal in the EFL Cup final wrongly disallowed for offside, Gabbiadini has gone as soon as he arrived.
Following a thunderous effort saved by Hugo Lloris, Gabbiadini seemed to pull up in pain, clutching at his left leg and Claude Puel was forced into taking him off in the first half. The manager has also confirmed that Gabbiadini suffered a groin injury. Southampton are hopeful that it won’t keep their talismanic striker out of action for too long or risk the goal-drought becoming problematic again.
GOOD: No Kane, still gain
The pressure was on Tottenham to perform without their key player and prior to the weekend, they had won just three of nine top-flight games without Kane this season, during which they had scored eight goals. However, one of those wins was the impressive 2-0 win over then-unbeaten Manchester City, demonstrating how there are goals found elsewhere.
It was Eriksen and Alli that came up trumps on the weekend, though, with their 10th and 17th goals of the season respectively. Stand-in striker Heung-min Son, too, was lively as per, but failed to convert two good chances that came his way, striking one into Fraser Forster before his sluggishness allowed a tackle to deny him the second shot. However, between the three of them they have scored 41 goals this season. Not bad for a side supposedly reliant on one player.
BAD: No luck against former bosses
Unfortunately for Southampton, they have to make do with bigger sides poaching their best players and managers year after year. It was Tottenham that came calling for Maurico Pochettino, whilst Everton lured Ronald Koeman away over the summer. They’ll be happy to see the back of sides managed by their former bosses this season.
After losing 4-1 to Tottenham in December and 3-0 to Koeman’s Everton the following month, Pochettino inflicted further misery onto his former club with a 2-1 defeat on Sunday. It’s worse enough that these times steal Southampton’s prized assets, let alone comfortably beating them. It’s rubbing salt into the wound.
GOOD: Alli’s role is changing
Change doesn’t necessarily imply improvement, but in this case the gain has been unparalleled in terms of Dele Alli’s positional change. Moving away from a number ten position, Alli has practically become a second striker to Kane. He’s often Tottenham’s highest player on the pitch and leads the line with remarkable ease for someone who isn’t yet well-versed as a support striker.
To highlight the change, Alli has taken less touches this season, made less tackles and played less passes. What he’s added, though, is goals. His 14 from midfield is an improvement on the ten he scored last year, though his three assists are worse than last season’s nine. Pochettino’s tactical change to a three-man defence has taken defensive responsibility away from Alli and has allowed him to do what he does best; lurk around the box and make late runs into dangerous areas. Spurs are reaping the rewards of this change.
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