Southampton 1 – 4 Tottenham Hotspur
A couple of minutes into the match and it was shaping up to be a very long evening indeed. Van Dijk had given the home side the lead and in the initial stages at least, they were harrying and harassing us as well as any side has this season.
Twenty minutes later, the night had taken a Shakespearian turn. Dele Alli equalised, heading home after the Saints defence were all at sea as Sissoko slung over his cross from the left, and the prospect of defeat had vanished. It was all much ado about nothing.
The goal deflated Southampton. If they were the Duracell bunny beforehand, they were a pound shop equivalent after. Life and energy was sucked from them but they clung on until half-time at one-apiece. While the tide of the game swung in Tottenham’s favour, few chances of genuine note were created in the remaining twenty-five minutes of the half. A lot possession for little end-product.
That changed quickly in the second half. Seven minutes in and Harry Kane ended the biggest crisis since Russia parked missiles off the American coast in Cuba. A firm header from Christian Eriksen’s corner ended his three-game goal drought and crushed a thousand critics’ hearts.
Five minutes later and a golden opportunity was handed to extend the lead. Dele Alli, with a clear sight of goal, was about to pull the trigger when Nathan Redmond fell into him. A clear penalty and for all the criticism of Mike Dean, a red card was rightly shown under the new rules.
Harry Kane popped the ball down and promptly skied the penalty, looking forlornly at the turf afterwards. Just to make sure we knew the ground had given way and that he wasn’t hopeless at spot-kicks. In his post-match interview, he claimed he’d noticed beforehand that a new sod of turf had been laid around the penalty spot so it wasn’t his fault, guv, honest.
With possession already in our favour, it wasn’t a question of whether we scored but how many. Two more turned out to be the answer.
And we had to wait until the final seven minutes as it happened. Son latched onto Eriksen’s pass via a slight deflection, and calmly slotted home from the edge of the area with a shot across Forster. The fourth came from a similar area of the pitch.
Danny Rose’s adventurous run took him past several half-hearted tackles but approaching the area, he stumbled and seemed on the verge of losing possession. A deft flick of the boot sent the ball into Dele Alli’s path and he despatched the ball into the corner of the net with a minimum of backlift. Three points: signed, sealed and delivered.
There may yet be a sting in the tail. Or tale, if you think about the stories and how they are woven through the course of the season. Kyle Walker’s fifth booking of the season rules him out for the trip to Watford this weekend but Jan Vertonghen may be out for longer.
He definitely misses Watford for the the same reason as Walker but television coverage made a lot of the Belgian’s hand connecting with Jay Rodriguez’s face. It’s the sort of attention which forces the Football Association to take action where none is necessarily required.
Alderweireld will need to recover from his virus quickly otherwise a nerve-wracking ninety minutes with the Double-D at the centre of our defence is on hand. Dire and Dimmer will be the headlines if Dier and Wimmer continue their calamitous form.
But that’s a problem for another day. This morning’s task is to look at a healthy position in the league table and look forward to the weekend’s match.