Wednesday 23 May 2018

Eriksen illness leaves Spurs without their cutting edge

Southampton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Tottenham's Harry Kane misses a chance to score. Photo: Reuters/David Klein
Tottenham's Harry Kane misses a chance to score. Photo: Reuters/David Klein

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Other Tottenham teams in other seasons might have left Southampton with a point and felt fairly proud of it.

However, for this Tottenham team, fighting to get back into the Champions League places, this sodden draw was a serious disappointment.

Tottenham's Harry Kane scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs
Tottenham's Harry Kane scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs

Spurs had won six of their last eight league matches before yesterday, including battering Saints 5-2 at Wembley on St Stephen's Day when almost everything they tried came off.

But it did not go like that yesterday as Spurs produced one of their most disappointing performances in months, creating almost nothing and recording just two shots on target all afternoon.

Harry Kane's equaliser, a header from a corner, came on 17 minutes.

That should have signalled Spurs taking control, but they were stuck in first gear all afternoon and it was only when Mauricio Pochettino started to make changes, in the final 20 minutes, that his team played with any threat.

Southampton's Steven Davis and Ryan Bertrand in action with Tottenham's Harry Kane. Photo: Reuters/David Klein
Southampton's Steven Davis and Ryan Bertrand in action with Tottenham's Harry Kane. Photo: Reuters/David Klein

The real reason it went wrong for Spurs is that they did not have Christian Eriksen, who was missing with flu.

Lobotomise

To take Eriksen off the pitch is effectively to lobotomise this Tottenham team. He is their influential conductor, directing all of their best moves.

The Dane was replaced by Moussa Sissoko, the exact opposite of a like-for-like change. The result was that Spurs' game was far more about getting the ball down the channels, and putting crosses into the box, without ever going anywhere.

Under heavy rain, on an awful pitch, against a team fighting for its life, Saints snuck into the lead by exploiting the space in behind Serge Aurier.

Tottenham's Dele Alli in action with Southampton's Jack Stephens. Photo: Reuters/David Klein
Tottenham's Dele Alli in action with Southampton's Jack Stephens. Photo: Reuters/David Klein

Dusan Tadic rolled a pass through to Ryan Bertrand on the overlap and he whipped the ball to the near post, from where Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez inadvertently applied the finishing touch.

Spurs went straight down the other end and equalised. Eric Dier forced a corner, Ben Davies curled the ball in and Kane ran away from Jack Stephens and leaped above Marco Gabbiadini to thump his header into the net - his 11th goal seven games.

That was as good as it got for the visitors. It was Southampton who came closer to winning the game.

Ireland U-19 international Michael Obafemi, who was making his debut, got on the end of Tadic's cross, with four minutes left, only to skew his shot wide. (© Independent News Service)

 

Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Jan Vertonghen in action with Southampton's Dusan Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs
Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Jan Vertonghen in action with Southampton's Dusan Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs

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