Sunday 25 February 2018

Tottenham fall flat as Davis double puts second place at risk

Tottenham1 Southampton 2

Southampton striker Shane Long shoots at the Spurs goal but fails to score during yesterday’s Premier League clash at White Hart Lane. Photo: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
Southampton striker Shane Long shoots at the Spurs goal but fails to score during yesterday’s Premier League clash at White Hart Lane. Photo: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
Southampton's Ryan Bertrand and Tottenham Hotspur's Clinton N'Jie battle for the ball. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Tottenham's Harry Kane looks dejected after Steven Davis scores the second goal for Southampton. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Matt Law

Tottenham failed to turn up to what should have been their own end-of-season party to leave the threat of yet again finishing below Arsenal still hanging over them.

Having watched Andrea Bocelli serenade the King Power Stadium the previous day ahead of Leicester City being presented with the Premier League trophy, Spurs fans saw their celebration plans fall flat.

The title may have gone and there was no need to put a call into Chas & Dave, but Tottenham had still been hoping to see off the season at home in style. Lesser-spotted owner Joe Lewis had even turned up at White Hart Lane, no doubt expecting to witness the win that would have confirmed Tottenham's first finish above Arsenal since 1995.

Yet two goals from Southampton midfielder Steven Davis meant that Lewis and the Spurs fans left the ground waiting to find out if Arsenal would manage to take the duel between the two clubs into the final day of the season.

The draw against Manchester City means Tottenham, thanks to their superior goal difference, need a point at Newcastle United on Sunday to be sure of finishing as London's top team.

Missing both the suspended Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele against Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino's side lacked their normal drive and creativity. The Argentine head coach was not even his energetic self on the touchline, as a groin injury suffered in training meant he had to remain in his seat. Pochettino may have claimed that he does not care about Arsenal or particularly rate finishing above them as an achievement, but Lewis, chairman Daniel Levy and the Tottenham fans certainly do. They have not known a season like this since the 1960s, however Spurs are now limping across the line when they really should have motored across it some time ago.

Against Southampton, Tottenham ran out of ideas and energy after a bright opening 25 minutes in which the party atmosphere was in full swing.

Christian Eriksen forced the visitors' goalkeeper Fraser Forster into a good save low down to his left in just the fifth minute from a Danny Rose cross. But Forster did not do so well 11 minutes later, as Tottenham took the lead through Son Heung-min.

Erik Lamela's pass looked as though it was aimed towards Harry Kane, who would have been offside. But the England striker made no attempt to get the ball and Son caught out the Southampton defence to reach it. Still faced with a lot to do to get a proper sight of goal, Son managed to slalom his way around Forster, Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte before putting the ball into the net.

The goal looked as though it might be the start of an end-of-season knees-up, yet Spurs switched off for the final 20 minutes of the first-half, allowing Southampton back into the game, and never properly got going again. Rose cut out a Ryan Bertrand cross, which was begging to be converted, and there were protests from the Spurs bench that referee Jon Moss should have stopped the game when the Southampton full-back left Kyle Walker was left on the ground following an aerial clash.

Moss allowed the game to continue, however, and Dusan Tadic played the ball into the box and Davis managed to squeeze his shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to equalise.

Forster stopped Kane restoring Tottenham's lead on the stroke of half-time and Pochettino was clearly unhappy as he headed down the tunnel for the break. Dembele's ban meant that Ryan Mason had been handed a start, but his most meaningful contribution was to get in the way of a goal-bound shot from Eriksen. He was later substituted.

Davis was far more influential for the visitors and the Northern Irishman put Southampton ahead with his second goal of the game after again linking with Tadic. This time, with 18 minutes remaining, Davis played a one-two with Tadic in the Tottenham penalty area and perfectly placed a shot past Lloris.

Tottenham had a late chance but Nacer Chadli's shot cannoned back off the leg of Forster, and Lewis and Levy were left to head back to the directors' lounge to keep an eye on the Arsenal score. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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