The kickoff at White Hart Lane was delayed by half an hour due to problems on the M25. It's a good thing too because Tottenham Hotspur wouldn't have been awake for the whole game as opposed to just the first 86 minutes. Tottenham were very lethargic from the start and didn't managing anything even resembling coherent football.
Southampton, meanwhile, were full of energy and verve. The maintained a high tempo and pressed all over the pitch. Soton had a few good chances in the first half. The first coming in the eleventh minute when fullback Nathaniel Clyne beat the offside trap (or rather just ran by a ball-watching Jan Vertonghen) to latch onto a bouncing through ball from Rickie Lambert. Clyne had the whole goal to shoot at but pulled his shot shamefully wide.
Two-thirds of the way through the half Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was forced off with an injury and was replaced by Lewis Holtby. Immediately following the substitution, Rickie Lambert took a good free kick that Hugo Lloris had to get down well to his left to palm away. Lloris was called into action again from the resulting loose ball as Jos Hooiveld headed right into his arms.
The second half was more of the same from both clubs. Tottenham just could not put anything together. The removal of Aaron Lennon removed any width that Spurs had. The diminutive winger was replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor who played alright, but didn't really do much.
The breakthrough finally came when Gareth Bale did what Gareth Bale does. He cut in from the right hand side, dribbled along the top of the penalty area and then unleashed a vicious strike into the bottom corner of the net that just beat a diving Artur Boruc.
Let's be honest. Tottenham were outplayed in this match. They labored for the entire match, but when it came down to it, Gareth Bale, as he so often does, put the Tottenham squad on his back and kept Champions League hopes alive. The major worry coming out of this game is that Dembele went off injured for the second match in a row and if both he and Scott Parker are not fit for Chelsea Spurs could be in trouble.
A few quick observations:
- With no Scott Parker, I didn't know where to direct my yelling during the match.
- I figured out who to yell at after a few minutes: Clint Dempsey.
- Wow, was Dempsey bad. 62% pass completion. Defoe and Lennon were also very wasteful with their passing.
- Jan Vertonghen was amazeballs. Five tackles, four interceptions, thirteen clearances coupled with 85% pass completion makes for a pretty good day at the office.
- Hugo Lloris' save on that Lambert free kick was very good.
- We're in trouble against Chelsea (or any team) if we play like that again this season.