Tottenham Hotspur came from behind twice to earn a point in a 2-2 draw against Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium on Saturday. While Spurs weren't able to come away with the victory, overall the team played fairly well, and several players did enough to be given a shout for Man of the Match honors. But which one should earn the title? Here are our three candidates. Vote for your favorite in the poll below.
The Southampton match marks the second straight week that an EPL opponent has decided not to attempt to press Spurs off the pitch, and it also marks the second straight match that Nabil Bentaleb has completely bossed the midfield. This probably isn't a coincidence. Coming off of last week's outstanding performance against Newcastle, Bentaleb once again showed why he's one of the first names on the team sheet. Bentaleb gave spine to the midfield, successfully completing 76 (out of 84) passes and providing a defensive tenacity that belies his age. The midfield looked competent, and a lot of it was due to Bentaleb's positioning and vision, despite the fact that he's even better when he's not saddled with a lot of defensive responsibility. When given the freedom to cut loose, he's a monster, and he showed it again on Saturday.
After a horrendous opening 45 minutes against Newcastle last week, Erik Lamela has now put together three straight halves of solid football. His off the ball movement was excellent and he consistently stretched Southampton's back line and took up dangerous attacking positions. Although his equalizing goal may have bundled in off his arm, this "hand of god" is surely evidence that the Argentine is becoming Spurs own Maradona. His work rate continues to be a key feature of his game, and his contribution to the press is unequalled by Spurs' other wide options. After spending the last few months on the bench, Spurs fans can perhaps let themselves hope that this is the beginning of a revival for the 30m pound "flop".
There is a case for Eric Dier as our man of the match. While true that many of Southampton's best attacks originated on his side, our U-21 center back is just that – not a right back. Being singled out for less than desirable defensive shifts seems a bit harsh, and let's be honest, Dier has put in worse defensive shifts against lesser sides than Saints this year. He was far from an out and out train wreck, and deserves a mention for playing out of his preferred position.
As for his actual MotM credentials, Eric Dier created our two goals. Full stop. His cross which glanced off Harry Kane's princely forehead only to be turned home by Erik Lamela's arm (this isn't poking fun, he made a great run and was in good position), was a thing of beauty. The kind of shape and placement that gives opposing keepers fits. In fact, he put another two or three crosses of similar quality in throughout the course of the match. The final goal came out of the blue, honestly. While surveying his options a good 30 to 35 yards up the pitch, he spotted Nacer Chadli starting an incisive run. Dier weighted a perfect 25 yard through ball that the Belgian was able to take away from the defender and slot cooly past the keeper from a tight angle.
Eric Dier was far from perfect, but on the balance of his playing out of position and facilitating the two goals, he is the man of the match.