Frustrating. That’s the best word I can use to describe this match. Tottenham Hotspur traveled to Southampton to face a side that just defeated West Ham two days ago. Despite Mohammed Salisu picking up his second yellow of the match after a half hour, Spurs had two goals controversially called back by the match officials — one by Harry Kane that VAR waved off as offside, and a scruffy goal by Matt Doherty after a 50/50 challenge with Soton keeper Fraser Forster.
Tottenham weren’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not difficult to feel hard-done by after this match as Spurs couldn’t get it done with a man advantage. The final score was 1-1.
- Soton’s goal was annoying not least because Dele was fouled with no call in the lead up to the corner. But Ward-Prowse absolutely hammered that shot, and it’s not like Spurs deserved to be up at that point — they were pretty atrocious in that first half, and in general.
- Southampton can’t complain too much about the penalty and the second yellow — Salisu lunged in on Son and it was a clear-cut penalty and an even clearer second yellow. That turned the match on its head, though in retrospect it’s not hard to think that this is a match Spurs might have lost without that player advantage.
- That second half VAR offside call that waved off Kane’s goal was absolute garbage. Where they stopped to draw the lines, the ball had already left Winks’ foot, and if you make the lines two pixels smaller, Kane was clearly onside. It’s a ridiculous application of the rules.
- On the second disallowed goal — yes, there was contact between Doherty and Forster, but Forster never had control of the ball. Terrible call, and it should have stood, but it feels like keepers are always going to get more than the benefit of the doubt. Anthony Taylor was a mess today.
- There was a third called back goal on a Davies header in the first half, but that was clearly offside so there’s no need to get mad about that one.
- So we have to balance the anger we feel about the terrible officiating decisions with the knowledge that Tottenham were very bad overall. Sonny looked ponderous and off the boil, and his touch was poor. The Hojbjerg-Winks-Dele midfield never got going at all — Winks was frustrating as hell but did have some very, very good progressive passes, including the disallowed assist to Kane, and Hojbjerg was just in general not very good. Dele also looked slow; I wish he had played more in a midfield 3 like he did vs. Liverpool than in a more advanced role. They should’ve done much better.
- A related sub-point — this was a match that was desperately crying out for Tanguy Ndombele, and I’m annoyed Conte didn’t put him on.
- I think I understand the Doherty for Reguilon halftime substitution — the one thing Doherty does well is get into the box from wide positions, and Southampton let him do so on the regular. But his final touch was just awful. He’s the easiest upgrade Spurs can make this January.
- Conte is still undefeated in the Premier League with Tottenham, and that’s good. But you gotta think these were two points dropped, not one point earned.