Southampton V Tottenham Hotspur The Verdict
Wednesday, 29th Dec 2021 10:23
It might not have been a win, but it felt like it at the final whistle after Saints had dug in and gained an unlikely looking point after going down to 10 men in the 39th minute when Mohammed Salisu was sent off.
When the team was announced an hour before kick off there weren't many Saints fans who felt confident of a result of any sort, not in the team or even on the bench were Che Adams, Tino Livramento, Lyanco, Jack Stephens, Moussa Djenepo & Will Smallbone, suggesting that Covid 19 is hitting the squad, add to that that Oriol Romeu, Moi Elyounoussi and Armando Broja were on the bench, presumably rested due to the number of games in quick succession and hopes were not high pre match.
But from the start it was clear that although it was a patched up team, there was a spirit in it that will surely see us through this season, a few weeks ago some ranted after a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal taking no account of the fact that in that game we had lost the spine of the team to injury and the Gunners were in fine form, they questioned Ralph Hasenhuttl and the quality and the commitment of his squad.
But at West Ham and again at Spurs it was clear that this was a squad playing for it's manager, Spurs were their usual showboating selves relying on Son Heung Ming and Harry Kane to carry them through.
But Saints matched skill against their own spirit and were winning the battle as half time approached and they led 1-0 thanks to a stunning strike from James Ward Prowse in the 25th minute, he played a captain's game and ran the midfield in the first half.
But things changed in the 39th minute, we got caught out and Son was through and brought down by Salisu who having already been booked for a second yellow, that was a fair decision, or would have been if he hadn't been booked earlier for a tackle that did not deserve a free kick against him let alone a yellow.
It was now going to be backs to the wall after the break and every man played a part, non more than Shane Long, who did what Shane Long does well, he held the ball up, he harassed the Spurs back line and he drew free kicks that got us up the field and brought us time. But more importantly he knew where he should be on the pitch, he read the game and saw a lot of the ball.
When he went off, Saints lost something up front, Broja is of course a better player than Long, but he is a different type of player, Broja didn't have the guile of Long and often chased shadows, it wasn't his sort of game from a defensive perspective, but he did offer us an attacking option and this nearly paid off when he almost won it at the death.
There are those who give Shane Long no credit, they ask why he is still at the club, but they were silenced after this performance, he offered us depth at a time when we were missing 6 outfield players through injury with another 3 rested.
Yes he is no longer a first choice, but he can do a job and this was the type of game you needed him, a year ago we were playing kids.
Likewise Yan Valery, three years ago he looked to have a great future at the club, but then something went wrong and he lost his way, but form is temporary, class is permanent and Valery stepped up to the plate for his first Premier League appearance of the season, he was solid at right back and then after we went down to 10 men and he was pressed into action as a centre back, he put in a sterling performance.
So it was backs to the wall for Saints and everyman did their duty, yes we had to ride our luck, Harry Kane was centimetres offside for his disallowed effort and on another day the foul on Fraser Forster might not have been given, but it was a foul, the Spurs player barged into him, in any other area of the field it would have been given so the ref or VAR did get that right.
For obvious reasons Spurs had a lot of possession, but they lacked any sort of real quality and any other options other than trying to get the ball to Kane or Son, that meant that they played into Saints hands and they found a wall of red & white stripes that they rarely got through after Kane's early disallowed effort in the second half.
If they did get a shot in then Fraser Forster looked solid, making 10 saves, the most by a keeper to not end on the losing side in the Premier League this season.
But it was not just his saves it was his overall play, he came out of his box to clear on a number of occasions and dealt with crosses with confidence.
It was a nervy second half and one that seemed to go on for ever, but this was a game you go to football for, to see your team put in a great performance, on that matter great performances don't always have to be wins, sometimes like this game, they are in adversity and a draw in this case was a fair result, we could have collapsed, but we didn't, yes we rode our luck, but we also made that luck by our never say die attitude, our 100 % commitment and a spirit in the squad that is down to the manager.
As mentioned we almost won it late on, but for that matter Spurs had decent chances in injury time as well, they kept at us right to the end.
Ironically when the final whistle went such was the relief and celebration, most didn't notice that the cleared ball was picked up by Broja who in the centre circle had a clear run at goal, sadly Antony Taylor who seemed to want to keep the game going past the announced 5 minutes to give Spurs every chance to score did notice and seemingly did not want further controversy if Broja had gone on and scored so blew for full time.
A couple of weeks ago we travelled to Crystal Palace for the start of three tricky games that some would say we would struggle to get a single point from, we have come through with 5 and can take great satisfaction from as all three games saw patched up sides and were won by sheer graft and spirit.
That augurs well for the second half of the season, we have never really got going in the first half, we haven't beaten anyone with ease, haven't truly found our form, but we have 21 points from those 19 games and if we repeat this in the next 4 months or so then we will be safely in mid table and not looking over our shoulders.
As it is we are up there with Brighton and Brentford, teams who have been supposedly in great form and above Everton who were being tipped to break into the top six.
Only 1 point behind Aston Villa whom Danny Ings joined for the challenge.
But if we can get everyone fit and firing on all cylinders then it could be a decent second half of the season, the squad is bigger and better than a year ago, yes it does need a couple of additions to truly give it the icing on the cake, but it has potential.
This was a day when it made you proud to be a Saints fan, sadly in the Premier League these days, every day can't be like that, we have to go through more disappointing days than great ones, but when a result like this is obtained it makes all the bad days worthwhile.
It's a roller coaster ride with Saints it always has been, the past though is in the past, it is only the future that is unwritten, a few good results in the second half of the season and we can still make it the best one since Claude Puel took us to 8th 5 years ago.
Photo: Action Images
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|wessexman added 10:41 - Dec 29|
This was a definite win. Spurs and the ref epitomised all which is wrong with the Premier league. Moneybags clubs will always prevail. Yes, Spurs were unlucky the Forster blunder was disallowed but they also deserved their hard luck. The cheating, the diving and their gamesmanship was breath taking. Of course the England captain is beyond reproach....really? Also.....in any normal walk of life, the ref would be sacked. Spurs will find the definition of sympathy in the dictionary between s@*& and syphilis.
|Boris1977 added 10:50 - Dec 29|
Where did that determined performance come from? Players with something to prove? Regardless, always one of the most rewarding feelings getting a result against the north London yobbos.
Great to see Shane long back on the pitch and have to credit him with playing his usual pestering game and his professional in remaining match fit despite not playing first team football for some time.
Was this performance down to Ralph or Ralph? It's hard to know but Ralph still needs to demonstrate he learns with every game rather than take 1 step forward and two back. The changes made yesterday to the starting 11 were to various degrees enforced but Ralph should get credit for the brave changes made. Now he needs to show similarly canny selections when a full squad is available to convince the doubters that he knows this squad well and not leave selections to chance which there has been more than a whiff of for some time. Maybe we can invest in a strong character to act as his assistant rather than waste funds on chancy January player purchases.
For the first time in a long time I was proud of the team yesterday - but this grit and determination needs to remain for more than a few games - it needs to be a defining feature if we are to push on and meet the potential within this team. Over to you Ralph. COYRs
|ElijahK added 10:57 - Dec 29|
Well it’s games like this and West Ham which make up for the poor results like Norwich, as well as showing that Ralph is the man for the job, as when the second half kicked off everyone was kicking off about how Valero was now a centre half, and how he’d made no changes, etc, yet those were proven to be decent decisions by the end result.
But there are also some decent displays in there today, as I thought Forster was decent, although his blunder (which should’ve been ruled out, but sometimes isn’t) could’ve cost us and his kicking was dreadful as per usual (so if we do get this new owner then we really need a new number 1 like that West Brom keeper, and should just have Forster/McCarthy in the bench), but Valery was also really good, especially seeing of how he wasn’t even in his usual position, and Prowse really has shut up all those complainers with some of his recent performances, as well as giving Southgate a bit more of a harder decision to make.
Great display off of the lads and Ralph today, and if we can play Newcastle at home on Sunday, then I sure do think we can grab another win there.
|SaintNick added 11:00 - Dec 29|
The gritty performance has been there since the Palace game, continued at West Ham and yesterday.
|FrankSaint added 11:08 - Dec 29|
It's worth noting that in these last three games Saints have shown they are able to set themselves up to match each opponent. We are changing formation and changing personnel to suit without losing consistency. And in this last game the players actually looked fresher after playing differently each week. And the togetherness across the squad was great to see too. None of our players looked disinterested or acted like a prima donna. This flexibility across the squad also augurs well for the rest of the season. COYRs. But, we do need to be a bit more controlled with our enthusiasm in the pressing. And that goes for many players, not just Salisu. Hopefully, that will come with practice.
|131153 added 11:26 - Dec 29|
I did walk out feeling like a victory last night. I couldn't believe the first half display by the yelping and diving Spurs players really did feel they conned the ref. I felt the actual first MS booking could have gone either way he really took the booking because of his previous fouls. Obviously pleased we got the rub of the green with the FF foul, and the offside decision. It's always galling to see all the reports generally carry on about Spurs failings rather than our performance.
I reckon most fans of the 14 clubs will feel pleased on how it went last night.
|theralpholution added 11:39 - Dec 29|
A really impressive performance which shows that Saints did some excellent work during the transfer window to strengthen the whole squad and to ensure that we're not relying on the youth team as we were this time last year.
What was most impressive was the way in which players who are not playing regularly come into the side and immediately know their duties so whether it was first half with 10 or second with 11 everyone knew what to do, which is a testament to Ralph's coaching. As for the side he picked, he ensured the team was fresh and they easily outran as well as outplayed the Tottenham team.
Saints pressed them from the off and were quick into challenges. Unfortunately Salisu was a bit over the top and his red only seemed a matter of time. He's a great player but there's a fine line between guarding a player and going through a player to get to the ball. His enthusiasm was his downfall yesterday.
Kane's disallowed effort looked a goal to me as did Forster's fumble but some days it goes your way and some it doesn't. I look at this squad and think what progress has been made. They are all hard working and play some really good football. Long may it continue.
|Colburn added 11:56 - Dec 29|
Incredible spirit, phenomenal efforts by all to grab a point which we wouldn't have if this game was at any point of Ralph's tenure. The recent progress, understanding and putting into practice game plans whilst fighting for their manager, the players deserve huge credit. Playing on the front foot against whoever shows against us is certainly the best way moving forward. We were magnificent in the first half and Spurs were visibly shocked by what they encountered.
The only part of this verdict I would disagree with is the challenge on Forster by Doherty which was not a foul in my book. If that was one of ours challenging with Lloris, we would have gone into meltdown.. But he and we deserved that bit of luck considering we were denied in a similar situation last season when Romeu breathed near a keeper and we were denied a goal. In addition, the ref was such a Spurs fan in the first half, I was waiting for him to reveal a cockerel tattoo at some point.. Total disgrace of a performance from a regularly weak minded ref. Aside from that incident, Forster showed why he should be first choice between the sticks because he carries a presence, knows how to narrow an angle and make himself big. His distribution is also the best of the keepers we have, so it's a no brainer for me to keep him in he side when all are fit and the defence just looks more assured and confident in front of him.
Special mention for Valery who stepped in from the cold for a really tough fixture and then had to play a variety of roles during the game. He was superb and as you say Nick, class is permanent and another player who looks focused and ready to fight for the cause. Delighted for him. Also fair play to Longy, worked tirelessly as ever and gave the respite required with his determination. Finally pleased to see Bedders have an improved game defensively and helping the unusual back 4 through the second half with his experience.
Let's hope Sundays game goes ahead whilst we're in a good groove! A win takes away virtually all fears of the dro and can allow us to have a proper go for the remainder.
|Colburn added 12:05 - Dec 29|
Also we'll done Diallo, went about his business really well, tackled and fouled at the right time and read many situations perfectly, it didn't feel like we were lacking in the centre mid. Great to see
|landsdownsaint added 12:27 - Dec 29|
Apart from Adkins we haven’t had a manager who is truly dedicated to our cause than Ralph I know he makes some wierd decisions & tactis are sometimes suspect but that team played their hearts out for him yesterday so that tells me things ain’t too bad at saints , regards Salisu he really is the real deal & with Ralph he’s going too the very top ! Maybe for Salisu own progression that may have been the best thing too happen too him yesterday
|highfield49 added 12:45 - Dec 29|
As has been noted there is a new spirit in the team that has been lacking for some time. Man of the match for me was Valery who epitomised the grit and determination of the team as a whole. Diallo also demonstrated that he has a lot to offer in the future and playing a left back at left back seemed to work pretty well too.
The refereeing again demonstrated that the standard of officials needs improvement even though we benefitted on occasion. I still have no idea why KWP was booked for apparently daring to be in the vicinity of a diving whingeing Spurs cheat.
Sadly I think Newcastle will get their way and have the weekend fixture called off because they have players injured rather than a covid issue. If only we'd been allowed to pull that flanker when we had a decimated team playing Manure then one of the 9-0 defeats wouldn't be on the record books. I'm just so delighted that we don't have the bleating Eddie Howe at St Mary's, time for him to grow a pair.
|TimSaint added 12:46 - Dec 29|
It doesn't matter if it was an inch or a yard, Kane was offside so no goal.
Doherty barged in to FF - foul all day long. It was more a shock that the ref gave the foul, as he'd given Spurs the rub of the green all match.
People need to start remembering the shit decisions we've had this season, before they say that FF got away with one, or that Kane wasn't offside.
Anyone remember the worst one - Kyle Walker 'challenge' on A Armstrong - red card and pen to Saints, until VAR said, we can't do that to City at the Etihad, so reversed it !!
If VAR was doing it's job, then Kane would have been suspended for this game anyway, after the straight red he should have got v Liverpool. They were quick enough to upgrade JWP's similar challenge to a red card v Chelsea, but wouldn't dare even considering doing the same to England's Captain.
It was a great battling performance with a makeshift side yesterday, against not only the odds and the ref, but the diving, screaming, cheating, in the ref's ear, utterly deplorable b@stards that are THFC.
|1962saint added 12:57 - Dec 29|
A very good Xmas – 4 points from games that could have been predicted to yield nil points.
It would be nice to play Newcastle on Sunday who are likely be without their 2 top scorers but I fear they will play the COVID card and get the match postponed. By the time it is rearranged they will have had time to use the January window to invest the Saudi funds.
Yesterday’s game was most encouraging with Saints really up for it and challenging strongly for every ball. Some of the challenges were robust but the antics of the Spurs players coupled with weak refereeing resulted in us getting penalised time and time again when a similar challenge by the opposition went unpunished.
It has been stated that Kane was unlucky to have his goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision but it can be argued that he shouldn’t have even been playing. Against Liverpool he made a bad tackle that was a clear red card and yet VAR failed to upgrade from the yellow card decision. Had they done so he would have had a 3 game ban with the last on being served yesterday. Ward-Prowse had an identical incident v Chelsea when the yellow was upgraded to a red. Had he been the England captain he would have been OK!
|davidargyll added 13:18 - Dec 29|
From all the comments on here, I am definitely not alone in thinking that, in the last three games, evidence has appeared to show that there really is something nice bubbling under at the Club right now.
This forum has been full of criticism of Ralph, his tactics, his team selections, his substitutions, his comments, the fact that he even dares to be anywhere near the club, all mainly from people who seem to bleat on about having supported the Saints for a hundred years and have never seen it so bad and how we are sleep walking in to the Championship etc.
But last night surely even the most hardened pessimists saw something we can all be proud of.
Overall, what I saw yesterday, despite the changes from a couple of days ago, was a wholly different mindset, one which said to Spurs we are not going to give you one inch, no pissing around trying to be clever in defence, just good hard graft. OK, so the Salisu incident was silly but I think we can put that down to a spur-of-the-moment over-enthusiasm. And yes we had a lot of luck on our side in the second half but the way we managed the game, we thoroughly deserved the point.
I thought Ralph’s substitutes, especially their timing, were nothing short of brilliant. Broja coming on with 20 minutes to go to replace Shane Long, - who I don’t think any of us have seen work quite so hard to really piss off the Spurs defence - and then cause them real havoc towards the end was a stroke of genius. And Nathan R continuing what Adam A had been doing so well, ie really harrying their number 12 and allowing him hardly any crossing room at all.
Of the others, Roman Perraud — who’s always been a bit in and out - regardless that we were down to 10 men, excelled and was still trying as hard as he could to push the ball forward.
And as for Valery, Christ what was he on? ! Amazing performance, really fighting for everything, I couldn’t believe this ugly duckling from 18 months ago has turned into a hard-as-nails swan.
In fact I could go on about the entire team, from FF to JWP - what an absolute blinder of a goal - to SA, how every manjack of them seemed to prepared to almost die for the club - in fact I thought at one moment that KWP nearly did - but they were all wonderful.
I am sure the entire 31,000-odd left SMG last night thinking, “My God we really do have team here, in this squad and Ralph we trust and to all you anti-Ralphers, it’s about time you all just crawl back into your holes and die!!!”
(PS One final thought, maybe last night puts into context how, playing against 10-man Brighton was never going to be quite the stroll in the park we all thought it should have been.)
|worksopsaint added 13:19 - Dec 29|
Shane Long. Not withstanding his fabulous 7 second goal at Watford or the magnificent winner at Anfield in the league cup his tenure with us disappoints and frustrates many supporters. His 27 league goals gives a poor return of 1 in 7 and none in the last two seasons. Yes Nick he can give us advantage by holding the ball up and he can harass the opposition but he can’t cross a ball, rarely scores with his head , some of his misses have been truly embarrassing ; he missed the only penalty I recall him taking ( Middlesborough away) and his runs and hard work often end in nothing. From a forward I expect more goals and judge his career accordingly.
|davidargyll added 13:24 - Dec 29|
PPS. KWP without Tino, is there a message there…?
|Jellybaby added 13:29 - Dec 29|
It's nice to feel really proud of the team, yes we rode our luck, but this was a lion hearted performance and for that reason we deserved a point. Love KWP, always need to find room for him in the team.
|WestSussexSaint added 13:40 - Dec 29|
I thought a few weeks ago that Ralph had lost the squad. His public calling out of McCarthy for the late equaliser against Brighton suggested a man that felt his players no longer believed in his tactics. When that happens the inevitable conclusion is that results drop off and the manager is sacked.
Well I think the last couple of games have put that view to bed. The spirit and fight in the whole squad has been there to see. Ralph has changed tactics and players to match the demands and no matter who has started or come on they have all played their part.
Salisu’s red card was almost inevitable. He was over enthusiastic in almost every challenge so while the first booked was harsh it was only because he had already been warned. He is young and will learn there is a fine line between strong committed play and dicing with a card happy ref.
JWP has put in a captain’s performance and his goal yesterday was sublime. MOTM for me was Yan Valery. Despite the inexperience playing centre half especially as a pair rather than a 3 he was assured and managed the likes of Son well. Call outs also for Bednarek who stepped up as a senior pro and was communicating well with his young partner at the back, also for KWP who was determined to show his former team that they made the mistake letting him go.
So while 2021 overall has been patchy at best in terms of performances and results we have ended it on a high with momentum that we can carry into 2022. UTS.
|Block8 added 13:47 - Dec 29|
Not much to say that hasn't been said already except it is great to see us change our formation to suit the opposition. We stopped Tottenham counter attacking from the very start, with neither Son or Alli getting behind our full backs. A sterling effort and a headache for Ralph over team selection that he will be pleased about.
As for Spurs, if that hadn't spent upwards of £100 million trying to replace a FB, they sold to us for £12 million, they may have been able to replace Eriksen!!!
|underweststand added 14:05 - Dec 29|
The referees decision is final. No matter how many times Spurs fans will claim otherwise.
This time we got the rub of the green with VAR. and even "ex-pert refs." didn't agree Clattenburg going our way, whilst Halsey had doubts. Difficult to be subjective isn't it.
In my book any team with the resources / playing staff that Spurs have should feel ashamed after playing against 10 men for 50 minutes and still be unable to win.
For Saints, one of the best " fighting " performances I can recall in recent years where we looked the better side even if we didn't score again. Adam Armstrong did a shift as extra full back and deserved praise along with Forster who must have Ralph thinking about who is his best keeper. Yan Valery did well as CB and the returning Stuart Armstrong showed up well in midfield. Yellow card or not Walker-Peters showed exactly why Spurs were so daft to let him go.
JWP giving a real captain's role once again. Any striker in the Prem. would have been proud of his goal. WE all want to see our best side starting but - as if injuries aren't enough - Ralph will have to wait for Covid tests before picking his side for Sunday.
|saintpete01 added 14:09 - Dec 29|
I’ve come in from the dark side today
With egg on my face
I’ll 100% give you full credit today Ralph for your
Substitutions and getting the lads up for such a passionate
Performance they certainly played there hearts out for you
And the fans
But please please stick with Perraud he high class
|1teeminants added 15:16 - Dec 29|
A good report Nick. I found myself agreeing with every word of that which is not always the case 😃 but as you said on the forum recently, the wide range of differing views makes the forum special and it works well.
|wrathoftazz added 15:18 - Dec 29|
I can honestly say that was one of the only games where I haven't been still drinking at the kick off for the 2nd half, or made excuses to leave early.
Ralph made the right choices at the right time and the squad backed him. Whilst it is not enough to convince me of his ability to stay with Saints, I really do want to be proved wrong and start seeing consistency.
The only downside to the game was how Spuds spent longer on their backs, or going down faster than my ex wife.. they should be ashamed and the Pl should start stamping it out. It's not fun to watch and just makes the game a bit of a joke. You don't see the womans team rolling around on the floor, waiting for some magic water to be sprayed. It's embarrassing.
Let's hope the fire and desire continues, bring on the dirty northern &$^÷&# on the 2nd and see where we end up.
|DellBoyWally added 15:48 - Dec 29|
The decisions: The Kane offside was clearly offside. The decision was made to have thicker lines to remove the silly close calls (Ings hem on the shirt arm) Kane was 2ins beyond the thicker line so 100% offside.
A player jumping for a ball must make a genuine attempt to head the ball. Doherty tucked his head down and jumped backwards into FF. A clear foul. The surprise was that Taylor gave it. That decision caused me to up his match score to......1
Salisu! A great player in the making. But calm down Kiddo!!! But his first yellow should not have happened in a couple of counts. The Lillyshites player controlled the ball with his hand - free kick to us. Salisu didn't foul him! No free kick, no yellow.
But, clear penalty although Salisu should have just stood up, let Son run the ball out for a goal kick or let him shoot. He is well wide in the box and had little chance of scoring. It was FF in goal so the near post was safe!
For those who say it should have been straight red for denying a clear goalscoring chance....NO! You cannot be red carded when a penalty is awarded - double jeopardy. Only outside the box.
Shites committed only 5 goals all game!! Really?? Their LB committed more even before his violent assault on Shane. At least a yellow. But we didn't even get a free kick. Perhaps the ref missed it. Along with the linesman and VAR and 16 cameras!!!
With 11 on the pitch with Salisu being slightly less enthusiastic we would have won. We were so much better than them and you could see the worry on the faces of the manager and players. In fact the players were so distraught they needed to keep lying down howling!! In fact Ralph was carded for being too enthusiastic in his concern for the Shites mental state!
I'm not going to pick out any Saints player for special mention. As a group, everyone put in an incredible shift and the group as a whole deserves full credit. It's what one calls a team. Even afterwards the players on the bench celebrated the performance. Romeo's grin whilst hugging every player on the pitch was a sight to behold.
100% to Ralph for selection, tactics and game management. Even JoeEgg and the Eddie Howe Girls Club nor the anti anything Saints so called Saints supporters will have little to complain about.
|halftimeorange added 15:52 - Dec 29|
No doubt about it, this was a great team performance by Saints. As for Anthony Taylor, he's obviously been coached by either or both of Mike Dean and Jon Moss. He seemed determined to undermine our team to the benefit of the opposition. Apart from Spurs' players hurling themselves to the ground like extras in some Cecil B DeMille biblical epic war scene, he also chose to totally ignore the unabated haranguing of Harry Kane which continued throughout the match. I won't single out too many of our side for praise as they all deserved some but, Perraud is a decent left-back who can defend and attack and should retain his place and, if there was any doubt about Forster, it was dispelled yesterday with his positioning and general control of his six-yard box. Only his sliced kicking let him down. I was glad I ignored the weather and the lure of Amazon when I left home. This game confirmed why I always buy a season ticket.
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