So it’s silverware now, I guess. This was simply a game that in this campaign, when the differences between the six Haves and the fourteen Have Nots have never been larger, Spurs could and should not have lost. But it was squandered from start to finish and a truly team effort—or lack thereof. I guess the two “Vs”—Vorm and Vertonghen—acquitted themselves well but no one else did.
The fact that the Saints got a decent chance within 15 seconds should have been a warning sign. Serge Aurier messing up multiple throw-ins was another indicator that this side was not prepared to dig deep for a win. On the Saints goal, Aurier was caught upfield, Sissoko failed to adequately cover and poor Sanchez missed his mark by inches and suffered the embarrassment of an own goal. But be honest—Southampton had chances throughout, our defence was leaky and so was the midfield. The Saints pressed hard from the beginning and Spurs never looked entirely comfortable trying to bring the ball out from the back.
But once we did flip the field is where the problems really began. Son was bullied throughout and was a shadow of the player we’ve seen in recent weeks. Dele was at his heavy touch wasteful worst—the effort was there but the decision-making was often absurd. Sissoko and Dier each squandered numerous opportunities to find a teammate in space and motion toward the goal. Aurier was curiously passive on most of the occasions when he did receive the ball in space before leaving injured. Kane was far from his best. Dembele was back to his frustrating self— controlling the ball and commanding the midfield only to have it go for naught—once he even attempted to break through the Saints defence in a 1 v 4 situation. Wanyama and Lamela added some spark though near the end Wanyama attempted a ridiculous 25 yard shot and on the final possession, with but 35-40 seconds remaining before time, rather than advancing the ball forward for one last thrust, Lamela pirouetted and lost the ball entirely.
Never has Christian Eriksen’s value to this side been so obvious. And now there is no more margin for error. Any Top Four chance rests on sweeping all opposition at Wembley, including both Manchester clubs and Arsenal, and earning at least one result at Liverpool or Chelsea. Anything short of that—and any further stumble against a bottom-feeder will certainly doom us to fifth place. Juventus and the FA Cup now must take prominence— but the run of games starting next week will be brutal. We’ll know soon enough if the Poch project will continue a pace, or whether, as now seems likely, this will be a retrenchment with the new ground beckoning.
Spurs were simply not good enough today. Their primary competition have had similar struggles the past month—the difference is we’ve already lost four of five to those teams head-to-head. Maybe we should have paid more attention to what those results really meant.
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