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Saints reverted to their more orthodox defensive formation to face Spurs, and other than long terms injuries and the short term goalkeeping uncertainty, most fans seemed to believe it was the best XI available. As usual at St. Mary’s, Saints began with a flourish and Mané twice caused problems in the opening stages, including a side foot shot saved at full stretch by Loris. Indeed, there was not much to choose between the two sides for most of the opening half, until some quite inexplicably awful defending saw the visitors two up at the break and in a position to take control of the rest of the match – which they duly did. Ronnie described the play that led to the first goal as ‘amateur,’ but no amateur coach would have been happy with it either, as a series of missed tackles (one still so bad it earned a booking for Fonte) left Kane unchallenged and bearing down on goal for an easy finish. Although there weren’t as many culprits, you could say that the second goal minutes later was worse as Soares calmly let Walker’s low cross go past him and straight into the path of Alli who couldn’t believe his luck from three yards out. Saints were being out-muscled in midfield and the only surprise about Clasie’s withdrawal twelve minutes from the end was that he spent so long on the pitch, with Davis and Tadić sacrificed earlier to make way for Long and Juanmi López. Ward-Prowse was the last of Southampton’s substitutions and like Mané at the other end of the game, he too tested Loris with a sidefoot shot that really needed something firmer. There was still time for Gazzaniga to remind us that Forster’s return can’t come too soon as he made a hash of a clearance in added time and was fortunate not to be punished. In the last few weeks it’s been a question of too many errors, too few points – and Saints come up against in-form Arsenal next.

LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand – not just the best defender, but arguably the only one.


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