Tottenham Hotspur Home Won 1 – 0
Eighteen days on from a damaging home defeat by struggling West Ham, a rejuvenated Southampton prepared to take on Tottenham in the New Year’s Day fixture, seven points better off, shortly to become ten. They were without Boufal, hopefully not as a result of another clash with his furniture, as Djenepo and Armstrong came into a side that has now recognised the benefits of working hard when not in possession and moving the ball quickly and with purpose when it comes their way. A goal on 17 minutes showed how that approach has rewards when Ings ran on to Stephens’ long ball forward; scoring from this situation took both skill and confidence and Ings supplied both with a manoeuvre that left Alderweireld on his backside and a left foot finish that caught Gazzaniga flat-footed. Kane, whom Spurs always rely on a lot and who usually obliges them against Saints, was kept quiet by the home centre backs, although a snap shot almost embarrassed McCarthy who seemed to have spilled it into the path of Alli, but then recovered to knock the ball away for a corner. This incident caused the first VAR referral of the afternoon, checking for an unlikely penalty, but Saints had hopes for a positive outcome for themselves when Stockley Park looked at how the ball struck Alderweireld’s hand after the break. The second half had begun with Redmond volleying a Soares cross over the bar, but mostly Saints were content to harry Spurs into errors as they searched for an equaliser. The visitors had the ball in the net when Kane stretched to tap home a free kick, only to find an offside flag against him. The decision was confirmed by VAR after a lengthy delay which was causing concern until word came through, and by now Kane had limped down the tunnel with a hamstring strain – Spurs’ hopes probably went with him. A caution for Ward-Prowse was an unfortunate consequence of the Kane offside incident as our most important midfielder is amassing a few disciplinary points, but the not-so-special one couldn’t come up with anything to disturb Southampton’s back line and Jose himself earned a caution too after an altercation with the home training staff. That rather summed up Tottenham’s afternoon, while a block tackle by Ward-Prowse that left JW-P striding forward and the physically bigger Sissoko rolling on the ground summed up Southampton’s.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jan Bednarek. Stephens and Højbjerg were also suggested, while I might have been tempted to choose Ings. A good idea to go for a defender, though, as this was a most timely first home clean sheet of the season.