Spurs Away Lost 4 -1
Summer transfer dealings left us with our erstwhile best goalkeeper sitting on the Tottenham bench for the opening match, while I suspect our current best keeper was sitting on ours as Bazuna joined other debutants Lavia and Aribo. Ralph confused fans by opting for an unbalanced back five with Walker-Peters as an orthodox full back and Djnepo as a wing back. Good play by Djnepo led to Saints taking an unexpected 12tth minute lead although it’s unlikely that his cross was meant to fall for Ward-Prowse to volley a rare open play goal. A sheer volume of defenders kept Kane and Son quiet, but too many crosses were being allowed, and that’s bad for two reasons: they deliver them very well and we’re hopeless at keeping them out. So it was on 21 minutes when Kulusevski (the new Christian Eriksen?) centred and Sessignon at the far post read it far better than Walker-Peters. It didn’t take long for Spurs to go ahead, this time a guided header by Dier from Son’s cross. Beleaguered Saints didn’t finish the half well, leading Ralph to make a double substitution at the break: Stuart Armstrong and Stephens on for Adam Armstrong and Valery, leaving Aribo on his own up front. It didn’t take long for that formation to be exposed – just a few seconds in fact when Sessignon found the net again, only to be flagged offside. A sticky end to the first half was continuing but there were signs of Saints getting back into the game only for a wonky few minutes to secure our place at the foot of the embryonic table. Salisu set it in motion by comically putting through his own goal just as Royal’s acute angle attempt was drifting wide, and then Kulusevski underlined his class by adding a fourth, and still with the best part of half an hour to play. It could have become seriously ugly, and a more ruthless Spurs could have made it so, meaning Southampton just about got out of the game with some of their dignity intact. At least we weren’t treated to that indescribable blue away kit as Saints wore some camouflage coloured outfit that seemed to work pretty well whenever play switched to the shadowy side of the stadium.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
7. Joe Ayodele-Aribo. He can be pleased enough with his debut in difficult circumstances, and left largely on his own for half of the game.
8. James Ward-Prowse. Our best player last season, and with a goal to start this campaign.
45. Roméo Lavia. He looked very impressive when allowed an attacking role in one of the pre-season games, but here he found himself just in front of the back line, allowing Romeu and Ward-Prowse to play further forward.