Tottenham Home Drew 3 – 3
Sulemana didn’t make the starting team against Tottenham, and neither did any other January window acquisitions – in fact two didn’t even make the 20 man squad. A return to the XI for Lavia at least meant three of the season’s new signings did start, but even that is a damning indictment of our recruitment strategy. After seven minutes, the number was down to two as Bella-Kotchap went off holding his shoulder, but he wasn’t the first casualty in a first half of two substitutions per side, and none as the result of tackles. First to go had been Richarlison who suddenly sat down in the centre circle before being helped to the sidelines, and later Bednarek attempted to carry on after injury but soon pulled up again and had to be replaced by Maitland-Niles as centre back. Completing the set was Davies for Spurs so no surprise that we had seven minutes added time, and not too much of a surprise that the Southampton defence failed to see them out. No-one seemed to be at home at left back when visiting wing back Porro fired into the roof of the net so blame needs to be apportioned; TV showed Perraud reluctantly forced inside to guard Kane while Elyounoussi was seen ambling rather than galloping back to cover. Here we go again, then, but Saints hit back within a couple of minutes of the restart with a rather good goal, started by Lavia’s threaded pass to set Walcott free, and continued by a low cross finished by Adams. All square, but Saints play a zonal defence and ended up with Maitland-Niles having to cover Kane as he tried to get on the end of Kulusevski’s cross, and that wasn’t an equal contest. The home team’s plight became dire when Perišić shot into the ground and the bounce took the ball past Bazunu. JW-P gathered his troops together for an intra-game huddle: he might have been saying ‘this could get ugly, so make sure we don’t let in five or six’ but the way the game played out suggests something more positive, helped by impact subs Sulemana and Mara, who were already on the pitch. Antonio Conte’s post-match rant blamed everyone at Tottenham (except himself) for the way the game played out, started by Walcott‘s goal following an unexpectedly good header down by Mara. Sulemana and Mara’s fresh legs were now causing all sorts of problems but Forster was proving a difficult obstacle. He was eventually beaten by Ward-Prowse from the spot thanks to referee Hooper seeing a foul on Maitland-Niles by Sarr as he tried to clear; the VAR official upheld a decision that he probably wouldn’t have given alone. Good game for Saints to go on to win, but it was Lenglet who came closest to breaking the deadlock with the last action of an eventful game.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
22. Mohammed Salisu, on for AB-K. A long time since he’s featured, but he can look good when he manages not to do anything stupid.
32. Theo Walcott. A goal and assist, and also a fine all-round performance.
45. Romeo Lavia. We were helped by a full 90 minutes from him.