Serge Aurier and Dusan Tadic battle for the ball during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham: battle of the right

Our right wing was the focus for both managers trying to gain the upper hand as it ended Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in our Premier League clash.

The battle of the Mauricios ended Southampton 1-1 Tottenham as each sought to gain the upper hand on our right flank. Pellegrino kept Dusan Tadic high looking to cheat behind Serge Aurier. Pochettino wanted to release Aurier down the flank as Moussa Sissoko drew Ryan Bertrand infield. It made for a fascinating contest.

Battle of the right

The opening stanza of the match was fought on our right flank.

Mauricio Pellegrino was gambling on springing a player beyond our high line. To achieve this he kept Dusan Tadic high as he tried to cheat to get behind Serge Aurier. Any time Southampton won the ball, Tadic was off from a very high starting position looking to get down the flank and cross.

JWP wins the ball and Tadic is off from his high starting position during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

JWP wins the ball and Tadic is off from his high starting position.

Tadic had good success at doing this to achieve Southampton’s crossing based attack. He was caught offside, but also fed some good early low crosses across the box, one that was whiffed on by Manolo Gabbiadini.

In direct response to this, as can be seen in the image above, Serge Aurier was looking to attack the other way. With Tadic having no defensive responsibilities, Aurier and Sissoko we left two versus one against Ryan Bertrand.

Moussa Sissoko drifted infield in order to drag Bertrand towards him. Aurier was therefore left to attack the space that appeared down the flank.

Narrow Sissoko draws Bertrand creating space for Aurier during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Narrow Sissoko draws Bertrand creating space for Aurier.

Aurier’s crossing has been the subject of much debate recently. Again, he failed to deliver any telling balls in to good areas. Harry Kane took down Aurier’s most dangerous ball in to the box. Kane then laid it off for Ben Davies whose cross was diverted wide of the post by Moussa Sissoko with the goal gaping.

Southampton wins the first battle

Southampton took the lead through their attack down our right being the more successful. A turnover in midfield was swiftly moved out to Tadic. Sissoko was caught in-field. Aurier now had a dilemma at being two versus one against Tadic and Bertrand.

Tadic and Bertrand attack Aurier during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Tadic and Bertrand attack Aurier.

Using the heavy surface, Tadic could over hit his pass knowing it would hold up for the streaking Bertrand on the overlap. Davinson Sanchez was caught on his heels. As he slid to cut out Bertrand’s cross, he was a fraction late. The ball was deflected in off the near post and Southampton had the lead.

Tottenham corners count

Whilst the final ball of Tottenham’s attacks down the right was poor, the corner count was not. Spurs won four corners prior to going behind. The fifth, won from attacking down our right, saw us back on level terms.

Eric Dier had come closest when he struck the post before Harry Kane notched his 99th Premier League goal.

Southampton had struggled to defend corners. One of their issues had been bodies in front of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy that had prevented him from coming to punch clear. As Harry Kane bullied past his marker Jack Stephens, McCarthy was again faced with a mass of bodies, a number of which were his own teammates.

Mass traffic in front of McCarthy stops him challenging for the ball during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Mass traffic in front of McCarthy stops him challenging.

After fighting off Stephens, Kane had a running start and could tower over Manolo Gabbiadini’s standing jump to head home. So quick to respond the score was now Southampton 1-1 Tottenham and we were back on level terms.

Stretched Dembele

Christian Eriksen buzzing between the lines usually transitions the ball from defensive to attacking midfield. Without the Dane through illness, Mousa Dembele was tasked with this job. Used to resisting pressure, spinning away and laying the ball off, Dembele was stretched with the amount of ground he now needed to cover. The result was a lack of transitioning the ball through midfield and a whole host of fouls as Dembele rushed to get back in to defensive shape.

The ploy didn’t really work and interestingly Pochettino changed shapes twice in the second half to try and solve this problem.

Tinker tactics

At half time with the score Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Pochettino opted to change the formation. Son Heung-Min was shifted up with Harry Kane and we went with a diamond midfield.

Eric Dier sat at the base. Mousa Dembele at the left point. Moussa Sissoko at the right point and Dele Alli as the number ten.

Spurs diamond midfield during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Spurs diamond midfield.

The formation gave Southampton a problem, as their full backs didn’t have a direct opponent to mark. As a result, they narrowed up and shifted to a 4-5-1 formation so as not to be overrun in the middle of the pitch.

Narrow Saints combat Spurs diamond setup during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Narrow Saints combat Spurs diamond setup.

Pochettino’s response was to introduce Erik Lamela for Son Heung-Min and change to a 4-3-2-1 formation. Lamela and Dele sat just behind Harry Kane as Pochettino tried to go all out to overpower in the centre of the pitch.

4-3-2-1 formation during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

4-3-2-1 formation during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham.

Big chances via formations

Each team then had great chances to win the game via their set up.

Southampton was able to spring Tadic in-behind from a turnover of possession to fire in a low cross. Newly introduced Michael Obafemi couldn’t handle the ball skidding off the slick surface to finish on his debut.

At the other end, Tottenham’s new formation was designed to punch through the inside channels with Lamela and Dele floating in these off Harry Kane.

Moussa Sissoko rumbled through the inside left channel to create the first great chance. Unfortunately, Erik Lamela took a touch and too much time when Sissoko’s short cut back arrived at his feet.

In the dying seconds the ultra-reliable Harry Kane had the chance he’d been waiting for. Dele Alli set him in through the inside right channel as the pair navigated the central congestion brilliantly.

Kane gets down the outside of the central congestion to shoot during Southampton 1-1 Tottenham in the Premier League.

Kane gets down the outside of the central congestion.

However, Kane scuffed his left foot shot just past the post and the win went with it. The match ended Southampton 1-1 Tottenham with two valuable Premier League points dropped.

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham overall

With a flu virus in the camp accounting for the loss of Christian Eriksen we were lacking the usual shot in the arm that he brings. Our typical crisp passing combinations and fast ball movement were just not there. If his absence didn’t highlight once again the one type of player we need this transfer window, nothing will.

Mauricio Pochettino had tried to mitigate the loss of Eriksen through Mousa Dembele. However, as Pochettino sought to tinker with the formation to find the rhythm that Eriksen brings, he failed to find the answer. Substitutions were again an issue. Even more so given he was forced to burn one with Aurier’s injury.

Two points dropped on a weekend when we could have gained ground on fourth placed Liverpool. What’s more, we have three tricky Premier League fixtures upcoming against our rivals in the table that will make or break our season.

Final score: Southampton 1-1 Tottenham.
MOTM: Jan Vertonghen.

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4 Responses to Southampton 1-1 Tottenham: battle of the right

  1. Mark from Virginia 23rd January 2018 at 6:23 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    I love reading your post game analysis! Very frustrating game, big success for Southampton though – It seemed evident to me that Southampton were keen on intercepting square balls and shutting down the inside runs – essentially negating Son – did you notice this? Spurs looked much more effective when they started passing vertically, unfortunately they didn’t convert the handful of chances they had.
    You and I have discussed the Eriksen dilemma for a couple seasons now. I believe he is one of the most if not the most important player in the squad and a back up is sorely needed as has been the case for quite a while. Hopefully this will be address soon!
    I also thought Lamella should have come on around 60 min – 70 min was a bit late for that change. I also thought Lorente could have come on for Aurier and either Dier or Sissoko could have played on the right. This would have provided a presence to occupy the defense freeing up Kane. One of the frustrating things when Trippier came on was how he was ignored. More than a few times he was on the touch line in space eager for the ball which never came. It’s almost as if the team were avoiding him.
    Thanks again!!!!
    Mark from Virginia

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th January 2018 at 12:03 am #

      Hi Mark, Southampton did seem very keen on blocking out the centre. Bertrand playing Sissoko highlighted this. In the first half it was more of a medium block that challenged the ball as it entered the middle third. In the second half it dropped to be a much lower block as they went 4-5-1. Good spot as Southampton did cut out a lot of square balls and Son did have a quiet game.

      The Eriksen issue continues to haunt us. Kane’s Goals are irreplaceable, as is Eriksen’s creativity and guile. Something has to be done in this window or the summer as we simply can’t go on like this!

      The Trippier situation was strange as I saw a number of players look him off too when he was in good positions. It was weird given that crossing would have been a good way to loosen up all the Southampton bodies trying to jam up the centre of the pitch. Not sure what the reason was? Maybe some of the squad have lost faith in him and that’s why Aurier has been playing?

  2. brian 23rd January 2018 at 10:56 pm #

    Hi Mark

    Once again a very good anylsis of the game me old mate.And althought we did not play to our potential.We created enough chances to win the game.So to be perfectly blunt,as with many of the other draws we have fashioned this season.If one does not take ones opportunities,when they come around.You get what you deserve.I know this is rather a harsh view.But thats what being, aT ottenham Supporter is all about,in all honesty

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th January 2018 at 12:28 am #

      Hi Brian, we did create some decent chances and probably edged it on quality. The Kane and Sissoko ones were our best, but thought Southampton had some good opportunities too eg Stephens’ header and Obafemi chance. Spot on that we got what we deserved though.