5 talking points from Tottenham’s 4-1 victory at Southampton
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Tottenham fell behind inside the opening two minutes at Southampton but battled back to win 4-1 against their 10-man hosts after two goals from Dele Alli and further efforts from Harry Kane and substitute Heung-Min Son. Here are five talking points.
1. A dozy start
Tottenham had the unusual luxury of a 10-day rest over Christmas, but the break seemed to have been a hindrance rather than a help in the opening stages. Instead of looking fresh and well-rested the visitors looked rusty and out of practice.
Victor Wanyama, who was making his return to Southampton after his summer transfer, committed an early and needless foul and Virgil van Dijk headed home from the ensuing free kick with just 79 seconds on the clock, scoring the fourth fastest goal of the Premier League season.
Toby Alderweireld’s absence – the Belgian was missing due to a virus – seemed to be a contributory factor as the Lilywhites plodded back to the halfway line less than two minutes after the kick-off.
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2. Another comeback
Spurs had fought back from a one-goal deficit to win their previous game against Burnley, when they triumphed 2-1 at White Hart Lane – and they responded again this time to secure their fifth victory from six matches.
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Like Van Dijk’s opener, the two goals that put Spurs ahead came from headers. Dele Alli leapt above the Saints defender to meet Moussa Sissoko’s deflected cross and level the scores and, after the interval, Harry Kane attacked Christian Eriksen’s corner and directed the ball clinically into the top right corner, scoring his first goal in four games.
3. Spurs’ luck with penalties runs out – but Saints are reduced to 10 men
Tottenham had a golden opportunity to take a 3-1 lead shortly after Kane’s 52nd-minute header and put the game to bed nice and early.
Sissoko burst forward before neatly playing in Alli, who was fouled from behind by Nathan Redmond as he shot, and referee Mike Dean promptly awarded a penalty – the seventh that Tottenham have been given in their last 13 games.
The previous six had all been converted, four of them by Kane – but this time the Lilywhites’ luck ran out. As the Spurs striker planted his left foot, it displaced the turf enough to raise the ball off the ground, resulting in a shot which flew well over the bar.
It was a missed opportunity, but Redmond was also shown a straight red card for his infringement so, while Spurs were initially unable to add to their one-goal lead, they at least got a numerical advantage from the incident.
They eventually ran away with the game and scored two late goals through substitute Heung-Min Son and Alli, who has now struck three times in two games.
4. Sissoko’s on song
Tottenham’s £30million summer signing made a slow start to life at White Hart Lane but he is now making the desired impact.
The Frenchman, who set up Danny Rose’s winner against Burnley before Christmas, was given a deserved start against Southampton and he justified his selection.
Sissoko set up the opening goal, albeit with the help of a deflection, and it was his pinpoint pass into Alli’s path that earned the penalty.
The 27-year-old was substituted with the Spurs fans singing his name. There was a time, not so long ago, when such a scenario seemed unlikely.
5. Tottenham close the gap
Spurs’ rivals moved away from them over the Christmas period and Mauricio Pochettino’s side had to respond.
They have done so with an emphatic victory against a side who are generally strong at home – the Saints had only lost one out of their previous 13 games at St Mary’s in the league, and they had kept clean sheets in their previous three matches in front of their own fans.
After a shaky start on the south coast, the Lilywhites have picked up where they left off against Burnley before the festive period, and they are now just one point behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs