With the season winding down, and Pochettino’s first term as manager of Tottenham Hotspur a relatively successful one, the Argentine finds himself up against the last team he brought success to. Southampton have enjoyed a relatively successful season, bearing in mind they lost their manager and a number of key players before the season began, and new manager Ronald Koeman has done a fantastic job in his short time with the club. Tottenham and Southampton’s league positions both look set in stone, but both teams had the chance to jump above rivals Liverpool into 5th place.
After a positive 3-1 victory of Newcastle last week, Spurs began in a similarly positive manner; and after a first ten minutes of both teams getting to grips with the game, Tottenham came out the more positive of the two teams. With a number of boming runs from wide players, Spurs dominated in possession for the first twenty minutes of the game. Southampton weren’t quiet either though, and worries Tottenham on a number of occasions with a plethora of excellent set pieces, calling on recently returned Hugo Lloris for his fantastic goalkeeping once again. The next ten minutes saw Southampton put bags of pressure on Tottenham, and the Saints’ stability off the ball meant that they always had an answer to Spurs’ attacking and poor defence. Tottenham’s lacking defence was shown, due to a diabolically indecisive Ben Davies, Pelle was allowed to slip through and poke the ball away from him and past Lloris twenty nine minutes in. This put Tottenham on the back foot for over ten minutes, and the half looked likely to end as it was. However, a well-delivered cross from Eric Dier found Erik Lamela, who eased the ball past Daivs to level the score. This put the thunder back into the Tottenham team and support, and resulted in a back and forth from both teams until the end of the half.
The second half began relatively evenly, with both teams having their share of chances and set pieces, but Tottenham looked the worse team for a while after half time. Tottenham’s defence, after looking switched off for a while, were made to play again in the sixty fifth minute with another Pelle goal. This time coming from a lovely cross from the first touch of substitute Shane Long, and Pelle heading in for his second. This signalled panic station for Spurs, and Southampton could sense it, and carried on the pressure. Pochettino attempted to turn the game around with a double substitution, but before he had the chance Eric Dier threaded a ball through to Nacer Chadli, who finished spectacularly from a tight angle to level the score for the second time.
Tottenham’s fight to come back was met with Southampton’s tactical stability, and the game played out at the same score line. Both sides had opportunities to win, but neither could produce the spark needed to win. An injury to Ben Davies, along with a number of setbacks, meant that both sets of fans had to sit through a nail-biting seven minutes of added time. But the score remained, and both teams went away with a point each. This game has put both sides in similar positions, but they will still be pushing to finish as high as possible for Pochettino and Koeman on their debut seasons.