5 talking points from Tottenham's 1-1 draw at Southampton

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane (centre) scores his side’s goal at St Mary’s
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane (centre) scores his side’s goal at St Mary’s

Harry Kane cancelled out Davinson Sanchez’s early own goal but Tottenham had to settle for a 1-1 draw away against Southampton. Here are five talking points from St Mary’s Stadium.

  1. Christian Eriksen’s absence is felt acutely

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was always a doubt for this fixture, having fallen ill, and he was ultimately forced to miss the match, with Michel Vorm deputising.

However, Eriksen’s absence from the squad was a surprise. It was the first time the Dane had been missing from the starting line-up in a Premier League match this season, and it soon emerged that he too had been struck down with sickness.

Perhaps Mauricio Pochettino needs to ban the handshake routines which are popular among Spurs’ players, in an attempt to stop germs from spreading through the squad.

AS IT HAPPENED: Southampton v Tottenham

READ MORE: Kane earns Spurs a point at St Mary’s

One thing is for sure: Tottenham badly missed Eriksen today.

Interestingly, Pochettino chose to field Moussa Sissoko as the replacement on the right side of the front four rather than Erik Lamela.

Sissoko continues to divide opinions among Spurs supporters but he certainly seems to have his manager’s trust. Indeed, he has played at least some part in 23 of Tottenham’s 24 league matches this term.

The Frenchman’s critics will continue to feel justified in their views after this game, however.

Sissoko worked hard but at times left Serge Aurier exposed behind him, especially in the first half, while failing to provide a consistent threat in the final third.

He did get one good opportunity in the first half but was unable to capitalise, prodding wide six yards out when Ben Davies fizzed a waist-high cross to the back post.

The 28-year-old was hardly the only Spurs player to fall short of the required standard, however.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game
  1. Spurs’ momentum is ruined by collective failings

Tottenham went into this match having won five games out of six, with last weekend’s 4-0 demolition of Everton being one of their best displays of the season.

But they were unrecognisable from that side at Southampton this afternoon, with virtually every player performing well below par.

Aurier was defensively suspect and was beaten for pace when the Saints scored their opener. Davinson Sanchez rarely looked comfortable and scored an unfortunate own goal. Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier were unable to give their side control in midfield and a reliable base to build from. All three attacking midfielders were poor, despite the open nature of the match.

For his own part, Pochettino could have made earlier substitutions, but he waited until the 70th minute, when the situation was already becoming a bit desperate, before introducing Lamela in place of the ineffective Heung-Min Son, who has looked far better at Wembley than at rival grounds in the last month.

There was much to be positive about when the final whistle blew against Everton eight days ago. But the only positive today was that Spurs could easily have lost this duel.

The frustration was palpable for manager Maurico Pochettino
The frustration was palpable for manager Maurico Pochettino
  1. Déjà vu as Lilywhites fall behind early on at St Mary’s

When Tottenham visited this ground last season, in December 2016, they made a nightmare start and found themselves trailing after just two minutes, with Virgil van Dijk giving the hosts the lead.

History repeated itself today as the Saints punished a slow start from Spurs, who struggled to find their rhythm in wet conditions, and on a sticky pitch which slowed their passes.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s side had already threatened on a couple of occasions when they took a 15th-minute lead. Ryan Bertrand got outside Aurier and, although a sliding Sanchez got a foot to the low cross, the Colombian only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own net via the near post.

It left Spurs having an uphill task, similarly to their early setbacks in their disappointing results against West Brom, Leicester and Watford towards the end of 2017.

They had battled back to triumph 4-1 in the same scenario on the south coast 13 months previously – and the fightback this time began almost immediately. But there was to be no victory this time.

Southampton’s players celebrate their goal, an own goal scored by Tottenham Hotspur’s Davinson Sanchez
Southampton’s players celebrate their goal, an own goal scored by Tottenham Hotspur’s Davinson Sanchez
  1. Harry Kane moves to 99 Premier League goals before missing late chance

Spurs were only behind for 197 seconds as their prolific marksman quickly cancelled out the opener and spared Sanchez’s blushes.

The goal came with surprising ease as Kane leapt to head home from Ben Davies’ routine corner. In fact it was similar to the 24-year-old’s opener in the reverse fixture at Wembley on Boxing Day, when he was allowed to tap in from Eriksen’s free kick at close range.

Kane’s equaliser took him to 99 Premier League goals – just one short of his century – and he very nearly reached his ton in perfect style by netting a late winner against Southampton today.

Instead, uncharacteristically, the prolific frontman squandered his big chance to be the hero and shot wide from eight yards.

Regardless, it will not be long before he reaches his next milestones. Kane will be facing some of the meanest defences in his next three league matches, with Tottenham taking on Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in succession in February. But reaching the 100-mark against one of those sides would only make the occasion more special.

  1. Tottenham suffer body blow in top-four fight

Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were all victorious on Saturday, and Spurs’ failure to follow suit against a side who are in the thick of the relegation battle is damaging indeed.

Fourth-placed Liverpool visit basement boys Swansea on Monday night, and if Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are victorious then Pochettino’s Lilywhites will fall five points outside the Champions League spots ahead of their back-to-back showdowns with Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

They now have less margin for error in those titanic duels and will probably need more points from them, as a result of this poor performance.

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