A strong first 45 minutes was almost cancelled out by a tired looking second half, with Gareth Bale returning from paternity leave to torment his former club.
The best and the worst of Tom Huddlestone
Given freedom in the first half by Southampton’s 4-4-2 system, which resulted in the Spurs midfield overloading the centre, Huddlestone showed the skill on the ball which made him such a promising player. However in the second half, when Southampton came into the game a little more, he was quickly replaced by Villas-Boas as the Spurs manager looked to Jake Livermore for more mobility. Despite only playing 63 minutes Huddlestone completed as many passes as any other Spurs player, and this performance will have given him some confidence, but you’d still expect Dembele to walk back into the first team when fit.
Bale is back, and Spurs needed him more than ever today. With some players struggling after the weekend trip to Slovenia Bale’s freshness was vital his sides win today. An early goal could have been added to on a couple of other occasions, and he was superb raiding down his wing.
Lennon and Walker
As good as Bale was, I’d say Spurs’ right flank was the stronger side for much of the game. Walker has taken some criticism recently, and though it has gone overboard, he clearly hasn’t been as good as last year. Today he was a force overlapping down the right, and created three chances for Spurs with his forays. Lennon was also very good, and the sight of the two of them in full flow will be encouraging to all Spurs fans.
Play for 90 mins
To my eyes, Spurs have yet to put together a consistent 90 mins this season. More often than not they have been coming on strong in the second half after sluggish starts, today was the opposite, with Southampton very much in charge as the game ended. It’s understandable to sit back to defend a lead, but to do so to the extent Spurs have has already led to late equalisers from West Brom, Panathanikos and Norwich. Spurs have the ability to control games for the whole match, a little more confidence is needed in their passing ability, especially when protecting a lead.
Away day delight
It’s a rare thing to see Spurs doing so well away from home, so they should enjoy it while it lasts. Three wins from four games, if Spurs can start producing more dynamic displays at home, they will be well set this season.
image: © apasciuto