Saints lost their second consecutive game, going down 1-0 at Tottenham. Unlike last week's defeat against West Brom, Mauricio Pochettino's men put in a decent showing and were unlucky not to come away with anything. The result drags Saints back down into the relegation mix, however.
Spurs were well below their best in the first half. Saints had much the better of the opening 45, creating a few decent chances, while limiting their opponents. The visitors were very disciplined throughout, defending superbly as a collective unit. Saints really should have had the lead on 10 minutes. Nathaniel Clyne was played through one-on-one by Rickie Lambert, but somehow blasted wide. Saints' front four were involved in some very good interchanges, but chances were still scarce. On 34 minutes Hugo Lloris tipped Lambert's free-kick on to the post. From the rebound, Steven Davis headed straight into the arms of the French keeper from Guly Do Prado's cross.
Saints started the second half fairly strongly, but continued to squander opportunities in front of goal. On 51 Adam Lallana brilliantly turned his man, before firing a weak shot straight at Lloris. Saints also had a series of set-pieces which came to absolutely nothing. Guly was forced off with an injury on 63 minutes, with Emmanuel Mayuka coming on as a replacement. Mayuka played up front, with Lambert dropping off in a deeper role. Saints lost a certain degree of shape with the change, and began to tire slightly during the final 20 minutes. Spurs stepped it up and had the visitors on the back foot towards the end of the game. Even so they didn't create an awful lot. It was going to take something special to get the better of the Southampton back five, and luckily for Tottenham, they were able to conjure up a bit of magic in the 85th minute. Gareth Bale cut inside from the right, before firing a near unstoppable 35 yard thunderbolt past Artur Boruc. Spurs saw out the game fairly comfortably, with Saints barely threatening in the final third.
A day of mixed emotions. Saints can take heart from their performance, but the result still leaves us with a bit more to do. Losing to Tottenham is no disgrace, but the circumstances in which it happened make it all the more frustrating. There can't be too many complaints at the way Pochettino set his team up. Defensively we were very good, and that was without Morgan Schneiderlin and Maya Yoshida. Going forward we could have done with a bit more cutting edge however. We had chances to finish the game off, but weren't quite ruthless enough. Worryingly the likes of Lallana, Lambert and Rodriguez have dropped off ever so slightly in the last few weeks. I still believe that we'll be fine and that this team has a big future ahead of them, but we need to step it up in the final two games. I said we were heading for a comfortable finish after the Reading win, but perhaps now we need to reassess. The odds are still very much in our favour, and we could still easily end up closer to the top ten than the bottom three. It might not be as easy as we all thought, however. If Wigan beat Swansea on Tuesday then we are very much back in the mix. Being safe with two games to go would have been nice, but that's not really the Southampton way.
Boruc: 6. Flapped at a corner, but otherwise didn't have too much to do. Didn't panic under pressure
Clyne: 7. Defensively pretty much spot on, some great forward runs too. On the other hand, really should have scored and started to wane a bit towards the end of the game
Fonte: 8. Good to see him back in the starting line-up. Timing and positioning excellent throughout. Headed straight to Defoe early on the only real blackmark
Hooiveld: 7. Much better from the Dutchman. Calm and composed on the ball
Shaw: 7. Arguably could have done slightly better with the goal, but otherwise fairly solid defensively
Cork: 7. Steady showing in the middle of the park
Davis: 8. Filled in for Morgan Schneiderlin admirably. Tackling and passing very good
Guly: 8. Stepped up to the plate in his first start in months. Created a couple of chances with well-timed through balls and also won a number of free-kicks
Lallana: 6. Plenty of endeavor, but end-product often lacking
Rodriguez: 5. A few decent moments here and there, but fairly quiet overall
Lambert: 6. Some decent link-up play, and slightly unlucky not to score from the first half free-kick. Still capable of much more however
Mayuka: 5. Struggled to get involved in the game
Puncheon: Nothing really of note to mention