Two first half goals were enough for Tottenham to earn their 13th win at White Hart Lane this season and thus sustain their unbeaten home record.
Tottenham played with their tails up for the bulk of the first half. It appeared as if the absence of Harry Kane hardly went noticed by the remainder of the starting XI.
Part of the reason Spurs played so fluidly was that Heung-min Son provided an interesting focal point for the attack.
He’s not Kane by any means. Without the England international’s physicality or tricky link up play, Son instead leaned on his own advantages.
Chief among those is his sheer pace. He rode the shoulders of Southampton’s centre-backs throughout his time on the pitch. They kept them back and distracted them from passing out of the back.
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Though he wouldn’t score, he did manage to get on the end of a lovely Christian Eriksen pass early in the match. Fraser Forster was equal to the resulting shot, but it was a warning to Southampton’s defense that they could not leave Son unattended.
It was Eriksen would actually put the side ahead just minutes later. After retrieving the ball on the right, he cut inside, found space just outside the area and launched one past Forster.
The lead was no less than Tottenham deserved after their opening volleys. They would maintain the pressure throughout the half, eventually earning a second after Dele Alli was fouled inside the Saints’ penalty area.
It was Dele who took that penalty in the absence of Kane, his first ever at the professional level. Tottenham entered the break confident that they could see out the match.
Southampton knew, too, they two goals were hardly insurmountable. They began the second half the better team. They were more progressive, pressing higher up the pitch and sending testing balls through the middle.
One of those balls evaded the efforts of Toby Alderweireld and ended up at the feet of James Ward-Prowse. The recent England callup deftly sent the ball into Hugo Lloris’ goal.
Their advantage halved, Tottenham faced the prospect of not earning full points on the day. In response Pochettino made some interesting changes that, in the end, paid off.
The most significant of those changes was removing Son and replacing him with Harry Winks. That pushed Dele forward into the striker role while also crowding a midfield that was slowly tipping in the Saints’ favor.
With that added control, Tottenham re-discovered their footing and saw out the match without another close call.
This marks the most home matches won by Spurs in over 20 years. More importantly, it proved that they could survive without Kane against tricky opposition.