Tottenham lacking leadership and awareness on Goals 2 and 3
With both the second and third goals Spurs conceded to the Saints, similar issues occurred, costing Tottenham the match.
On the Saints’ second goal, Rodrigo Bentancur gave James Ward-Prowse too much space and was late closing him down. Sanchez and Royal were covering men in the box as everyone else watched the ball, and Romero was in no man’s land a few feet in front of the player Sanchez was marking.
Then as the first-time cross from Ward-Prowse came in, Southampton had additional players beyond the one Royal was already guarding, attacking the back post. Emerson seemingly got beat, but the man belonged to one of the midfielders – either Winks or Dejan Kulusevski – both of whom were ball watching and did not pick up anyone defensively.
Could Royal have done better? Sure he could have gone in with his head instead of his leg. However, another player picking up the runner in the first place would have helped.
The lack of awareness was prevalent on the final goal as well.
Immediately under pressure following the kickoff, Spurs had seemingly cleared a cross away, but the defence failed to move. No players pushed out or moved up to create a potential offside. Nor did any player pick up a man defensively. Everyone jogged while watching Southampton recycle the ball to Ward-Prowse for another cross and header finish.
If one defender had the awareness to push the team forward as the ball went back to Ward-Prowse before the cross, Southampton would have likely been offside.
Instead, Romero and Royal pushed up as Davies and Sanchez stayed a yard back, putting Royal again in a position he shouldn’t have been in.
With Dier playing, we’d like to think he would have calmed Davies and gotten midfielders on their marks just as the absent Englishman would have helped Spurs create an excellent defensive line for offsides – like Southampton did when Romero’s goal was flagged. Instead, with Dier out, we saw the defence regress to making numerous preventable mistakes, costing the team vital points.
We know the team is addressing centre-back in the summer transfer window. Let’s hope leadership is one of the characteristics Fabio Paratici is looking for, as Tottenham is clearly in desperate need.