Instead of looking for a fourth goal – remember the first match finished 4-1 – Spurs immediately let down and were literally and metaphorically pegged back as a struggle to hold the lead was underway. The Saints held 60% of the game’s possession after Spurs scored their third, which should not be allowed against a relegation-threatened side, and Tottenham got what they deserved as a result.
Tottenham was far too conservative and ran to what they were running from
Only three minutes after seemingly putting the game away, Tottenham stood around as James Ward-Prowse found space on the right in the final third. His cross was headed back across the goalmouth by Sekou Mara, and finally, Walcott pounced to hit a little left-footed ball off a lunging Romero and into the Tottenham goal.
Now at 2-3, you could see and feel the change in the stadium as the team, more desperate for points, went looking for them, and the team, more hopeful for points, hunkered down.
As Tottenham sat back into a 5-4-1 formation and let Southampton come at them in waves, it was almost inevitable that something bad would happen. Eventually, something bad did, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles made something out of nothing, and Saints stole the point, and Spurs gave away two.
Maitland-Niles had already received some good fortune with a first-half handball shout waved off by the Video Assistant Referee team VAR, which could stand for very auspicious results.
This time, Maitland-Niles jumped in front of Pape Matar Sarr in the box as Sarr was winding up to clear the ball. Sarr did clear the ball and may or may not have kicked Maitland-Niles, who had recklessly jumped in from behind, but Simon Hooper saw enough, and the whistle was blown. VAR reviewed but did not overturn the decision or even ask Hooper to look at the video.
Ward-Prowse stepped up and beat Forster – who could not save an injury-time penalty for the second week in a row – and thus, two more points were dropped.
We could blame Hooper, who had several questionable calls, or VAR, which again shows its bias, but ultimately, this was on Spurs. Tottenham should have never let Southampton back in the game the first time, let alone the second and third times.
Likewise, this game is on Antonio Conte, who went far too conservative in a game Spurs should have won running away.
But this is Tottenham, good, bad, or otherwise, warts and all; the most inconsistent team in football. So while we can “enjoy” being in fourth place for a couple of weeks on break, we all know the truth, Spurs threw away more than two points.