In pictures: Southampton v Tottenham
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Tottenham’s lacklustre 1-1 draw at Southampton ensured Antonio Conte despite seeing his Spurs side continue their unbeaten run in the Premier League. The visitors struggled to break down a Saints side who had gone down to 10 men before half-time, losing ground in the race to finish in the top four in the process.
Life was made difficult for them at St Mary’s by a high-pressing Southampton side who appeared to have the edge for much of the first-half.
James Ward-Prowse scored a stunning opening goal with curling volley after Spurs failed to clear a throw-in.
After that wonder strike, Spurs struggled to get into the game, with the hosts instead looking like they would take control.
But they were handed a lifeline four minutes before half-time when Mohammed Salisu brought down Heung-Min Son in the box which led to his sending off and set up Harry Kane to equalise with a penalty.
Despite the man advantage, the visitors continued to struggle after the break, though did see two goals controversially ruled out and Southampton were able to hold on to a point.
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The draw made clear what should be a major wake-up call for Conte and Spurs with the transfer window opening on Saturday.
Much has been made of Tottenham’s desire to sign a new striker this winter as they look for a reliable second option to Harry Kane.
Rather than look towards bringing in a new attacker though, the win at Southampton suggests that central midfield should be the area that is targeted.
Conte opted to start with a pairing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks for the trip to the Saints, dropping Tanguy Ndombele to the bench.
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But the duo failed to gain control of proceedings and appeared to be overwhelmed by Southampton until the hosts went down to 10 men.
Hojbjerg lost two of his three defensive duels, was dispossessed once and failed to make a successful tackle.
Winks also appeared to be off the pace until Spurs gained the man advantage, though fared better than his Danish team-mate afterwards.
While Conte was reluctant to replace either player with one of the range of options on his bench, their performance at St Mary’s left much to be desired.
The pair failed to hand Spurs much control even when Southampton went down a player, with the Saints continuing to threaten despite Tottenham’s dominance of the ball.
That failure to gain any sort of control against an opponent who entered the game sitting in the bottom half of the table will be a major concern to Conte.
Even with a player extra, Tottenham continued to find life hard going, with their midfield at the heart of their problems with breaking down the hosts.
Though another striker will obviously be on the shopping list, the wake-up call delivered by Southampton should see central midfield become a priority.
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