Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side came back from behind to claim all three points against travelling Southampton.
In the curtain raiser to their 2022/23 campaign, Spurs fans were exuberant in their return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and optimistically welcomed their new signings before the game.
In spite of that, none of the new signings were in the starting line-up as Conte stuck with the same team he finished with last season. This was due to the players he has previously worked with being a step ahead of the new signings who need more time to fully adapt to the Italian’s ideology.
The game started with an anti-climax for the hosts as a cross from Moussa Djenepo was met by James Ward-Prowse and his half volley bounced past the helpless Hugo Lloris. The goal advantage and early signs of bright attacking play from the visitors gave Tottenham something to worry about.
However, the overriding quality of Tottenham’s attacking force was on display as they fired back with an equaliser ten minutes later. Dejan Kulusevski with a delightful ball to the back post and Ryan Sessegnon’s leaping header put the teams level.
This was followed by a rare goal from Eric Dier, whose pre-season screamer against Team K-League appears to have acted as a real confidence boost when going forward. The low whipped ball from Heung Min Son invited the central defender to dive and flick the ball into the bottom corner. This silenced Japhet Tanganga who, despite being lectured pre-match, refused to include Dier in his Fantasy League team.
This saw both teams into half-time with Southampton still capable of coming away with a point or three. Their very slim chances of redemption were annulled once the Lilywhites marched out for the second half with the intent of sending a message to the rest of the Premier League.
Sessegnon had thought he had secured a brace with 25 seconds played in the second half, but his composed finish with his weak foot was ruled out for offside. This was merely a warning sign.
The game was killed off on the hour by a bizarre third Tottenham goal. A shanked shot from Emerson Royal, followed by a scuffed clearance from Mohammed Salisu, ended in the back of the Saints’ net. One of the worst goals to be scored at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and the muted response from the fans confirmed it. On the other hand, I am sure it will make it onto the highly anticipated Emerson Royal compilation.
The game was then finalised with a trademark Kulusevski finish; his whipped shot from the right into the far left corner was his first goal in a home game for Spurs. This is the kind of goal the Swede feels he should be scoring more often for Tottenham, reinforced by his Man of the Match award (despite impressive performances from both starting wing-backs).
Debut appearances for Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet and Ivan Perisic were simply footnotes in this game as all three were given limited time to impress, despite Bissouma receiving a yellow card.
One game down, thirty-seven to go and it already looks like a promising season for Antonio Conte’s side. Harry Kane was far from his best today and Richarlison was out with a suspension, meaning there is still lots to come from this exciting outfit. Those involved with the club can feel something special brewing for the coming campaign, with many dreaming of silverware. After all, the game is about glory and to dare is to do.