A disappointing, under-powered performance led Tottenham to a 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday and saw Spurs drop two points in a must-win game.
Southampton took the lead in the 15th minute when Davinson Sanchez deflected the ball into his own net, but Spurs equalised three minutes later when Harry Kane headed home a Ben Davies cross. The second half proved to be equally as scrappy as the first half, and neither side was able to create many clear-cut chances. A draw was a fair result.
On a greasy pitch in difficult conditions, Michel Vorm didn't put a foot wrong and proved to be a more-than-useful replacement for Hugo Lloris, who was out sick. Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen were the two standout players, and Spurs might take some comfort from the fact that they didn't surrender all three points when Southampton had a clear sight of goal three minutes from time.
Whatever gains manager Mauricio Pochettino was hoping to take from Spurs' midweek trip to Barcelona didn't materialise. Spurs looked worryingly leaden, lost most 50/50 balls and were lamentably slow and imprecise on the break. On a weekend when all their top-four rivals won, Spurs have let the gap between fourth and fifth widen again.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- It doesn't say much for the strength of the squad that when Christian Eriksen is unavailable, Pochettino feels he has only Moussa Sissoko to fill in. Just as concerning is his reluctance to change things when his original plan clearly isn't working. Pochettino's substitutions were both too late and too defensive, given the importance of a win.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Michel Vorm, 7 -- Had no chance of stopping the Sanchez own goal. His handling and distribution of a slippery ball were assured. A welcome sign of strength in depth in a key position.
DF Serge Aurier, 5 -- Endured a torrid first half in which he was constantly caught out of position in defence. All of Southampton's openings came down his flank. Little threat going forward but improved slightly in the second half.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 6 -- His usual positional awareness deserted him during the first 45 minutes, allowing Southampton too much time on the ball and forcing him into several last-ditch interceptions. His first really bad game for Spurs.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 8 -- The one totally secure member of the back four. Was often called upon to clear up his teammates' mistakes, which he did with assurance. Made one vital second-half interception.
DF Ben Davies, 7 -- Never under too much pressure defensively and posed far more of an attacking threat than Aurier. His crossing wasn't always as dangerous as one would like, but he did supply the corner for Kane's equaliser.
MF Eric Dier, 6 -- Started once again in his favoured position as a defensive midfielder in front of the back four but failed to impose himself. Allowed Southampton too much room, and not nearly enough of his passes went to his own teammates.
MF Mousa Dembele, 7 -- Fought a running battle with a fussy referee who frequently penalised his physicality and strength on the ball. Looked to be the most likely to create openings but still has a frustrating tendency to delay the final pass.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 4 -- Hard to see what vision Pochettino has for this player at this stage of Spurs' development. Looked off the place and tentative; he generates anxiety with his discomfort on the ball.
MF Dele Alli, 7 -- Not at his best, but worked hard throughout to try to create openings. Still prone to unnecessary diving and senseless fouls, but at least he doesn't go missing in action when the going gets tough.
MF Son Heung-Min, 6 -- Unrecognisable to the player who dismantled Everton with a scintillating second-half display last weekend. Failed to run at a Southampton defence that was scared of him, but it was still a surprise to see him substituted when Spurs were desperate for a second goal.
FW Harry Kane, 7 -- Settled Spurs' nerves by escaping his marker to head home the equaliser and had a great chance to win the game late on but screwed his left-foot shot wide. Worked hard but didn't look as sharp as he has in recent games.
MF Erik Lamela, NR -- Seemed off his game, and on the few occasions when he found himself in space, he slowed the game down and allowed Southampton to regroup.
DF Kieran Trippier, NR -- Brought on to replace the injured Aurier, Trippier immediately provided more of a threat but was unable to find the killer cross.
MF Victor Wanyama, NR -- Looked good on the ball apart from wasting time with one long-range shot that went well wide when better options were available. It's hard to know why Pochettino brought on an additional defensive midfielder when the game was still there to be won.