Tottenham 3-2 Southampton: 'Sherwood's mentality won it for Spurs,' says Saunders
'Spurs responded to half-time roasting and bagged win for their boss...'
Last Updated: 24/03/14 10:00am
Gylfi Sigurdsson drove home in stoppage time to earn a victory that lifts Spurs to within six points of fourth-placed Arsenal, all be it having played one game more.
Early goals from Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana put Southampton into an early lead but Christian Eriksen pulled one back before the break, then added a second immediately afterwards.
But despite Eriksen's brace, Saunders told Super Sunday he has no doubts about who should take the plaudits for Tottenham's victory.
"I think the manager has got Spurs the result," he reflected. "Eriksen will get all the headlines but Tim Sherwood has obviously gone in at half-time [and had words].
"All of a sudden Soldado - who has obviously got a bit of a roasting at half-time - chases a lost cause right from the kick off and he's had the composure and the talent to get in and pick out Eriksen at the back post, where lesser players would smash it across the face of goal, and they get back on level terms.
"Sherwood's mentality - the way he played and the way he is - has made them grind a result out. Spurs are struggling at the minute. No longer are we seeing Gareth Bale [pass] to Luka Modric to Jermain Defoe back to Bale, who beats three men and squares it across the face - Tottenham playing silky football.
"They ground this result out; the manager's got them the result. There was hardly any football being played - the goals were scrappy. I think they [the board] will look at Tim and think he's got the players. They are all doing it for him."
Fellow Super Sunday guest Kevin Phillips said Southampton fully deserved their early cushion.
"They made an excellent start - it was exactly how we expected Southampton to come out; they are one of the only teams in the Premier League that like to press high," the former Saints striker, now at Leicester, reported.
"They got in and around the Tottenham players and they couldn't handle it. The first goal came from route one - it was bad defending from Kyle Naughton - but it was an excellent, calm finish from Rodriguez. The only place he could put it was in the corner and he pulled it off to perfection.
"It was coming - Southampton started the game very brightly and they had chances."
Saints converted another of those opportunities when Naughton's control let him down and Rickie Lambert picked up the pieces before neatly playing Lallana in on 28 minutes.
"The first goal was horrendous and this one's just as bad," said Saunders. "Four of them have run out when the ball is cleared from the free-kick and three of them have stayed in there.
"Naughton has got his eye on the ball so he doesn't know what's behind him and he miss-kicks the clearance completely.
"It was a tremendous finish from Lallana but don't underestimate Rickie Lambert's part in it. He gets the ball under control with a little drag back and puts great weight on the pass for Lallana, who produces a great finish against a really good goalkeeper.
The former Welsh striker added: "I've been cringing all weekend about some of the defending in the Premier League.
"The art of defending seems to be creeping out of the game. The way teams play now you can play wingers at full-back - you don't get many Stuart Pearce's anymore; players who are out and out defenders. Some of the defending in this game was shocking."
Phillips was similarly unimpressed by periods of the play at the back.
"There was more calamitous defending for Spurs' first," he reflected. "When the ball comes in from the right Nathaniel Clyne takes his eye off the ball and gifts Eriksen a golden opportunity for Tottenham to get right back into the game.
"The game kind of fizzled out after Eriksen's second but Tottenham did what they had to do. Gylfi Sigurdsson comes on and gets a fantastic finish.
"It was a great strike but I'd just question the defending from Dejan Lovren. He had to stand up and be strong and be counted but just as Sigurdsson strikes it he dives and turns his back and the ball goes under him.
"I think it was rash and he's better than that. He's an experienced defender but that gave the goalkeeper no chance whatsoever because he can't see it."