In London, times are a-changing. Tottenham defeated Southampton 4-1 after coming from behind, demonstrating how the team has transformed psychologically under manager Antonio Conte. In the past, they would collapse if they gave up an odd goal inside 15 minutes. Instead, they managed to score four goals without Heung-Min Son or Harry Kane finding the back of the net. James Ward Prowse scored the first goal for Southampton, but Spurs quickly built a large lead thanks to goals from Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, Dejan Kulusevski, and a Mohamed Salisu own goal.
Romeo Lavia, 18, Joe Aribo, and new goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made their debuts for Ralph Hasenhttl in this game. This summer, they participated in the Southampton youth movement, and their vigor got the Saints off to a strong start. They started out aggressively, and Moussa Djenepo gave Ward-Prowse the opportunity for his opening strike. Hasenhttl had no idea that the goal would be the last moment of happiness for the visiting team.
The only way for Conte to have outdone Sessegnon’s close-range opening goal is if the other fullback Emerson Royal had helped it. Dejan Kulusevski’s cross to Sessegnon at the back post, though, was what allowed Spurs to draw even before taking the lead ten minutes later. The team felt as though they could play past Southampton after the first goal, and Son’s drawing of a corner set up the second. His first goal for the team in three years came when he found a diving Eric Dier for the finish, but what was really impressive was how the team maintained the play.
Emerson Royal put on a show in the second half by forcing Salisu to score an own goal and then helping Kulusevski as he kept up his stellar performance for the day.
Ivan Perisic, Clement Lenglet, and Yves Bissouma all made their debuts off the bench under Conte after no new starts were introduced to the starting 11. It demonstrates Conte’s confidence in his entire team, as he will need each of them to contend on different fronts coming season, and it also demonstrates to the new recruits that they must put in the necessary effort if they want to start games.
This side has advanced significantly since Pep Guardiola referred to them as the “Harry Kane team” in 2017. The fact that they scored four goals while Kane and Son combined for just one assist demonstrates this. Conte now controls this team, and his fingerprints are all over everything. There’s a reason why there’s so much excitement at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, from planned passing plays to gutsy comebacks.
With Richarlison’s ban over, the team will only get stronger as it prepares to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge the following weekend. Conte’s team will be put to the test once more when they face off against a top team, but it helps that they aced the pre-test with flying colors.