Not including the forfeit to Stade Rennais, Tottenham has lost 12 times this season. Six of those 12 losses have Eric Dier’s absence from the match in common. Again, on Wednesday in north London, Spurs showed just how significant the absence of their defensive leader is to the team.
The absence of leadership contributed to Tottenham mistakes
It is easy to blame Emerson Royal for the two second-half goals Southampton scored in rapid succession to come from behind and beat Tottenham. However, if you take the time to look at the goals, you can see so much more than one individual losing his man.
Instead, preventable errors accumulated that prevented Tottenham from maintaining its lead, gifting Southampton multiple goals. Spurs could avoid these mistakes with defensive leadership a player like Dier provides.
Defensive awareness lacking on the first goal
Ben Davies had the howler as he slipped on the surface and whiffed when the initial build-up to Southampton’s first goal occurred. Maybe he got the shout for time, perhaps not, but a good leader would have assured him he was under no pressure to hurry.
More significant, after the scrambled effort to clear the ball occurred, Spurs had seven players in the penalty box, not including Hugo Lloris. However, as play was recycling and Royal was picking up Romain Perraud, not one of the other six Spurs in the penalty box picked up a man defensively.
Both Harry Winks and Pierre Hojbjerg stood ball watching, as did all three centre-backs, as the cross came to Armando Broja, who finished to equalize the game at one goal apiece. The fact that the entire team was ball-watching instead of finding the most dangerous man to mark is quite alarming.