Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur will play one final game against each other this season after their FA Cup fourth round showdown at St Mary’s ended in a 1-1 draw.
Jose Mourinho’s side, back on the south coast for the first time since losing Harry Kane on New Year’s Day, were seemingly into the next round after Heung-min Son finally broke Angus Gunn’s resolve.
However, this new-look Saints team are made of stronger stuff and would rally late on to force a replay through Sofiane Boufal’s equaliser.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.
Winner: Angus Gunn
Three months ago to the day Southampton were humiliated 9-0 at home by a ruthless Leicester City side. In goal for the Saints was reserve goalkeeper Angus Gunn. The 24-year-old hasn’t made a league appearance since, with Alex McCarthy retaining that number one spot. Gunn, however, did return in their FA Cup third round showdown with Huddersfield Town, keeping a clean sheet in the process as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men ran out 2-0 winners.
He would be rewarded with a start this afternoon against Spurs, and that decision would be vindicated just after the half-hour mark when he produced a stunning save — using the full extension of his foot — to deny Lucas Moura scoring what should have been the breakthrough goal. It doesn’t fully exorcise the demons of October 25, 2019 but that occasion, and conceding today, shouldn’t define Gunn.
Loser: Stuart Armstrong
Whenever called upon by Hasenhüttl this season, Stuart Armstrong has performed moderately well for the Saints; his goal against Crystal Palace last time out in the Premier League was the second of this campaign across 18 outings.
Having started 2019/20 as an option from the bench, the former Celtic midfielder has forced his way into their starting XI, so picking up what seemed to be a hamstring injury today couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Winner: Japhet Tanganga
18 – Fairly even start to proceedings at St Mary's. Both sides are exchanging decent spells of possession and beginning to create chances.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 25, 2020
Jose Mourinho is always quick to point out the number of youngsters he’s brought through when it’s ever claimed he’s averse to playing the kids. But that’s a conversation for another day. What is relevant, though, is his faith in 20-year-old defender Japhet Tanganga, who made his full Premier League debut against runaway leaders Liverpool earlier this month.
Tanganga gave a good account of himself against Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering Reds, even if Spurs fell short, but one swallow does not a summer make as he subsequently struggled against Watford (that is to be expected, given his age).
Today, however, the multi-functional Hackney-born footballer, playing at left-back, put in a shift to make Mourinho proud. No moment illustrated that perfectly than a well-timed off-the-line clearance to deny in-form marksman Danny Ings. Speaking of whom…
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Loser: Danny Ings
Chances are, Ings will be part of the England squad that welcomes Italy and Denmark to Wembley in March as part of their Euro 2020 preparation. He’s earned that right following his incredible form in front of goal. Right now, only Jamie Vardy, who has retired from international football, has scored more Premier League goals than him.
Harry Kane’s injury essentially leaves a spot up for grabs, though even if the Spurs man was available it doesn’t necessarily mean Gareth Southgate wouldn’t give Ings a call. The former Liverpool striker has enjoyed better days than today, when it seemed as if he had left his scoring boots at home.
Winner: Giovani Lo Celso
Harry Kane’s absence during the second half of last season saw Heung-min Son emerge as a leader for Spurs, as he took on those goalscoring responsibilities. And there’s a sense of déjà vu, as the Lillywhites must navigate the next couple of months without their leading man. Son, not quite playing the number nine role, continues to be an outlet on the flanks and threat in behind the opposition defence. His goal to break the deadlock, however, would not have been possible without Giovani Lo Celso’s contribution.
📸 ⚽️ Sonny gets us going at St Mary's!
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 25, 2020
The 23-year-old Argentine is presently on loan from Real Betis, though his move can be made permanent, and following a string of eye-catching performances Spurs boss Mourinho hinted of a longer stay. Son’s goal — scored via his weaker left foot — would be ‘assisted’ by Lo Celso’s compatriot Erik Lamela, who received possession after seeing Lo Celso go on a penetrative run, one of four take-ons he completed from no fewer than five attempts this afternoon. Christian Eriken’s imminent move to Inter Milan should mean ample more playing time for Lo Celso; if he can seize this opportunity, then it won’t be long before the Danish playmaker is forgotten.
A fourth FA Cup game now awaits Spurs, and we are not talking about the sixth round. Back-to-back replays is the last thing Mourinho needs in early 2020, even if the extra games allows him to get to know his squad that better. After going ahead through Son, they should have seen this one out, especially as Ings had looked wasteful in front of goal. Instead, as Mourinho looked to bring Eric Dier on to secure their 1-0 advantage, Ings would tee up substitute Boufal, whose incredible effort from just inside the box was his goal first in two years.