Football Features

Speedy Southampton set another record: Winners & losers from tonight’s PL action

By Ben Green

Published: 21:55, 23 April 2019

Spurs have strengthened their position in the Premier League top four race after a 1-0 win over Brighton, while Watford snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against Southampton after drawing 1-1.

A late Christian Eriksen strike broke the Brighton bulwark and gifted Spurs all three points in north London, while Andre Gray’s 90th minute equaliser cancelled out Shane Long’s seven second strike at Vicarage Road.

It was an entertaining evening of Tuesday night football, but who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Shane Long

Ledley King’s 19-year reign as the fastest Premier League goalscorer has finally come to an end after Southampton’s hit-or-miss forward Shane Long netted within just seven seconds against Watford this evening.

Given that Watford have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last nine Premier League games – the longest current run in the top flight – it is no surprise the Saints were able to expose Ben Foster’s net, but to do so after just seven seconds was certainly not part of the script.

Before many fans even had a chance to take their seats at Vicarage Road, the travelling Southampton faithful were in dreamland. A hopeful Craig Cathcart launch from the back – as is customary with most kick-offs – deflected off the Republic of Ireland international before he deceptively chipped Ben Foster to break the deadlock.

The goal has finally brought an end to Ledley King’s 19-year record, after the former Spurs centre-back fired a deflected long-ranged effort past Bradford goalkeeper Matt Clarke in 2000.

Loser: Spurs’ top four rivals

With a glorious chance to crank up the pressure on their top four competitors, Spurs nearly choked and squandered a glorious opportunity, but they persevered until the final whistle and ultimately found a way past Ryan, putting some considerable breathing space between them and Chelsea in fourth.

In a bizarre turn of events, all four clubs vying for a Champions League qualification spot dropped points across the Easter weekend; Arsenal lost to Crystal Palace, Man Utd collapsed against Everton, Spurs lost to Man City, and Chelsea mustered only a draw against Burnley.

As such, this evening presented Pochettino a fantastic chance to re-establish their grip on the top four race, and his side duly obliged, with Christian Eriksen’s late strike sending the home fans into raptures and securing maximum reward for the club.

Three points has strengthened Spurs’ position in third, and the club also boast a significantly better goal difference than those just below them. A Champions League semi-final may be on Pochettino’s mind but he is handling domestic matters exceptionally well.

Winner: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

And no not just because the 62,062-seater venue boasts the longest bar in the UK or has its owns state-of-the-art microbrewery, but because Mauricio Pochettino’s side are yet to concede in four matches at their new home – winning all those matches.

Fans were made to wait before they could enjoy the luxuries of one of world football’s finest footballing arenas, but the club are well-and-truly reaping the rewards of that patience now, as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is proving to be something of a sanctuary for Pochettino.

Clean sheets against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield were satisfying outcomes, but the true coming of age moment for the venue of course came against Man City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. They have now followed up with another clean sheet and three points, maintaining their perfect start at fortress Tottenham.

Loser: Watford’s defence

Watford have kept just seven clean sheets this season and it took less than 10 seconds for them to be breached this evening – only West Ham (five), Huddersfield Town (five) and Fulham (four) have kept less than the Hornets.

As mentioned the club are currently enduring a nine-game run in the league without keeping clean sheet, which is the longest current record of any club. The last time Watford actually kept an opponent quiet was against Everton at the start of February.

Since then Javi Gracia has seen his side ship in goals left, right, and centre, against already-relegated Fulham, strugglers Cardiff City and even low-scoring Huddersfield. If the Hornets are to have any hope of winning the FA Cup against free-scoring Manchester City in May they will have to find a way to patch up their leaky defence.

If Gracia’s men are guilty of even the slightest aberration in defence against the reigning Premier League champions then they will be ruthlessly exposed by a side that have netted 155 goals across all competitions this term.

Winner: Southampton

Thanks to Long’s record-breaking goal, the Saints now boast two rapid records, with the club holding not only the fastest goal scored in Premier League history, but also the fastest ever hat-trick netted in the competition.

That achievement was reached after Sadio Mane bagged a quick-fire three-goal haul against Aston Villa in 2015, with his hat-trick taking just two minutes and 56 seconds to complete.

The unlucky recipient of that famous Mane mauling was Shay Given, whose exploits between the sticks failed to keep out six Saints goals at the St. Mary’s Stadium four years ago, as Ronald Koeman’s Southampton ran riot against Tim Sherwood’s Villans.

Loser: Chris Hughton

In quite extraordinary circumstances Brighton have now failed to find the back of the net in seven consecutive matches, firing a collective blank acorss the entirety of April so far.

This abysmal run means the Seagulls are now anxiously peering over their shoulders at Cardiff City in what is turning out to be a very interesting basement battle at the foot of the table.

Against Spurs the former Lilywhite parked a very functional bus in front of Mathew Ryan, with his defence given license to clear the ball with the good old agricultural row z hoof, and it paid dividends for large spells of the match as the Champions League semi-finalist struggled to break them down. Unfortunately that wall of blue green shirts couldn’t hold out for the full 90 minutes, as Spurs’ dynamic Dane produced the goods in the dying embers.

If Brighton are to remain in the league it will be during matches against teams in and around them where they can look to clinch maximum reward; which unfortunately for Hughton is only Newcastle – they face Arsenal and Man City in their final two matches.

Winner: Christian Eriksen

Spurs’ dynamic Dane produced the moment of inspiration this evening, firing a glorious strike right out of the top drawer against a hapless Ryan to send Pochettino and the Spurs fans into delirium.

The trademark finish was the pure embodiment of Eriksen’s striking ability, as no player has scored more Premier League goals from outside the box than the playmaker (10) since the 2016/17 season.

With Spurs struggling to break down a resiliant and watertight Brighton defence, it was also going to take piece of dazzling imagination to break the deadlock, and that is exactly what Eriksen produced.

Come the end of the season that goal could prove a decisive moment in this fiercely competitive top four race. That delectabel Eriksen effort has also ensured the club maintained 100% record at the new stadium – with eight goals scored, and none conceded.