Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min were impressive as Tottenham cruised to a 4-1 win over Southampton in their opening Premier League tie.
Tottenham and Southampton were sluggish in the early exchanges, with neither side managing to trouble the two goalkeepers. The game started to pick pace after the first ten minutes and the Saints broke the deadlock with the first big effort of the game, as James Ward-Prowse expertly volleyed the ball in after receiving it from Moussa Djenepo.
But Tottenham took control of the proceedings after that and got back on level terms midway through the first half through Ryan Sessegnon, who nodded in Dejan Kulusevski’s whipped cross from close range. Spurs were now in control, and Son Heung-min finally got in on the act when he set Eric Dier up with a low cross.
Southampton threatened now and then, but Tottenham remained in control for most of the remainder of the game. And Spurs duly doubled their advantage when Mohammed Salisu inadvertently bundled the ball into his own net at the end of a counter-attack from the hosts.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the catalyst in that break, and the Dane delivered the goods again when he released Emerson Royal on the right flank. The Brazilian defender then found Kulusevski in acres of space, with the Swede making no error in thumping the ball past Gavin Bazunu.
Tottenham came close to scoring a few more times but clinched a 4-1 win in the end, with the result taking them to the top of the table ahead of local rivals Arsenal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Hugo Lloris: 6/10
Lloris could not have done anything to keep out James Ward-Prowse’s effort, with his opposite number cleverly volleying the ball into the ground to beat him and the Tottenham defenders. The French goalkeeper barely had anything to do after that, with Spurs controlling the proceedings masterfully.
Cristian Romero: 6.5/10
Romero was the busiest Tottenham defender, but Southampton did not trouble him much. The Argentine held his own whenever the visitors threatened to get past him, making numerous clearances. But he was not as precise with the ball at his feet, which robs him of a better rating.
Eric Dier: 7/10
Eric Dier's first Premier League goal in over three years ? pic.twitter.com/h6e933ZnOI
— COYS.com (@COYS_com) August 6, 2022
Southampton barely called Dier into action, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur covering the Tottenham defence superbly. While the English international was not precise enough when playing out from the back, he did well to deftly nod Son Heung-min’s cross past Gavin Bazunu to hand Tottenham the lead in the first half.
Ben Davies: 6.5/10
Davies almost exclusively hugged the left touchline, covering for Ryan Sessegnon superbly. The Welsh international even charged forward when the opportunities presented themselves, but he was caught like a deer in headlights when he once got into a scoring position. All in all, it was a professional display by the experienced defender.
Emerson Royal: 7/10
Emerson made a forgettable start to the game as Moussa Djenepo sat him down before Ward-Prowse scored the opener. The Brazilian continued to face some problems from the Southampton wide man. But he slowly grew into the game and started to influence the proceedings, which was a throwback to his memorable days at Real Betis.
Emerson got in on the act after the hour mark, as his shot eventually went into the Southampton goal when Mohammed Salisu scored the own goal. Emerson then set Dejan Kulusevski up for the fourth Tottenham goal, with the Swede powering his effort into the net.
?? Emerson Royal vs. Southampton
• 1 assist
• 2 key passes
• 2 successful dribbles
• 2 fouls won
• 3 tackles won
• 7 ground duels won
• 100% take-on success pic.twitter.com/EMWtOnfyXw
— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) August 6, 2022
Rodrigo Bentancur: 7/10
Bentancur was excellent in the middle of the park as he covered the Tottenham defence smartly while being accurate when linking up with a teammate. The Uruguayan international completed 90 per cent of his attempted passes while winning seven duels and five tackles. A solid start to a season where he will compete with Yves Bissouma.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 7/10
Hojbjerg was sluggish in the game’s early stages and foolishly let Ward-Prowse aim for the goal ahead of the opener. But that is when the Dane closed the gates for Southampton, expertly protecting the Tottenham backline along with Bentancur. He was also instrumental in opening up play, playing his part in the third and fourth Tottenham goals.
Ryan Sessegnon: 7/10
Sessegnon scored the goal that brought Tottenham back on level terms and looked dangerous when he was in and around the Southampton box. But his deliveries need work, and he might drop below Ivan Perisic in the pecking order if he does not improve his crossing.
Dejan Kulusevski: 9/10
No Premier League player has more assists than Dejan Kulusevski in 2022 ? pic.twitter.com/5ZP21pUehB
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 6, 2022
Kulusevksi was the clear standout performer for Tottenham, as he ran the show for his side from the right flank. The Swede barely lost the ball while playing three key passes, including one the beautiful assist for Sessegnon’s goal. But Kulusevski saved the best for last when he produced a thumping finish to score Tottenham’s fourth strike. He laid down the marker superbly for summer arrival, Richarlison.
Harry Kane: 6/10
The infamous “August Curse” struck Kane, who was well off his best levels on Saturday. The England captain grew into the proceedings slowly and set up a late chance for Son, but he barely tested Gavin Bazunu and would hope to do better next week against Chelsea.
Son Heung-min: 7/10
Like strike partner Kane, Son was not at his best against Southampton. But last season’s Golden Boot winner slowly grew into the game and made his mark by providing the assist for Dier’s goal. He still has some way to go before he becomes the fearsome attacker he was in 2021/22.
Since Antonio Conte's appointment as Spurs manager, Heung-min Son has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other player:
Son – 19 ⚽️ 7 ?️
Kane – 16 ⚽️ 8 ?️
Salah – 14 ⚽️ 7 ?️
De Bruyne – 13 ⚽️ 8 ?️
Maddison – 11 ⚽️ 8 ?️
Best player in the Premier League. pic.twitter.com/igJfiaO8EX
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 6, 2022
Ivan Perisic: 6/10
Perisic was the first of three Tottenham summer signings making their debuts versus Southampton, with the veteran Croat getting a feel of the ball in the game’s final quarter.
Lucas Moura: N/A
Lucas Moura replaced Kulusevski with a few minutes left in regulation time, and he barely got a touch on the ball.
Clement Lenglet: N/A
Lenglet was another Tottenham summer signing making his debut off the bench, with the French international replacing Ben Davies late in the game.
Matt Doherty: N/A
A late introduction, Doherty helped see the game out.
Yves Bissouma: N/A
Bissouma was a late introduction as he made his competitive debut for Tottenham. He even got a yellow card for good measure.