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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 20 December 2004  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

These are the sort of afternoons you long for as a football fan. Slick play, incisive finishing, a bit of showboating and, above all, a comfortable win.

We had all of the above at the Lane on Saturday and Southampton were cast in the role of sometimes bemused onlookers as Martin Jol's vision is begins to evolve into the early stages of reality. We certainly hope so, anyway.

Jermain's Defoe's hat-trick will grab the headlines, but Michael Carrick was sublime in midfield and Fredi Kanoute dazzling in attack.

There was a funny few moments before the game started with the mascot assigned to Michael Brown for the pre-match ritual being roughly the same size as the midfielder and Brownie had to step to one side to been seen in the team picture. The mascot might have been better off walking out in tandem with Anthony Gardner. Given the similarity in size Michael and his mascot clearly resisted holding hands as they emerged from the tunnel!

Billy Wingrove was introduced to the fans ahead of kick-off by pre-match presenter Brian Alexander. Billy is our new Spurs Freestyler - full of brilliant ball tricks basically - and will be holding courses for the Football in the Community scheme.

The beginning of this game wasn't really freestyle though, more of a crawl as the boys set about attempting to extend the three game winning run. Reto Ziegler returned to the side and took his place on the left, Rohan Ricketts swapped to the right with Pedro Mendes on the bench. Jermain Defoe came back after suspension, preferred to Robbie Keane, while Gardner came in for the injured Noureddine Naybet.

Southampton began in a determined fashion and Noe Pamarot had to be alert to flick away a whipped cross from Mikael Nilsson. For some reason, the aforementioned presenter Alexander always refers to the French full-back as Para-mot, which is not very BBC FiveLive!

With just seven minutes on the clock Kanoute took advantage of some defensive uncertainty down the right flank and made a dash for the bye-line with Defoe lurking with considerable menace. The crowd were howling for Fredi to square, but he held his nerve, took an extra step or two before rolling the ball back for Defoe to slam past Antti Niemi for his 12th goal of the season.

It was nice to hear Fredi getting most of the adulation following the goal for his superb assist - also probably belated appreciation from those not in Manchester last week to witness his fine winning strike. He is certainly starting to look the part again.

There was further great work from Kanoute ten minutes later when he took up possession on the other wing before working the ball back to the lively Michael Carrick who took a low pot shot at goal. Defoe then should have doubled the lead from a free shot at Niemi before doing exactly that on 26 minutes.

Kanoute had the ball some 35 yards out before being challenged by Paul Telfer. He won the challenge but sent the ball in the direction of his own goal and into the path of a grateful Defoe who duly slotted low past Niemi.

Some of the most impressive football seen at the Lane this season was nearly further rewarded when Kanoute scampered clear to the left of the Saints area and dispatched a high shot that was brilliantly parried away by Niemi. Pamarot then headed over when a goal looked certain following an inviting cross from Thimothee Atouba.

A three-goal lead was secured two minutes before the break and it was Kanoute with the deserved strike. A measured ball over the top by Carrick was bought under control by the striker who then 'gave Niemi the eyes' and sidefooted low fast the Finn.

The second period did not begin in the manner we wished, a spooned clearance by Ledley King on the six yard box ballooned up in the air, Robinson got caught in no man's land and Peter Crouch nodded home to reduce the deficit. A few nerves set in around the Lane.

Kanoute responded with another leg-stretching dash down the left, but this time a Southampton foot connected first with his cross.

The three-goal advantage was thankfully restored on the hour when Brown bundled his way through on the edge of the area, fired in a shot that Niemi blocked, but that man Defoe was on hand to steer in the goal to complete his hat-trick and 14th goal of the campaign.

The crowd of 36,054 were cheering every completed pass after this point as the boys stroked the ball around with great precision and confidence. Saints fans could no longer suggest 'we're gonner win 4-3' and the Lane turned into a party venue.

Kevin Phillips nearly became a pooper with 13 minutes to go, his fierce drive from about ten yards was gathered expertly by Robinson low to his right. Harry Redknapp looked agitated, the look of a man who knows he has a fair bit of work to do to put his team back on an even keel. Transfer windows are usually to his liking and the forthcoming one he will no doubt be active in.

He would have been given more food for thought when Carrick dinked one up in the air for Keane to latch onto late on - Niemi making an uncharacteristic error in letting the ball squirm under his body and into the net. Good to get all three strikers on the scoresheet.

For us now, we head into the busy festive period in rather good heart. Four Premiership wins out of four and a trip to Norwich on Boxing Day to look forward to before homes games against Crystal Palace and Everton.

Happy Christmas!