Spurs begin the new Premier League season with a comfortable 4-1 home win over Southampton; James Ward-Prowse had given Saints the lead but Spurs responded with goals from Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, Dejan Kulusevski and a Mohammed Salisu own goal
Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte believes it was “common sense” to not start any of his new summer signings as his side began their new Premier League season with a comfortable 4-1 home win over Southampton.
The visitors took a surprise lead in the 12th minute through James Ward-Prowse’s superb downward volley, but the home side equalised just nine minutes later as Ryan Sessegnon scored his first Premier League goal for Spurs with a back-post header.
Antonio Conte’s side went ahead in the 31st minute as Eric Dier’s clever glancing header – his first goal in three years – saw Spurs take a half-time lead.
A comical own goal from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu in the 61st minute gave Tottenham their third of the afternoon with Dejan Kulusevski immediately adding a fourth with a neat curling finish.
But the victory came as Conte decided against starting any of his new signings with Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet, Fraser Forster and Djed Spence all beginning on the bench, while Richarlison was suspended.
Perisic, Bissouma and Lenglet were brought on in the second half, but when asked why he did not start the new signings, the Italian explained: “I’m not surprised because I think I used common sense.
“In this moment we are starting the new season and the old players reached a big achievement last season to get a place in the Champions League. In the last 10 games, I think we played really well and we had fantastic results.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says he was happy with his Spurs sides performance as they swept Southampton aside to win 4-1 on the opening day
“My message was very clear. I trust a lot in the old players and in this moment they are more reliable than the new players because they need to continue to work with us and to implement their football knowledge.
“With the old players, I am a step forward than the new players. For this reason, I prefer to count on the old players. I think that it was right after this game and the final result.
“But I am really happy because we have new signings who will go into our process and they will help us to improve but at the same time they have to know that they have to fight and give me the possibility to rotate.
Spurs new signing Ivan Perisic made a second-half substitute appearance against Saints
“Now we are going to play one game in a week, but in September we start to play every three days and for sure I have to rotate. It’s important for a club like Tottenham to not drop the level or drop the quality when rotating.
“I think it was the first target and I was very clear with the club and the club totally agreed with me.”
How Spurs recovered emphatically against soft Saints…
There was plenty of optimism at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after a busy period of transfer activity as Spurs fans looked forward to a home Premier League game at 3pm on Saturday in nearly three years.
But that hope was quickly dented as the visitors, who started three new summer signings, took a shock lead through captain Ward-Prowse after he volleyed home Moussa Djenepo’s clipped cross.
Sessegnon, who was preferred at left wing-back ahead of Perisic, repaid Conte’s faith by quickly equalising from Kulusevski’s whipped cross.
Ryan Sessegnon celebrates scoring Spurs’ equaliser
It was another header from a defender that gave Spurs the lead as Dier continued his solid form at the end of last season to deftly nod in Heung-Min Son’s cross.
Sessegnon nearly had a second goal just seconds after the restart but his low finish was ruled out for offside.
Despite Ralph Hasenhuttl’s tactical switch at half-time, Spurs continued to swamp Saints and their pressure paid off as Salisu comically turned in Emerson Royal’s cross-come-shot (61) as he miskicked his clearance.
A shocked Saints defence then conceded again two minutes later as the outstanding Kulusevski fired in a curling effort to make it a miserable debut for new Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who could do nothing about any of the Spurs goals.
Man of the match: Dejan Kulusevski
A goal and assist from Dejan Kulusevski continues his fine form from last season, with his quality on the ball giving Southampton so many problems.