Match Preview, Southampton vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Saturday 25th April 2015. 12:45pm Kick Off.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: St Mary’s.

TV: Live on BT Sport 1. Worldwide TV schedule can be found HERE.

Mauricio Pochettino returns to St Mary’s for the first time since his switch from Southampton to Tottenham, with just one point between the sides, one position on the table, and the same amount of wins between them. It’s a match in the battle for Europa League – with Southampton probably the more enthusiastic about that prospect, but, nevertheless, we want to finish as high in the League as possible, so the fact that Champions League football is most likely out of the picture does not mean that the team, the fans and the whole club want to win and finish the season on a high. A tough task awaits us at St Mary’s; with Southampton showing consistently throughout the season how good they can be, and how many problems they can cause an opposing side. To beat the Saints on their home turf would be a great result, but Southampton have the quality to hurt any team in this League, meaning we’re setting up for a very tough game, where we have to be ready to match the offense, defence and energy levels of a confidence high Southampton side, with a lot of quality throughout their squad. After our much needed win over Newcastle at St James’ Park, we need to continue to win games to finish the season strongly, taking the confidence from a solid 3-1 win and turning it into an even better win against a really impressive Southampton side – putting the disappointing form we have had since the Capital One Cup Final behind us. Champions League may be out of the equation, but we still have to secure the highest League place possible – for pride more than anything.

Southampton sit 7th in the League on 56 points, just one point behind ourselves in 6th. They’ve had a great season after losing their manager, and five of their key players of last season, and they’ve reinvested well to create a really competitive side this season. Coming into the end of the season, the Saints haven’t been in the best of form, with four wins in their last ten games, and four losses. In their last match, Southampton fell to a 2-1 defeat up against Stoke City at the Britannia, Charlie Adam hitting the winner in the 85th minute for the Potters. In their last home game, Southampton breezed past Hull City 2-0, James Ward-Prowse and Graziano Pelle scoring for the Saints, now Southampton will be hoping for a repeat result this Saturday! In our last five matches with Southampton since their return to the Premier League, we have come out winners in every single match, scoring 10 goals and conceding five. In our last match, we were 1-0 winners thanks to a lovely Christian Eriksen strike at White Hart Lane; Mauricio Pochettino getting the victory over his former club. The last time we visited St Mary’s; we won a thrilling game 3-2, Emmanuel Adebayor the hero with two goals, as well as a Jos Hooiveld own goal under the guidance of Tim Sherwood. If we can get six consecutive wins under our belt over an impressive Southampton side, it would do very nicely!

The team news for Southampton is that Victor Wanyama (suspended), Fraser Forster (knee), Filip Duricic (ankle), Emmanuel Mayuka (groin), and Jay Rodriguez (knee) have been ruled out while Toby Alderweireld (shoulder) could feature for the Saints, but is a doubt. Southampton have many talented offensive players to their name, and their top scorer this season Graziano Pelle has nine goals to his name in the League, and despite a disappointing 2015 so far, netting only once, he is still a massive threat with his aerial prowess, strength and finishing ability – and with supply coming from the creative brains of Saido Mane, Dusan Tadic and Eljero Elia, he should really be scoring even more goals. The way that Ronald Koeman sets up means his fullbacks have a massive impact on their offensive game; Nathanial Clyne has been superb this season at right back, with his partner in crime, left back Ryan Bertrand’s performances similarly impressive – they are key for the Saints, and if not properly dealt with, could cause major problems for us down the wings – especially the right hand side where we have looked particularly shaky, with and without Kyle Walker. In midfield, the partnership of Morgan Schneiderlin and James Ward-Prowse has really impressed me, with the pivot having a good mix between defensive cover and attacking help, bringing real energy to this Southampton side – meaning Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb, if picked to partner each other, will have a big task to quash the impact they have on the match.Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 20.29.38
The team news for Tottenham is that Hugo Lloris (knee) is close to a return, and could make this match, but Kyle Walker (foot) is ruled out for the next four weeks. Danny Rose after going off against Newcastle last week hasn’t encountered any problems and should be back at left back for this match, which is very good news for us. With Hugo Lloris looking likely to return to action, he would take the captaincy back from deputies Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane.

Coming into the end of the season, personal awards are some of the most talked about things, only being dwarfed by the results in the League table. And nobody is being talked about for awards more than Harry Kane – he’s entered for PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, as well as in the hunt for Writers player of the year, a place in the Team of the Year, while all the while competing for the Premier League golden boot. He’s also got a club called Tottenham if you didn’t know! Everyone at Tottenham couldn’t be more proud of the rise that Harry has made throughout the season, and he deserves more than anyone to be recognised for his work this season – there arent enough positives in the English language to describe how amazing he has been, not just in his goal tally, but his energy, overall contribution and his breath of fresh air attitude to the game – you don’t captain Tottenham Hotspur at 21 years of age if you aren’t even a little bit special. Heading into the last games of the season, we’re all rooting for Kane to grab every personal award he possibly can, while helping Tottenham to their highest League position possible! Harry Kane beating Aguero, Costa, Rooney, Hazard and co to the Golden Boot was unfathamable at the start of this year let alone this season – now it would be a shock if he didn’t get it.

Against Newcastle, where we started to find a bit of form again, it wasn’t just Harry Kane that stole the show, there were important goals from Nacer Chadli – a goal he deeply needed, as well as another from Christian Eriksen which was also well over-due whether he meant to get it or not! Chadli and Eriksen are absolutely vital to the side and having them back in form would take a weight off the shoulders of Harry Kane, while making it much easier and fluid for us up top – an inform trio of Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane is a force to be reckoned with, and as we come into the back end of the season, hopefully we can see more good performances from them and much more goals! In midfield, Mauricio Pochettino has a decision to make regarding Paulinho – who did a good job in Newcastle, and so the Boss needs to make the decision whether to stick with the Brazilian, or bring in the fresh Ryan Mason to partner Nabil Bentaleb, who have quite the understanding. Personally, to battle with Schneiderlin and Ward-Prowse, I would revert back to the Mason and Bentaleb pivot, as it gives us more energy in the middle, and a bit more grit, despite Paulinho showing he can do the dirty work against Newcastle last weekend. Another decision Pochettino will have on his mind is one to either bring in DeAndre Yedin to make his full debut at right back, or stick with natural centre back Eric Dier on that right flank, putting Federico Fazio alongside Jan Vertonghen. I think Yedlin should be given a chance at right back from the start, with Dier partnering Vertonghen – I think this gives us a more balanced back four.

Match stats provided by StatsZone:

– Southampton have allowed fewer shots on target against them than any other team in the Barclays Premier League (93).

– Tottenham have won their last five Premier League games against Southampton after losing four of the preceding five meetings.

– Christian Eriksen has scored three goals in three Premier League games against Saints.

– Robbie Fowler (twice) and Chris Sutton are the only two players to reach 20 goals in a Premier League season at a younger age than Harry Kane has this term.

– Southampton have both scored (4%) and conceded (8%, level with Liverpool) the lowest proportion of headed goals this season.

– If only second-halves of Premier League games counted this season, Saints would be second in the table behind only Chelsea.

– Southampton have scored just eight goals in their last 11 Premier League matches.

– 56 points after 33 matches is Southampton’s best ever Premier League performance, eight points ahead of the previous best which was 48 (2013/14 and 2002/03).

– Spurs have fewer points after 33 matches of this season (57) than they had in any of the last three seasons (2011-12 59, 2012-13 61 or 2013-14 59).

– Spurs have fired in more shots on target from outside the area than any other team (69) and scored a joint-division high 11 goals from long range (along with Man City).

Mauricio Pochettino returns to St Mary’s in a big game in the race for European football. It’s a tough challenge, but a sixth win on the bounce over Southampton is on the agenda. Hopefully we can get that victory! The game is being shown live on BT Sport 1, and I will be at the game, but update you as much as possible live from St Mary’s! Let’s get three points! Follow me on twitter for updates here, @AddictedToSpurs! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred side to face Southampton at St Mary’s:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Yedlin – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of the trip to Southampton:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Southampton.

Match date & time: Sunday 5th October 2014. 2:05pm KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Not televised in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

This game has become very important. At White Hart Lane, against a well drilled, offensively exciting team, we have to be on top form to get the full three points. This match has become a must win after we have failed to win a Premier League game since the thrashing of QPR in just our second game of the season. Since then, we have lost twice and drawn twice, which is not up to Tottenham standard with 6 games gone. Mauricio Pochettino knows we have to improve – to be more clinical in front of goal when we get the chances, more creative & purposeful when we have possession and defensively solid when under pressure. We showed a lot of good, positive things against Arsenal last week, but now we need to turn that form into a winning formula again in the Premier League, and not be left playing catch up on the rest so early in the season. It is important, though, that if things don’t click, that we remain behind Mauricio Pochettino, because he needs time to build & mould this squad into his team, and only then can we judge him objectively. Knee-jerk reactions help nobody, we have learnt that the hard way. We have a very talented manager, who our players have warmed to magnificently. Now we – the fans – have to give him the time to succeed.

This will be the first time Mauricio Pochettino has faced his former side, he was replaced by Ronald Koeman, who has done a fantastic job in the hot seat, when everything was looking so bleak for Southampton, he has turned it into a very positive, forward thinking club that nobody expected it would be this season after so much upheaval. Southampton have started this season spectacularly and sit in second place in the Premier League. After Liverpool beat them 2-1 at Anfield on the opening day of their season, they are unbeaten in all competitions, with just 1 draw (to West Brom) against their name. They have won 4 Premier League games on the trot, scoring 10 goals and conceding just 2 goals, which has led them to second in the table, only 3 points behind the supposedly unstoppable Chelsea. Tottenham sit in 8th place, 5 points off Southampton in second. At this early stage in the season, the table can change dramatically with just a couple of wins or a couple of losses, and hopefully Tottenham can get a few wins under the belt now and push in from that Arsenal result. In our last 2 meetings with Southampton, the scores have been 3-2 in favour of Tottenham. Hopefully, we see a great game like that, with a similar result for Tottenham.

The team news for Southampton is that James Ward-Prowse (foot), Maya Yoshida (ankle), Lloyd Isgrove (knee), Sam Gallagher (knee) and Jay Rodriguez (knee) are out of the game at the Lane, with Florin Gardos (calf) a doubt. Southampton have some extremely talented players going forward; their wingers/attacking midfielders are their biggest threat in my opinion. Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mané are both really creative, exciting players that can make things happen in the final third. Tadic has 3 assists in 6 appearances in the Premier League, and has created many more chances, while Mané has 2 assists in his first 2 games with Southampton. These players are making an instant impact after coming into the squad in the summer window, which is what you want from new signings after a lot of your best players have departed. In the middle of the park, the man that makes Southampton tick round and does the dirty work is Morgan Schneiderlin, from his deep lying role in midfield, he makes Southampton move the ball quickly, and when they don’t have the ball he is trying to win it back, making tackles and interceptions all over the park. I think Schneiderlin is Southampton’s most influential player and there’s no guessing as to why Tottenham were sniffing around in the summer window. The finisher of the team is Graziano Pelle, he has been in great form since coming in from Feyenoord scoring 5 goals in 8 appearances in all competitions, but it’s not just his Goalscoring form that has impressed, it’s his ability to bring the ball down and play in his midfielders around him. His hold up play is very good and he is a strong, imposing player, who is a good outlet for a Southampton team that play very nice football across the floor.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, and that is our only injury for this game. A fully fit and ready squad, which is extremely pleasing, but also very rare in Tottenham’s case! For the Besiktas game, Danny Rose and Etienne Capoue had knocks but they are ready and fit for the game against Southampton. After making 10 changes to the team in midweek, the team will be fresh and hopefully ready to get three points at White Hart Lane.

The team picks itself mostly, I think. But the one position that divides opinion throughout the fan base is up top. Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane are the options, with Emmanuel Adebayor starting every Premier League game so far this season, only getting 1 goal and disappointing in his work rate and ability to get into the position to finish chances, and when he gets the chances, isn’t finishing them! Roberto Soldado would be the likely replacement, with 2 goals in 3 starts so far this season, but his work rate, in my opinion, isn’t much better than Emmanuel Adebayor and isn’t getting himself into the areas to score goals when he plays. With all that said, I would start with the younger option, Harry Kane, up top on his own. He has showed his ability on numerous occasions to score goals, all sorts of goals, and he works his socks off every time he gets onto the pitch, so I think Pochettino should put faith in Harry Kane and give him a chance to start in the Premier League. If there was a finishing competition between Adebayor, Soldado and Kane today, I think Harry Kane would win. Kane’s performance against Besiktas in midweek was outstanding from the rest and for that, I think he deserves a start. However, if I were to predict the starter, I think Emmanuel Adebayor will again get the nod. Nacer Chadli has been brilliant so far this season, scoring very important goals, and hopefully he can continue that this Sunday against Southampton. If Nacer can keep fit, I’m sure he can get 10+ goals this season and be very useful to us, playing either on the left, or as a second striker.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– Two Spurs players scored braces in 3-2 wins over Southampton in last season’s Barclays Premier League games (Adebayor and Eriksen).

– Mauricio Pochettino comes up against his former club who he coached for 54 Premier League games with a record of W19 D18 L17.

– Tottenham have won all four Premier League games against Saints since the south coast club’s return to the top flight.

– Southampton’s total of 13 points from six games is their best since claiming 14 in 1983-84.

– Spurs have lost their last two home Premier League games. The last time they lost three in a row on home soil was in September 2008 under Juande Ramos.

– Southampton have won three of their last five Premier League away games (W3 D1 L1).

– Graziano Pelle has scored four goals in his last four Premier League outings.

– Since August 2012, Pelle has scored 54 goals in 63 league appearances.

– Sadio Mane has made five assists in five league games this season (Premier League and Austrian Bundesliga).

– The 19 players to have made a Premier League appearance for Southampton this season are made up of 14 different nationalities; the most diverse of PL teams.

A massive game is on the horizon! Although I’m sure it’ll be tight, nervous and tough, I am confident we can build on the performance against Arsenal and get back to winning ways. The game is not televised, but I’ll try to update as much as I can from White Hart Lane and find everyone a stream. Follow me on Twitter, here: @AddictedToSpurs.

My predicted/preferred team to face Southampton at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Naughton – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Capoue – Mason
Lamela – Chadli – Eriksen
Kane (preferred)/Adebayor (predicted).

Mauricio Pochettino previews Tottenham vs Southampton:

Who do you think should start up front against Southampton? Comment below!