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.
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:
Yedlin – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of the trip to Southampton: