After both sides suffered defeat last weekend, they will be hoping to get back on track in this fixture. Pocchetino returns to St. Mary’s with a Spurs side that are on the brink of the top four and may have announced themselves into the title race had they beaten Newcastle at home on Sunday. However, they are now nine points off the top and look set to battle it out for fourth this season. Southampton on the other hand have been fairly disappointing this time around, finding themselves in twelfth after sixteen games. Having missed out on Europa League qualification last year, they are facing even more competition just to make the top half as the Premier League has seen the quality spread more evenly across the twenty teams. Taking four points from their last five league games has been a poor return for Ronald Koeman’s men and he will be hoping to get the three points when his predecessor returns.
Another player returning is Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian defender has been in great form with Tottenham following a transfer escapade that saw the two teams fighting over his services. I would expect him to get less than favourable treatment on his first visit to the south coast. His form though, has helped Spurs in their quest for a return to Champions League football and he could be a deciding factor in the fixture on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
Graziano Pelle and Maarten Stekelenburg remain doubts for the home team after missing out on the defeat at Crystal Palace. Whilst Jay Rodriguez and Fraser Forster remain long term absentees.
Clinton N’Jié, Ryan Mason and Moussa Dembélé could be all set to sit on the sidelines this weekend for the visitors.
The two sides have met 76 times in all competitions, with Spurs coming out on top 35 of those occasions. They have also drawn 18 times, Southampton winning 23. Tottenham have scored an average of 1.71 goals per game and Southampton have managed 1.29 goals per game.
Last season, the two teams were very close, drawing 2-2 at St. Mary’s whilst Spurs edged a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane. In fact, you have to go back to the 18th December 2004 for a margin of victory greater than 1, when Spurs thumped the Saints 5-1. Since Southampton’s promotion in 2012, they have only taken one point from the Lilywhites in that 2-2 draw last season.
Dusan Tadic – Southampton’s key men have been a lot less effective than last season with players such as Tadic and Mané unable to find the kind of form that propelled the team up the table last season. Dusan Tadic has been fairly quiet in terms of goals and assists but is still creating chances and he will need to be on form if the team is to get anything out of a stern Tottenham defence.
Erik Lamela – After his first half hat-trick against Monaco last Thursday, he will be looking to carry his form into the Premier League where he is still yet to prove his capabilities. Against a Southampton side low on confidence, it could be the perfect time for him to find his feet in the top flight of English football and really show the fans what they paid around £30 million for.
With both sides keen to bounce back from losses last week, I anticipate a fairly attacking game and, given the history, a number of goals. However, Southampton’s form has been dipping for the last month or so, peaking in a 6-1 home defeat to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup. Spurs have all the capabilities of making the top four and I expect them to show their real talents in this game, winning by one or two goals.
I predict a 2-1 victory for Tottenham.