Southampton welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the South Coast this weekend, in a meeting of two teams low on morale. The hosts were expected to push into the top half and it has only been one week, but their first two performances will worry supporters. They have lost to Crystal Palace and Brentford without scoring a goal. Meanwhile, the visitors were also beaten on the opening weekend, before nearly suffering a humiliating defeat to Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the Europa League. Neither side will be full of confidence heading into Sunday’s game.
Ralph Hasenhuttl is regarded as one of the most exciting coaches in the Premier League. Many believe he will follow Mauricio Pochettino in moving into the top tier of club management when he leaves Southampton. There are few teams in the league that press high up the pitch as well as the Saints do. That should be a positive in this fixture, as Tottenham will start with Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld in defence. Both can give the ball away when pressed high, while the attacking instincts of Matt Doherty will leave space for Moussa Djenepo and Danny Ings to exploit. This match-up should suit Southampton. Despite their poor start, they will be hopeful of a good result on Sunday.
Although they performed badly against Everton, the media focus hasn’t been on that. Rather, the return of Gareth Bale and the incoming signing of Sergio Reguilon has been the story at Tottenham this week. It shows an intent from Daniel Levy to see his team return to the Champions League swiftly, as a 31-year-old Bale isn’t a long term signing. Neither will feature this weekend, but it may provide existing players with motivation to perform better. It is early in the season, but they can’t afford to be cut adrift too soon.
Last season, Southampton lost ten of their 19 Premier League home matches. This was their worst home campaign since 1993-4.
If Tottenham lose on Sunday, it will be the first time they have started a Premier League season with back-to-back defeats since the 2011-12 season.
The Southampton striker will be determined to get off the mark this weekend, as he tries to prove his 22-goal season wasn’t a flash in the pan. It is important to follow that up with another impressive scoring campaign. Totttenham will be aware of his talents, as he is believed to be on their summer wish-list, as they try to source a back-up to Harry Kane. At the age of 28, Ings is in the peak of his career and shouldn’t be a squad player at a top-six team. He has already done this at Liverpool. Despite two losses already, Southampton are a team on the up and the England international is their talisman. In the corresponding fixture last season, he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the home side. He will be the player that Spurs are most fearful of, especially given their vulnerabilities at the back. Matt Doherty struggled positionally last weekend and left a lot of space in Tottenham’s right channel. Ings likes to pull into this area and he will be targeting this space on Sunday. As ever with Southampton, if they are to win, Ings is likely to be the match-winner.
The South Korean will be desperate to impress following the news that Gareth Bale will be joining the club. Although the Welshman is unlikely to take his position, Son will be seen by many as the third attacker, behind Bale and Kane. During the last four seasons, the 28-year-old has hit double figures for goals each time. Last year, he managed to reach double figures for assists. This was the first time he had managed this feat during his Tottenham career. As the season progresses, he might be relied on more for his creativity than his own scoring prowess. However, until Bale adapts back to life in North London, he will need to support Kane and help Spurs have a good start to the season. Southampton like to play a high line, which will benefit Son, as he has the pace to run into space behind the opposition defence. Tottenham will be looking to unleash him on Sunday and he will cause problems.
Nathan Redmond will be missing, as he picked up an ankle injury. Stuart Armstrong could be fit to feature, but he remains a doubt. Moussa Djenepo is the most likely to come into the attack in the place of Redmond.
Tottenham don’t have many injury concerns, but Mourinho will look to rotate due to their packed schedule. Dele Alli could be in line for a recall after sitting out of the trip to Bulgaria.
This should be a great match-up with both teams having players to expose the other’s weaknesses. Tottenham will need to show more urgency than they did last weekend, as Southampton will play at high intensity. Although the hosts aren’t in good form, they usually do well against top six opposition, with their result in this fixture last season being evidence of that. There should be goals at both ends. A score draw looks to be a good bet, as neither have shown enough yet to be considered likely winners.
Southampton 2-2 Tottenham