Southampton are the visitors to White Hart Lane this Sunday. The south coast side are having a good season after battling relegation last term. They currently sit eighth, eight points behind Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton’s Argentine manager, has impressed in his spell at the Saints and is one of several coaches to be linked with the manager’s position at Spurs.
At the start of the season Southampton were flying high and even looked like challenging for the Champions League positions. They have dropped away slightly after a poor spell around Christmas, but are currently on a reasonable run of form having beaten relegation strugglers Norwich and Crystal Palace in their last two games. In our meeting earlier in the season at St. Mary’s, Spurs won 3-2 in an end-to-end match.
Southampton play a possession based game, they are second only to Swansea in the Premier League average possession table. Where they differ is in pass success rate – Swansea top this too but Southampton are way down in eighth. This is probably due to a more direct style of play, including more long passes. When not in possession they are very aggressive at pressing and recovering the ball. They make the second most tackles and commit the third most fouls in the league.
They normally line up 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Ricky Lambert is the spearhead of their attack, with nine goals in the league this season. He is ably supported by fellow England hopefuls Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez in midfield. This attacking trio have been very successful and will provide much of the threat to Spurs’ defence.
Tottenham have little left to play for this season after losing to Chelsea and Arsenal, and going out of the Europa League in midweek. In the league, Spurs’ form is poor, having lost three of the last four, only scoring one goal in the process (Soldado’s cathartic strike against Cardiff). We showed a bit more fight in the games against Benfica and Arsenal and, in the remainder of the season, will be looking to regain some pride and finish as high up the league table as possible.
Some of the midweek injury victims should return, including Emmanuel Adebayor and Moussa Dembele. We may actually have two recognised centre backs available, as Kaboul comes back from a knock and Vertonghen returns from suspension.
Chadli finally made his mark as a Spurs player in Lisbon and should start for a third consecutive match. I have been impressed with both Naughton and Fryers in recent games; with Rose and Walker both doubtful, I would play them here.
We may as well go all out for the win, so unusually for me I would play 4-4-2. With the threat on the wings of Lennon and Chadli, and Eriksen in central midfield behind the strikers, this should provide Adebayor and Soldado with some decent service.
Bentaleb also played well in midweek, keeping the ball moving in midfield. With Southampton’s pressing game this will be especially key. He is still inexperienced and has a habit of giving the ball away in dangerous situations (see the move that lead to the Benfica penalty). Hopefully he will learn when to take risks and when not to, and better positioning. If so he could be a great player.
The key for Soldado and Adebayor is movement. They must get in behind the defence and at times drop back to provide numbers in midfield.
Here is my team for the game, injuries permitting:
Let me know what you think and the team you’d select in the comments section below.