Sunday afternoon sees an emotional reunion for Spurs boss, Mauricio Pochettino, as his old side, Southampton, visit White Hart Lane.
The Argentine’s exit precipitated a summer of transfer turmoil at St. Mary’s, as five high profile players left the club. Many predicted a tough season ahead, but after the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager and the acquisition of several new signings, Southampton have made a very promising start to the new campaign and currently sit second.
Thirteen points from six games see them five points and six places above Spurs. Even leaving aside the emotions, this will be a tricky tie.
Koeman has broadly continued in this style. His team’s success so far appears to have a strong defensive element to it. Southampton have conceded the fewest shots (8 per game tied with Arsenal), made the most tackles and committed the second most fouls in the league this season.
Koeman has favoured a 4-3-3, with new striker Graziano Pelle leading the line. The Italian is great in the air and sits fifth in the Premier League in terms of aerial duels won. He is also the Saints’ top scorer with four goals and an assist.
Summer Tottenham target, Morgan Schneiderlin, keeps Southampton ticking over in central midfield – he has the most passes and tackles in the side and has scored three useful goals from midfield. How Spurs could do with his dynamism.
Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic are further impressive new additions to watch out for.
Tottenham are surprisingly favourites at 2.22, the draw is 3.55, while a Southampton win is at 3.65
For Spurs, Capoue and Rose are carrying knocks but should be fit, while there is still no return date for Kyle Walker after surgery.
Jay Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse are both long term absentees for Southampton. Maya Yoshida is also out, while Florin Gardos is doubtful.
Pochettino is likely to revert back to the team that won a creditable draw last week at Arsenal. He is effectively using a different set of outfield players for cup games, so Spurs will not be able to use tiredness as an excuse. The disruption the Europa League causes to preparation and training may be of more concern.
The midweek game helped strengthen the position of those not involved, rather than those who played. Dier and Stambouli were the only ones to make a case for promotion but will probably both find themselves on the bench.
Mason did enough last week to merit another chance in central midfield.
Let’s hope this game will be a return to the Tottenham we saw against QPR, not the one we saw against West Brom.
Prediction: Spurs 2 – Southampton 1
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