Competition: Premier League – Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: St Mary’s – Saturday, April 25th – 12:45 BST (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Southampton 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Spurs 5/2
Southampton host Tottenham at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon in a huge Premier League battle for European football next season, with Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino returning back to the south coast for the first time since he left his managerial position with the Saints last summer.
Both teams are separated by just a point with Southampton on 56 in seventh and Spurs on 57 in sixth heading into this one, so a win for either side could have huge implications on who gets those all-important Europa League places for next season.
Southampton come into the lunchtime kickoff off the back of a defeat to Stoke City last weekend despite taking the lead as they went on to lose by a 2-1 scoreline, so it’s important they look to bounce back quickly in front of their own fans.Embed from Getty Images
The Saints’ last five fixtures look like games they can get something from as they look to qualify for European football for the first time in 12 seasons. With three away games after this, it’s imperative that Southampton grab all three points against Spurs to keep dreams of a top four place alive, and to reinforce Europe League claims.
One worry for the Saints is that if they fail to qualify for European football, a second summer in a row of squad dismantling could happen again with players like Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama continuously being linked with moves away.
For Tottenham, a much needed win away at Newcastle was essential to keep themselves on track for a top four finish last week.Embed from Getty Images
Harry Kane grabbed his 30th goal of the season to give the England youngster another boost for his PFA Player of the Year claims. His quality will be needed at Southampton against a well organised defence if Spurs are to get anything from the game.
For Tottenham, their run in on paper could spell the end of their top four challenge with Manchester City at home and an away trip to Stoke following Saturday’s game. Their last game of the season will see them head up to Goodison Park to play Everton and so a top four finish is looking unlikely yet again for the Lilywhites.
One deciding factor this weekend could be how Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino approaches the game.
The Argentine has coached a number of players in the Saints squad and will know their strengths and weaknesses ahead of this one after being in charge for a little under 18 months before he took the Spurs job last summer.Embed from Getty Images
The match may not be as full of goals as we would hope but it has the potential to be one of the best games of the season, as both teams are fighting for their lives with regard to a Champions League finish.
The reverse fixture at White Hart Lane finished 1-0 to Tottenham thanks to a solo goal from Christian Eriksen just before half time.
Ronald Koeman’s Southampton could be without Belgian centre-back Toby Alderweireld, who dislocated his shoulder last week, while the Saints will still be missing Fraser Forster so Kelvin Davies will retain his place between the sticks. Filip Djuricic, Jay Rodriguez, Emmanuel Mayuka are also out while Victor Wanyama is suspended.
Tottenham could welcome back France captain Hugo Lloris, providing he passes his late fitness test before the game, plus Danny Rose could also be back in line for a start but Kyle Walker is still out with his foot injury. DeAndre Yedlin is likely to start on the bench again but could see some action later on in the game if Spurs need to inject some pace down the right side.
Southampton’s last five: D/W/L/W/L
Tottenham’s last five: L/W/D/L/W
Key Stat: Tottenham have won the last five matches between the two sides, scoring ten goals in those games.Embed from Getty Images
Key Player: Christian Eriksen – The Dane has scored 3 goals in his last two matches against Southampton, so you can expect he may unlock the defence and add to his total.
Southampton 1-1 Tottenham – Difficult to see many goals in this one. There should be plenty of chances but the spoils look likely to be shared, doing neither side any favours at this late stage of the season.