Mauricio Pochettino returns to St. Mary’s for the first time since making his summer switch to Tottenham, adding a subplot to what should be an intriguing encounter between these 2 clubs chasing European qualification.
Spurs currently sit 6th in the table and level on points with 5th placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand to play. Southampton meanwhile are nipping at their heals just a point behind, so this game could have huge ramifications for both clubs as well as Liverpool who face West Brom in the 3 o’clock kickoffs and Hull on Tuesday night.
Tottenham and Southampton’s quest for Champions League football is all but over, but there is still European football at stake in terms of the Europa league. Some Spurs fans may feel a year off Europe could help their domestic campaign as it did Liverpool and Manchester United, but equally the success of Pochettino’s 1st season in charge could hinge on where they finish in the table in what has been a campaign of mixed fortunes.
It has been a fantastic and encouraging season for Southampton considering the enormous transformation they underwent this summer, but their performances have not been as convincing of late and a win over their former boss would give them a huge boost. A victory would also lift them into 5th place at least until the 3 o’clock fixtures get underway.
Spurs are coming off the back of a convincing victory over a nose-diving Newcastle side, and this was a much needed win after poor performances against Burnley and Newcastle saw them pick up just 1 point. Considering the poor play of Manchester City of late, this is much to the frustration of Spurs who could still be on track to qualify for the Champions League.
Southampton lost to Stoke last time out, and this surprising defeat dealt their Champions League quest a huge blow. Koeman’s side will be disappointed with their loss, but regardless of whether they qualify for Europe or not it will have been a tremendous season for the south coast team who many thought would be scrapping at in the lower half of the table this season.
The reverse fixture back in October saw Pochettino get a 1-0 victory over his former employers, and it was just Southampton’s 2nd loss of the season and ended a 6 game winning streak for the Saints. Christian Eriksen was the only goalscorer in the game, and the lunch time kick off should also be a close encounter between these evenly matched teams.
Southampton have the best defence in the league and have conceded just 24 times, and they have kept clean sheets in their last 3 home fixtures. This will be tested by a Spurs team led by Harry Kane, who is tied with Sergio Aguero for the league’s top scorer with an impressive 20 goals. Spurs are also excellent away from home, having won 8 games on their travels.
This should all ensure for a fantastic match in Pochettino’s return to St. Mary’s, where there is a great deal at stake for both teams.
Toby Alderweireld could return to the Southampton defence after leaving the pitch on a stretcher with a shoulder injury last time out. Victor Wanyama will miss out due to suspension, whilst Fraser Forster, Filip Djuricic and Jay Rodriguez remain sidelined.
Tottenham’s star keeper and captain Hugo Lloris will be assessed ahead of the match, whilst Kyle Walker is out with a foot problem which could sideline him for the rest of the campaign.