After a somewhat shaky October and November, Tottenham have really hit their stride. Since the start of December, Spurs have won eight and drawn two from eleven games across all competitions, including six wins from their last eight in the Premier League.
Facing a Southampton side this Sunday who entered the weekend just one point and one place above the relegation zone, Mauricio Pochettino’s boys will feel confident of maintaining that impressive streak at St. Mary’s. But Saints shouldn’t be underestimated – they have more talent than their league position suggests – and a turnaround in results at some point seems inevitable.
So, will Tottenham march to another victory or could they come unstuck on the south coast? This week’s expert – Spurs supporter Charles Perrin of The Daily Express – shares his thoughts and predictions ahead of Sunday’s 4pm kickoff.
While Tottenham’s results may have stepped up of late, they still aren’t quite the same formidable outfit as last season when they pressed Chelsea in the title race, particularly on the road. In fact, the north Londoners have already lost as many away games as last season in the Premier League – four – and have especially struggled against their top six rivals.
Why have Tottenham found it tougher on the road this season?
Charles: “Certainly Tottenham’s away form, particularly against clubs in and around the top four, has been a real cause for concern. Spurs have shown a mental inferiority complex – something that has plagued them in the past. The performances against Arsenal and Manchester City clearly displayed a lack of confidence and ability to follow a game plan.”
Most of Tottenham’s squad is relatively settled at this point of the campaign, but if there’s one long-standing selection dilemma, it’s undoubtedly on the defensive flanks with four talented full-backs to choose from. Danny Rose’s injury has spared Pochettino one headache this weekend, but he still has to decide between summer signing Serge Aurier and England’s Kieran Trippier at right-back.
Which defender is best-suited to the Southampton game?
Charles: “Serge Aurier has been fabulous at times, but also been a bit rash and over-exuberant too. I would probably go with Kieran Trippier as he’s also very quick, but his final ball is pretty much faultless.”
Tottenham’s attacking cast is the envy of many; few in the Premier League offer the same mixture of quality, youth and further potential as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. But this season particularly has seen a new force emerge in the form of Heung-min Son. The South Korean scored regularly during his first two campaigns at White Hart Lane as well, but his performances this term have kicked up a gear – eight goals and four assists in just 16 Premier League starts.
Is Son now Tottenham’s most important player after Kane?
Charles: “Son is definitely underrated and doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. He has been instrumental and some of the goals he’s scored shows he’s a natural finisher. I would probably say he’s the most important player after Kane, although Eriksen deserves a mention too.”
It’s no secret what Southampton’s biggest problem has been this season – scoring goals. They’ve netted just 23 times in the Premier League but it’s not a question of lacking quality; Saints have also created the seventh-most chances of any side in the division. Although Tottenham will certainly fancy themselves this Sunday, the visitors would be wise not to underestimate Southampton at home.
Who do you see as Southampton’s biggest threat?
Charles: “I would probably go with Shane Long. Southampton have been in a real rut, and while he ended a long goal drought recently, he’s a slippery customer and Spurs will have to pay close attention to him.”
And finally Charles, let’s hear your score prediction…
Charles: “Spurs beat Saints 5-2 last time out at Wembley and I think it will be another tough afternoon for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men again. I’m going with a 3-1 victory for Spurs and Harry Kane to bag a couple.”
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