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    Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview

    By Tom Regan

    Tottenham Hotspur make the trip to Southampton for Saturday’s encounter as they look for a positive response following a dismal 2-1 home defeat to a resurgent Newcastle United.
    Mauricio Pochettino’s side wasted the opportunity to dislodge Manchester United from fourth spot, so a positive result at St. Mary’s is a must if the Spurs are to apply pressure on the sides above them.

    But the Saints have problems of their own and find themselves surprisingly in 12th place, a very different story from last season’s exploits.
    With no win in five, including a 6-1 hammering at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, Ronald Koeman’s side have struggled to find form since an outstanding 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

    Conceding goals hasn’t been the problem, but scoring certainly has. The Hampshire based club have only managed 21 goals in the league, scoring more than one goal on just one occasion in the last seven.
    If there is to be a change in fortune for Southampton, they need to start taking their chances at the other end of the pitch, but that task could prove tricky against the Lilywhites equally firm defence.

    Graziano Pelle leads the scoring charts for the Saints with six Premier League goals, but the south coast club have become far too reliant on star player Sadio Mane who has obliged with three goals and five assists. Other players must start to take more responsibility if the club are to climb the table.
    However, Pelle has failed to find the net in his last five games, and there is no viable alternative on the bench, with summer recruit Juanmi failing to live up to expectations, whilst Jay Rodriguez continues to struggle with injury.

    Having been quietly touted as potential title contenders, let alone a top four finish, the north Londoners need to show they have the mental toughness to put the Newcastle defeat behind them.
    Tottenham have found it difficult to kill off games this season, dropping 11 points from winning positions, contrasting to last season where they were able to save so many points in losing positions.

    Pochettino will be concerned about the lack of urgency shown by his side in the games against West Brom and Newcastle, but other than the Monaco game, the Argentinian has sent out near full sides in the Europa League, so fatigue may have been a factor.
    Spurs have relied on hot-shot Harry Kane to get them out of trouble, but with no other recognized striker at the club, they have had no choice but to play him in practically every game. Heung-Min Son and Clinton N’Jie can offer something different in attacking roles, but purchasing an out-and-out striker in January is essential if they are to mount a serious top four challenge.

    Team News
    Koeman will be hoping that Graziano Pelle can overcome a knee injury. Maarten Stekelenberg’s toe injury means Argentinian shot-stopper Paulo Gazzaniga will continue in goal following a solid performance against Crystal Palace. It remains to be seen whether Dusan Tadić will return to the starting XI, with some confusion surrounding his benching against the Eagles.

    After a below par performance against Newcastle, Tom Carroll is likely to lose his place to Dele Alli who has completed his one match suspension. A late decision will be made on the fitness of Mousa Dembele who has returned to training after illness.

    Clinton N’Jie is out with a knee problem, while Ryan Mason and Alex Pritchard are both out due to ankle injuries.

    The two sides have met on 76 occasions in all competitions, with the Lilywhites coming out on top in 35 of those occasions. There have been 18 draws, with Southampton victorious in 23. The north Londoners have scored an average of 1.71 goals per game and the Saints have managed 1.29 goals per game.

    Previous Meeting
    The last time the two sides met came at St. Mary’s during the latter stages of last season. The game finished 2-2 with Pelle sealing a brace. Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli found the net for the visitors.

    Betting Odds (bet365)
    Southampton: 17/10
    Draw: 12/5
    Tottenham: 9/5
    Match Prediction

    Koeman will be spurring his players to return to winning ways, especially with some even trickier games in the coming weeks. Pochettino will be equally desperate for the three points especially after the poor result against Steve McClaren’s Newcastle. I expect an edgy affair, but the attacking quality of Spurs could see them just pip their opponents. For me, an away win…just.
    Southampton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (17/2 with bet365)
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    Item Reviewed: Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Tom Regan
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