Having seen their lengthy unbeaten run come to an end last time out, Tottenham will be looking to bounce back by winning away to Southampton, to whom they have not lost since March 2005.
Just as they were around this time last season, Ronald Koeman’s men are in the midst of a disappointing run of results and as a consequence they have fallen into the bottom half. However, the Premier League table is exceptionally tight at present – which is emphasised by the fact that if the Saints win this they will be just two points behind their opponents, which is remarkable given that there are seven places between them in the current standings.
Koeman opted to revert to playing with three central defenders for the game at Crystal Palace last weekend, a move which gave his side more attacking outlets but did not prove effective enough in dealing with their opponents’ pace in wide areas. There was a lack of coordination which led to the game’s only goal and despite an improved second half showing they left South London with nothing, so they will be determined to stop the rot here.
For much of this season it has been impossible to criticise Tottenham, with too many drawn matches perhaps the sole frustration. Their game at home to struggling Newcastle United offered a very enticing incentive – the chance to move into the top four and really put themselves in the mix ahead of the festive period. But it ended up as a bit of a letdown, taking the lead but never quite reaching a high level of performance, and they paid the price in conceding two late goals.
As the second half wore on it seemed as though the game was slipping away from Spurs and so it proved, so as he reflects on a huge missed opportunity boss Mauricio Pochettino returns to his former club desperate for a victory. Meanwhile, somebody else is making his St. Mary’s Stadium comeback, and it will be interesting to see what kind of reception Toby Alderweireld receives after rejecting the chance to make his loan move to Southampton permanent in the summer in order to move to Spurs instead.
Paulo Gazzaniga will remain in goal for Southampton due to an injury to Maarten Stekelenburg, but striker Graziano Pelle should make his comeback.
Tottenham could have Mousa Dembele back after illness and Nabil Bentaleb may make his first appearance in the Premier League since September. However, Ryan Mason is still out.
Played for both – Peter Crouch: Despite making an impact in the early years of his career, Crouch’s reputation was built at Southampton, where he netted 12 times in 27 Premier League games although the club finished bottom of the table. After high-profile spells at Liverpool and Portsmouth, he was off to Tottenham in 2009 and in a two-year stay he managed 12 goals in 73 league outings.