Jose Mourinho’s men will look to resume their league campaign on a positive note at the turn of the New Year when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton.
Tottenham Hotspur will have the chance to inch closer to the top four spots in the Premier League when they will make their trip to the St. Mary’s to face Southampton on New Year’s Day.
Southampton will be oozing with confidence after their boxing day upset against Chelsea and even their stalemate against Crystal Palace was a decent result. And, they will look to carry that form to this fixture against Spurs.
Spurs, on the other hand, only managed a draw against Norwich City and have won just two of their last three league games, conceding five goals in the process. Therefore, it will be a test for Jose Mourinho and his men to organize the defence and start the year on a positive note.
The last time both the sides met was back in September this season when the Lilywhites edged past the Saints 2-1 w with Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane scoring for the hosts and Danny Ings netting for the visitors. Serge Aurier was handed his marching orders in that game. We at The Hard Tackle will take a closer look at the teams ahead of this clash.
Tactics & Team News
The Saints are not carrying any fresh injuries heading into this fixture and Michael Obafemi can be on his way into the starting eleven, while Shane Long and Yan Valery remain doubtful for the match. Ralph Hasenhuttl will look to stick with his flat 4-4-2 formation and look to capitalize on Tottenham’s loopholes in defence.
The experienced custodian Alex McCarthy has been the mainstay under the bar for the Saints and it will remain that way against Spurs. Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand will slot in at the full-back positions with Jack Stephens pairing up with Jan Bednarek at the heart of the defence.
In midfield, Stuart Armstrong who sat out the fixture against Crystal Palace is likely to return on the right flank with Nathan Redmond adding width on the left. James Ward-Prowse and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will be the men in the middle as the former will add creativity and the latter will bring stability. Hasenhuttl can also opt for Oriol Romeu if he wants to add more steel to his midfield.
In attack, it will be tough for the Austrian tactician to pick only two from three options but with Michael Obafemi recently returning to action, Hasenhuttl may just start with Danny Ings and Che Adams up top with Obafemi playing his part from the bench later in the game.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cedric, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Holjberg, Redmond; Ings, Adams
Jose Mourinho will welcome midfielders like Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko after the duo served out their one-match suspension against Norwich. However, he will still miss Heung-min Son who needs to serve another match suspension before returning to action.
Spurs may continue their three at the back approach even with Winks and Sissoko returning to the fold. Paulo Gazzaniga will continue to be the man between the sticks while Davinson Sanchez may replace Juan Foyth in the backline alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Serge Aurier and Ryan Sessegnon are likely to play as the wing-backs.
In the middle, Sissoko is likely to return to the mix with Eric Dier partnering him and Harry Winks may start from the bench along with Tanguy Ndombele. Lucas Moura can be ahead of Christian Eriksen in an advanced position where the Brazilian will be partnered by Dele Alli to play in behind the main forward, Harry Kane.
The trio of Lucas, Alli and Kane will look to work in tandem to create chances and disrupt the Saints’ defence. All of them are in a good run of form and will look to add to their tally.
Probable Lineups (3-4-2-1): Gazzaniga; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Aurier, Sissoko, Dier, Sessegnon; Lucas, Alli; Kane
- Southampton have won seven points in their last four home games (W2 D1 L1) more than they had in their previous 10 home games (6 – W1 D3 L6).
- This is the second time both sides will meet on New Year’s Day after 2003 which was won by the Saints 1-0 courtesy of a James Beattie goal.
- Tottenham have dominated the Saints by winning 11 of their last 15 Premier League meetings ever since their return to top-flight in 2012. Highest for Spurs against any club in that time period.
- Southampton won this exact fixture at home last season bringing an end to their dreadful run of form at home ( D2 L4)
Player to Watch
Ings has that unique romance with Southampton and the supporters, as he keeps on bailing them out from danger by netting goals for fun. It has been a topsy turvy career for the English forward and he has had his fair share of misery. But now with the Saints, he has found his identity back again. In red hot form this season with 12 goals and an assist, Spurs need to keep him quiet if they want to win this match.
His current form has made him the go-to man for Hasenhuttl when it comes to scoring goals, as the 27-year old has propelled Southampton out of the relegation zone. He has scored four times in the last five league games and will be looking for more against a shaky Spurs’ defence.
Stuart Armstrong will be another player to keep an eye on after his terrific performance against Chelsea.
Southampton 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
The Saints can promise a high spirited fight against Spurs just as they did against Chelsea on Boxing day. But with Winks and Sissoko back in the mix, it will be difficult to control terms in the middle against Mourinho’s men. While there are players who can pop up and score an odd goal, their over-reliance on Danny Ings is quite evident.
The sheer quality present at Jose Mourinho’s disposal can run riot over Southampton if they do justice to their potential. But with a shaky defence, it will be a close game. The Hard Tackles predicts a narrow win for the visitors to keep them in the running for a Champions League spot.