Tottenham will be hoping to kick off the post Jose Mourinho era with a win when they host Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
The past 48 hours or so have been a whirlwind in the world of football. The headlines were, unsurprisingly, dominated by the announcement of the breakaway European Super League. But, as a sidenote, there was also the matter of Tottenham Hotspur, who are among the so-called “founding members” of the said renegade tournament, deciding to wield the axe on Jose Mourinho.
Following the 2-2 draw against Everton on Friday night, Spurs were left five points behind fourth-placed West Ham United and manager Daniel Levy decided to take action, just a week before the team plays a final in the Carabao Cup.
Nevertheless, former midfielder Ryan Mason has been given the reins of the club on an interim basis and he will have the onus of taking Tottenham to a top-four finish in the Premier League, now that they will be needing Champions League football (if they are allowed entry that is) as the European Super League dream crashes and burns. Mason will now look to end a three-game winless streak when Spurs host Southampton this midweek.
Southampton, meanwhile, head into the game on the back of their 1-0 FA Cup semi-final heartbreak against Leicester City. After a strong start to the campaign, the Saints have seen their form deteriorate strongly since the turn of the year and find themselves in the 14th place heading into the game, nine points clear of the drop zone, having lost 3-0 to West Bromwich Albion in their last league game.
The reverse fixture saw Tottenham come back from a goal down to beat Southampton 5-2 as Son Heung-min scored four goals while Harry Kane netted the other for the Lilywhites. Ahead of their latest encounter this Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 20, 2021
Ryan Mason, heading into his first game as interim manager of Tottenham, will have to make do without Ben Davies while star striker Harry Kane is also a major doubt due to an ankle injury he picked up against Everton. Matt Doherty, however, has recovered from his injury issue and is available for selection.
Given that he has had very little time with the team leading up to the game, Mason is unlikely to change a lot in terms of personnel or formation. But we will likely see Tottenham play a more expansive, attacking style of football in what will be a departure from Jose Mourinho’s pragmatism-based approach. There could also be recalls to some players that had fallen out of favour under the previous regime.
There is no looking past club captain Hugo Lloris in goal for Tottenham while Toby Alderweireld and Joe Rodon slot in as the two centre-backs. Serge Aurier should continue at right-back despite Doherty’s return while Sergio Reguilon, who has been quite poor of late, remains the only choice at left-back in Davies’ absence.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will hold the fort in the middle of the park, while Tanguy Ndombele starts alongside him and offers the creative essence and forward thrust. Dele Alli, who has been constantly overlooked by Mourinho this term, could get the nod as the No. 10 on Wednesday, with the Englishman set to play alongside another Mourinho pariah in Gareth Bale.
Lucas Moura should slot in on the left-wing while Son Heung-min takes up the centre-forward berth in the potential absence of Harry Kane.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Rodon, Reguilon; Ndombele, Hojbjerg; Bale, Alli, Moura; Son
Both Oriol Romeu and Will Smallbone are long-term absentees for Southampton while Michael Obafemi is also unlikely to be available even though he has resumed training. Ralph Hasenhuttl will set his team up in the 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Fraser Forster, with there being some changes made to the side that lost to Leicester at the weekend.
No alterations are expected in the backline, however, as Kyle Walker-Peters continues at right-back against his former club while Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand make up the rest of the defensive unit for Southampton.
🗣 "I think we will see a different side from them and maybe a few new players on our side."
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 20, 2021
Ibrahima Diallo and James Ward-Prowse ought to be the central midfielders who will have their tasks cut out in keeping someone like Tanguy Ndombele quiet and not give him space to run into.
Takumi Minamino was ineligible to feature against the Foxes at the weekend as he was cup-tied but should start here, slotting in on the left flank while Stuart Armstrong gets the nod on the right. The Scotsman will look to veer infield more often than not, leaving spaces for Walker-Peters to make regular bursts forward.
Upfront, Danny Ings, who scored a brace in the reverse fixture and has also been linked with Tottenham is a certain starter. There should be change in partners for the Englishman though with Che Adams coming in for Nathan Redmond.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Minamino; Adams, Ings
- Tottenham have won nine of their last ten home matches against Southampton in all competitions.
- Southampton have lost seven of their last eight away games in the Premier League.
- Tottenham have conceded at least two goals in their last three Premier League matches.
- Southampton have also shipped in at least two goals in their last four league outings.
- Tottenham have scored four Premier League hat-tricks against Southampton, more than they have vs any other side. These were scored by Steffen Iversen (2000), Jermain Defoe (2004), Harry Kane (2017) and Son Heung-min (2020).
Player to Watch
Son Heung-Min says goodbye to Jose Mourinho on his Instagram.
“I have no words to describe how I’m feeling, it’s been a pleasure to work with you, I’m sorry things didn’t work out and truly grateful for the time we’ve had together. Good luck and all the best for the future.” pic.twitter.com/Fj7Dq3FOVY
— Jason (Hanshin) Lee (@Jasons_JaysHub) April 19, 2021
From his emotional reaction to the defeat against Manchester United to his sentimental post after the sacking of Jose Mourinho, one can tell the past couple of weeks have been rough on Son Heung-min. But on Wednesday, he will get a chance to change the mood as he comes up against a club that he already put to the sword big time this season.
Indeed, the South Korean international had scored four of the five goals managed by his team against Southampton in the reverse fixture, all of which were assisted by Harry Kane. And with the England captain likely to miss out of this contest, the responsibility will increase on Son’s shoulders to step up, deliver and get his Tottenham side back to winning ways.
Tottenham 2-0 Southampton
The new-manager bounce might be an age-old cliche in football but it still holds. And that is what we are likely to see on Wednesday when Tottenham, free from the toxic reign of Jose Mourinho take on a Southampton side whose form has been on the decline since the turn of the year. The Saints’ confidence will be dashed after the defeat to Leicester and we can expect Spurs to pile on the misery with Son Heung-min being at the centre of it.