Tottenham and Southampton will go head to head at White Hart Lane this Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino - allegedly a target of Catalan monolith Barcelona - will be praying that Harry Kane’s ankle injury is not as serious as initially believed. Reports initially suggested that he would be out for the rest of the season, but murmurs have emerged that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as initially envisaged. Spurs are currently flying, sitting in second place in the league and primed for a bitter London derby against Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi-Final. Southampton recovered from the thunderous disappointment of that League Cup Final defeat to the Red Devils to record a pulsating 4-3 away victory over a shell-shocked Watford side. Pochettino’s former club will want to use any intrinsic knowledge they have of their former manager as they seek a second consecutive away victory.
Tottenham Hotspurs v Southampton | Saturday 19 March | White Hart Lane | 16:15
To Win (80 Mins)
Tottenham 7/10 | Draw 11/4 | Southampton 38/10
The injury to Kane is clearly crucial, especially when you look at the form that the most unimaginatively named striker in England is in. Son made a definite impact against lowly Millwall, despite reportedly being on the receiving end of racial abuse from the travelling fans. They’ve never really been known for their diplomacy, those Millwall die-hards. I think that Pochettino may be tempted to move away from his new 3-4-3 format, without a proverbial number nine he can trust - Janssen’s goal on Saturday aside.
But I expect him to persist with it this weekend, with Son leading the line. He may not quite have the physical prowess of Kane, but his mobility and cleverness of run should pose a fledging Southampton central-defensive partnership some problems. A good battle will see Walker and Bertrand duelling for supremacy down that Southampton left-hand flank. Additionally, Dembelle and Wayanyama will have to watch out for the intricate passing networks of Tadic, Redmond and Gabbiadini.
The goal-scoring exploits of one Gabbiadini are fast becoming the stuff of myth, and one wonders whether Kane’s absence opens the door for the Italian to be the prominent striker on show. Romeu and Davies complement each other well in the heart of midfield, with Romeu and out and out stopper. He could have the type of rigid discipline that could alienate Dele Alli from the match. They will need to be slightly more compact this week against a Spurs side that is capable of exploiting the smallest error of judgement.
Ward-Prowse’s delivery from set pieces could be vital, with Yoshida and Stephens both considerable physical presences in the opposition box, not to mention the instinctual presence of Gabbiadini. Redmond will aim to keep Davies quiet while Cedric and Bertrand will need to be disciplined against the characteristically buccaneering forward runs of Spurs’ full-backs. Southampton’s forward line has a good balance of counterattacking threat and intricacy, with the likes of Tadic and Gabbiadini capable of unlocking Spurs’ staunch defensive line.
Verdict: Tottenham 7/10
I know this may not appear the sexiest prediction ever. This is going to be a true test of Spurs’ resilience and strength in depth. Harry Kane is a crucial cog in determining how they play, with the ability to drop deep and link play whilst remaining their chief goal threat. I still think that Spurs will edge it, thanks to their well-drilled system of play that should be able to create enough chances against a Southampton side missing the key presence of Van Djik and departed Fonte.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets