Southampton will be anticipating all three points when managerless Tottenham Hotspur travel to St Mary’s on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Saints have picked up just two points from a difficult recent run of fixtures, but after a good start to the season are still in healthy ninth place in the Premier League table, with 24 points from six wins, six draws and four defeats.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side play an energetic style of football, pressing their opponents high up the pitch and giving them little time to settle. They consistently make life difficult for their opponents and have already secured points from matches away to Liverpool and Manchester United and at home to Man City.
Southampton have the joint-best defensive record in the division, with 15 goals conceded in 16 matches. They are generally able to keep attacks at arm’s length, but when opponents do create chances they are usually of good quality. Only five teams have conceded a higher percentage of penalty area shots than Saints so far this season.
The high press also requires the central midfielders to break up play by any means necessary if teams threaten to get through. Victor Wanyama leads the Premier League in average fouls per match (2.4), with Morgan Schneiderlin (1.6) also in the top 20. They are both on four bookings for the season, one away from a one-match ban.
At the other end, Saints attack swiftly and incisively, looking to take quick advantage from the opportunities created when they gain possession high up the pitch. Pablo Osvaldo or Rickie Lambert act as a central focal point from which the fleet-footed attacking midfielders, such as recent England callups Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, work their magic.
Pochettino will definitely be without Wanyama, Guly Do Prado and Artur Boruc for Sunday’s match, with the trio likely to be out of action until mid-January. Kelvin Davis is still sidelined with a back injury, while Danny Fox and Nathanial Clyne are both doubts due to hamstring problems.
André Villas-Boas was the man Pochettino was expecting to pit his wits against this weekend, but he will instead face Tim Sherwood. He was placed in temporary charge after Spurs and Villas-Boas parted company on Monday morning in the wake of a humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool.
Spurs were outthought and overrun by an energetic, purposeful Liverpool side who worked hard to win possession and attacked swiftly and effectively having done so. Spurs were already 2-0 down prior to Paulinho’s red card for a kick into the chest of Luis Suarez and Liverpool added three more goals in the final quarter hour to round off a famous victory.
The nature of the defeat, coupled with other losses earlier in the campaign, led chairman Daniel Levy to dispense of the services of Villas-Boas just a year and a half into his contract. The decision seemed harsh, as Spurs are decently positioned in the table, just five points off the top four with 27 points from eight wins, three draws and five defeats. The bookies have them at triple figures in the Premier League betting to mount a title challenge.
With no concrete news about a permanent successor, Sherwood has taken on the mantle, but his tenure got off to a poor start with a 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat to West Ham on Wednesday. He has inherited a talented squad in need of direction, although with no previous managerial experience it is doubtful he is the correct man to provide it, despite being current second-favourite in the highly volatile betting odds to be the next permanent Spurs manager.
Sherwood will be without injured defenders Jan Vertonghen (ankle) and Younes Kaboul (back) for Sunday’s match, while winger Andros Townsend will also miss out after pulling his hamstring in the defeat to West Ham. Paulinho is suspended following his red card against Liverpool, but Michael Dawson returns after serving a one-match ban in midweek.
Southampton v Spurs Betting Tips Conclusion
Southampton lost twice to Spurs last season in their first year back in the top flight after a seven-season absence, losing 2-1 at St Mary’s and 1-0 at White Hart Lane. Saints had won each of their previous five home matches between the sides.
The difficulty Spurs had against Liverpool suggests Southampton have a good chance of winning on Sunday. Spurs lack the necessary ingenuity in midfield to circumvent the Southampton press and do not possess a reliable forward capable of facilitating a more direct approach, as substitute Demba Ba did for Chelsea in Saints’ recent away defeat.
Southampton have been going through a relatively rough spell of results in recent times and have some tough fixtures still to come over the Christmas period, but can be relatively confident of taking all three points against a beleaguered Spurs on Sunday.
- Back Southampton to win @ 8/5 with Ladbrokes, Stan James or William Hill.
- Mindful of supporter complaints about the perceived defensiveness of Villas Boas’ side, Sherwood utilised an open 4-4-2 formation against West Ham on Wednesday that, if employed, should facilitate an entertaining encounter on Sunday. Back both teams to score @ 4/5 with Bet365 or SkyBet.