Inside Track: Tottenham

By SFC Media Thu 18 Jan Saints v Tottenham
Photo by Getty Images

Get the inside track on this weekend's opponents Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, from ESPN's Spurs correspondent Dan Kilpatrick.

5th in the league at the moment and unbeaten in six, has this season been a successful one for Spurs so far?

Yes. Spurs are not playing at home this year, so it was unrealistic to expect an improvement on last season's second-place finish, even if they had one eye on the title in August.

They've already exceeded expectations in the Champions League by finishing the group stage with more points than any other club, and in the league they have more or less maintained last season's level (in spite of Wembley) so far. As usual, Mauricio Pochettino's team has found an extra gear since the start of the December, so they will not be worried to be in fifth at the moment.

However, if the season finished today, they would be disappointed to miss out on the Champions League and a trophy again. They're the aims.

Spurs beat Southampton 5-2 on Boxing Day at Wembley, will Saints find it equally tough at St Mary’s and how have Spurs been setting up in terms of style away from home?

The clubs are on opposing trajectories and it will be really difficult again for Saints, particularly if Spurs score an early goal. Just as on Boxing Day, Harry Kane has a milestone in his sights – he needs two goals to join the Premier League's "100 club" – and Son Heung-Min is in the form of his life. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen also look menacing and if Saints find a way to stop one or two of them, the chances are that the others will be decisive.

Spurs tend to set-up in the same way in every game – at the moment in a 4-2-3-1 with a holding midfielder and advanced full-backs. They tend to find it easier against clubs outside the top six away from home, when the hosts feel obliged to attack in front of their own fans, leaving space for Spurs to pick them off.

How do you see the game going?

Southampton seem a little low on confidence and if Spurs score an early goal or two, it could easily finish with an even bigger deficit than Boxing Day, particularly as Spurs have improved defensively and stopped conceding from corners since then. Kane is so prolific, it is genuinely hard to imagine him not getting the brace he needs to reach 100 Premier League goals.

Worse teams than Southampton have taken points off Spurs this season, however, and Saints seem to have raised their game against the top six. If they stay organised defensively, frustrate Spurs and press their defenders, they are good enough to draw or win.


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