Expect a much better start from a Tottenham side desperately in need of a strong away performance when they battle Southampton later this evening.
The first half at Norwich offered a glimpse of Tottenham’s ugly side. Don’t expect a recurrence of that gruesome 45 minutes.
About half of Tottenham’s starters for the New Year’s Day clash should be somewhat rested, with Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks returning from injury.
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier are the only exceptions, with the quartet playing relentlessly through the hectic festive period.
Southampton is reeling in 15th position in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone. Even worse is their home form, with Southampton currently rated as the second worst home team in the top flight. Amassing eight points from 10 home matches, Southampton have only won twice at St. Mary’s this season. Good news for a Spurs side who struggle away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Jose Mourinho must get his troops, by pressing relentlessly and playing a high tempo brand of football, to take the initiative from kickoff. A fast start is crucial for the away side in order to suffocate Saints and drain whatever confidence Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side has left.
Spurs cannot allow Southampton to possess the ball and gain confidence. It’s imperative that Mourinho’s men kick repeatedly Saints while they’re down. An early goal would be nice, but Spurs should be fine as long as Saints don’t score the opener.
Southampton have scored 10 goals in as many home games. Only Crystal Palace (9) and Watford (9) have scored fewer home goals. What’s more alarming for Hasenhüttl and his coaching staff is the regularity with which Southampton concede at St. Mary’s. They have allowed 25 goals at home, the most of any top flight club.
Spurs cannot afford to sit back and allow Saints to possess the ball freely. Pressure applied all over the pitch will create mistakes from their fragile opponents, allowing Spurs, at some stage, to capitalize. Tottenham must be crafty in possession and show quality on the ball. Zipping the ball around the park with pace and verve will spread a vulnerable Southampton side like Marmite on bread, creating space for Spurs to exploit with incisive, penetrative passes.
Anything other than a win will be disastrous for Spurs, who can ill-afford any more slip ups as they attempt to hunt down the leading pack.