Pellegrino v Pochettino

As if things weren’t hard enough already for Southampton, who find themselves without a Premier League win in ten, their upcoming clash is against the same Spurs side that shipped five past them on boxing day less than a month ago. 

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I’m not sure how many more times I’m going to need to say this, but Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton simply have to react this weekend. Not just with an encouraging performance or some attractive spells of play, but with three points and three points only. I’m under no illusion that that’s an incredibly tough ask while were in such a devastating rutt, but if we got ourselves into this mess, then we’ve got to take responsibility for our mistakes, step up to the challenge and drag ourselves out.

So to find out more about our upcoming opponents (as if our 5-2 thrashing didn’t teach us enough) we spoke with Nikhil Saglani – an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan and writer.

How would you summarise Tottenham’s season so far? 

A mixed bag, but largely impressive. We emphatically topped the Group of Death in the Champions League, which surprised everyone! But overall our League form has been good too, when you consider that we’ve had to adapt to a new ‘home’ ground for the year. We’ve dropped some silly points at Wembley but it’s mostly been good. Not many people expected us to get top four at Wembley and that’d probably represent a successful league season, if we finish in those spots come May.

For those who are a little unfamiliar with Spurs, what formation and style of play have you adopted this season?

It might be quicker to tell you what we formation we haven’t used! At some point this season we’ve used all of: 3-4-2–1, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1. However, one of the first two are our best formation; nobody seems to know which, though. Whichever one we use means dropping one of our key players, so Pochettino definitely has a headache if everyone is fit.

How have teams got the most joy out of your defence?

Corners. We seem to have conceded from loads of them this season, which is not ideal against teams who sit back and try to use such set-pieces to break you down. Hopefully the imminent return of Toby Alderweireld helps to sure that up, although we did concede from a couple even when he was in the side.

You’re stranded on a desert island and can only be joined by one Spurs player; who’s it going to be?

Harry Kane, of course, because what can’t he do? He’s so good he could probably get us home safely without a problem. He’s a freak.

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Which Southampton player would you take to join Spurs? And which Spurs player do you think would benefit the Saints most?

It’s a tough one as our squad is pretty well balanced but I’d probably say Sofiane Boufal. Heung-min Son is the only winger in our squad so Boufal would add some pace, trickery and width to the side. Many Spurs fans were admirers of him before he joined you.

You seem completely incapable of scoring goals, except the two we gifted you on Boxing Day, so Kane is the obvious answer here. His overall game is world class too, which would obviously help. With so many games to go, he looks on course to break the record for goals in a Premier League season – if he stays free of injury.

A brace on Sunday will be the 99th and 100th Premier League goals of his career, aged 24, so expect him to be fired up.

As seasons go by, Southampton fans have slowly but surely been able to admit their admiration of Mauricio Pochettino; just how special is he? 

As with every manager, he has some flaws that need working but overall, he’s very special. He’s turned Spurs from a club that were there to make up numbers into a club that can challenge the very best, on an almost shoestring budget with the new stadium upcoming. Of course the trophies have not come yet, but it seems a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ when you look at the trajectory of his side. And, arguably more importantly, he’s helped fans fall back in love with a club that many were extremely disenchanted with for years. He’s magic, you know.

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And finally, what do you think the score will be this Sunday?

Sorry Saints fans but we’ve got four players who can score bags full of goals and you just seem to be lacking that cutting edge, are low on confidence and aren’t too assured at the back either. I’m going to say a 3-1 away win, but if I’ve jinxed it then you’re absolutely welcome, I’m happy to leave my PayPal details below!


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