Tottenham - Southampton: Pre-match analysis as Saints continue battle for European qualification

The Saints can maintain their push for a Europa League place, while Spurs will be aiming to remain above rivals, Arsenal.

Tottenham - Southampton: Pre-match analysis as Saints continue battle for European qualification
(Picture: Getty Images)

Southampton travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in their final away game of the season, knowing a win would keep them firmly in contention for Europa League qualification.

Spurs have had a week to forget as they surrendered the Barclays Premier League title to Leicester City following a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Will Recent Form Help Saints?

Southampton have won their last two games 4-2 (Aston Villa and Man City), and have not suffered defeat since April 3rd, which was to newly crowned champions, Leicester (1-0).

Spurs on the other hand, haven’t lost in the league since March 2nd when they lost 1-0 away at West Ham, however two draws in the last two matches has seen them surrender the title to Leicester.

The Teams And Formations

Ronald Koeman will have the satisfaction of picking from a full strength squad with Romanian defender Florin Gardos and England striker, Charlie Austin both returning.

The Dutchman will be expected to start the same 4-2-3-1 that defeated Manchester City 4-2 at St Mary’s last weekend as Koeman described the first half as ‘the best he’d seen’ since he became manager.

Graziano Pelle will therefore be expected to start on the bench with in-form forward Shane Long leading the line.

Shane Long's recent form suggests he could play a key role against Spurs. (Picture: Getty Images)
Shane Long's recent form suggests he could play a key role against Spurs. (Picture: Getty Images)

Spurs will be without Dele Alli (three games) and Moussa Dembele (six games) who are both suspended for the remainder of the current campaign.

Mauricio Pochettino will still be desperate to remain above North London rivals Arsenal and so will be expected to stick to a 4-2-3-1 without making too many changes.

Harry Kane is currently top scorer in the Premier League with 25 goals and will be desperate to win the golden boot.

The Key Battle

One interesting battle on the pitch will be Shane Long up against ex- Saints defender Toby Alderweireld.

The Belgian centre-half showed fantastic defensive talent on the south-coast last season and this season has been crucial for Spurs’ unexpected title bid.

Long gave the Man City defence a torrid time last Sunday with his pace tormenting the likes of Aleksander Kolarov and Nicolas Otamendi.

The Effect On The Table

A win for Southampton would take them onto 60 points and would equal their points tally for last season with a home game against Crystal Palace on the final day.

Spurs would all but guarantee a second place finish with three points and Pochettino’s side travel to Newcastle on the final day.