Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Can top-four hopefuls Spurs capitalise on a fragmented Saints side?

Mauricio Pochettino returns to St. Mary's to face his former employer as Southampton entertain Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Can top-four hopefuls Spurs capitalise on a fragmented Saints side?
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

An impressively in-form Tottenham Hotspur face the extremely hostile St. Mary's this weekend as the Champions League hopefuls travel to the south coast to face Southampton on Sunday. 

Mauricio Pochettino, leading Spurs' charge into the top four, took charge of the helms in north London in 2014 after becoming manager at the Saints just a year earlier. The visitors are unbeaten since their hammering to Premier League leaders Manchester City in mid-December, sitting three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea

As for Southampton, Mauricio Pellegrino's men have struggled this season in the top-flight with the club winless from their last ten league outings but they did overcome Championship outfit Fulham in the FA Cup Third Round. The Saints lie a worrying one point above the bottom three, meaning defeat to Tottenham Hotspur could see the team fall into the relegation zone.

Long-term absentees the issue for both camps

Southampton's primary source for goals, in a campaign that's seen them few and far between, is injured as Charlie Austin was ruled out of action for at least two months by Mauricio Pellegrino at the end of last month. The manager is also short on experience at the back with Maya Yoshida on the treatment table for the foreseeable future. 

Spurs' is a little more crowded as midfielder Harry Winks won't be within the matchday squad until the end of January at the very least and Danny Rose is in a similar position with a knee injury sustained. Pochettino is hoping the services of Toby Alderweireld may return soon but the trip to St. Mary's is likely to be too early for the centre-half. 

Spurs enjoy recent trips to Saints

Southampton is seemingly a relatively good hunting ground for Tottenham Hotspur, especially considering their recent form on the south coast. The Saints haven't beaten Spurs at St. Mary's since 2005 when Nigel Quashie netted the only goal of the game moments into the second-half. 

However, Sunday's hosts did walk away with all three points in their Premier League away outing two years ago at White Hart Lane. A Steven Davis brace cancelled out Son Heung-min's opener to lift Southampton into sixth and contending for European football.

These two sides met as recently as Boxing Day when a Harry Kane hat-trick helped Spurs cruise to a 5-2 triumph over Pellegrino's men at Wembley