|Southampton 2 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 9th March 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V Tottenham Hotspur The Preview
Friday, 8th Mar 2019 11:50
Saints take on Spurs and really need to take something out of it to ensure that they don't spend the next three weeks twiddling their thumbs in the bottom three.
Saints haven't beaten Spurs at home for 14 years now and it is about time we did, we have an awful record against them at St Mary's since our return to the Premier League in 2012 and now is a good as time as any to change that.
Spurs have gone off the boil in the Premier League of late and being 10 points shy of Manchester City in top spot with only 9 games left means that all hopes of winning the league have gone with two defeats and a draw in their last three league outings.
It should be noted however that although their one defeat was against Burnley showing that we can beat them, the two draws were against Chelsea and Arsenal so they are still no mugs.
Indeed it would have been better for us if they had won one of those two games as both of those clubs are now right behind them in the race for a top four finish.
But Spurs do have their eyes on bigger things, they are now in the quarter finals of the Champions League although that won't be played for another month so will not perhaps be on their mind for their trip to St Mary's
They do have other issues though Mauricio Pochettino will watch this game from the stands due to serving a two match touchline ban and they have injury issues Trippier and Winks are both doubtful as is Eric Dier.
One man who could return though is Dele Alli who has been out since January, Pochettino has hinted he could return for this game, but the question is like that of Danny Ings, with Spurs now facing a three week break would it be better to rest Alli and give him that extra recovery time and have him ready for their next game a trip to Anfield in the League and also that Champions League quarter final.
For Saints it is the same old story though, overall we have a team that is playing well and with confidence and spirit, but we have two weaknesses, a lack of goal scoring forwards and in the centre of defence.
In three of the last four games this has cost us dearly, against Burnley and Cardiff individual errors cost us dearly, against Manchester United there was no clear error, but if we had a class defender in our side then I feel that at least the winning goal would have been defended, it is bad enough when we leave players unmarked, but when we are close to them we have to get a blocking tackle in when they are about to shoot, certain players do do that Jan Bednarek especially, I have rewatched that goal several times and wondered why we didn't, it was a great strike but should have at least been blocked or at least an attempted block.
So for this game we need solid defending for the entire 90 minutes plus injury time, Burnley showed that if you get behind the ball and stick to your task then Spurs showboating can be defended against, the difference is they had the defenders to do it, put bluntly we are one short, we need an experienced leader at the back.
I don't expect Ralph to change his line up very much from the last couple of games, it is settled and has played well in those games, it is the bench I will look to as that is where this game could be won or lost.
I would love to say this game is a free hit and on previous results you can say it is, but we need a draw to ensure that we stay out of the bottom three, all eyes are nervously on Cardiff who entertain West Ham, if the hammers can get a win that would be brilliant, a draw would mean that whatever the result against Spurs we can have the psychological advantage gong into a three week break.
Ideally of course we will win this fixture and not have to rely on others and as per the United game if we lose this it will not define our season, defeats to Cardiff will, however we can't change that we can only change it going forward.
Yes we may be lacking a striker and a quality central defender but Ralph Hasenhuttl has had those problems for most of the time he has been here and yet he has a decent points per game ratio, fact is if he maintains that record between now and the end of the season we will be comfortable.
We are not a team in meltdown, we are a team that since Ralph's arrival have even despite those last minute errors had a points per game record that over a season would see us in or around 10th place, but for the last three last minute goals we would now be 8 points clear of relegation.
That tells us that we need to keep calm and not panic, we all now what the issues are, we can't change them and neither can Ralph, but what he and we as supporters can do is do the best we can in the situation.
Put bluntly this game will be about cutting out errors and everyone doing their job for 90 minutes and then some.
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