Last weekend saw Spurs drop two points in their quest for Champion’s League qualification, following a disappointing 2-2 draw against Wigan Athletic.
Spurs got off to the perfect start in the game, taking the lead in 9th minute through Gareth Bale, after the Welshman charged down a rushed clearance from Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles following a ridiculous back-pass from Maynor Figueroa. It was the perfect start for Tottenham and I thought, like every other Spurs fan, that they were going to kick on, control the game and hopefully grab a second before halftime. I couldn’t have been more wrong though as two minutes later Wigan were level following a stunning header from defender Emerson Boyce. The remainder of the first half ebbed and flowed, with the most interesting action being the two substitutions, with Ronnie Stam replacing the injured Figueroa for the hosts, and Lewis Holtby replacing Mousa Dembélé for Spurs. The Belgian had been feeling his hamstring prior to being substituted and remains a doubt for this weekends clash with Southampton.
So the second half begins and, whilst I’m thinking to myself how important all three points are today, Callum McManaman smashes the ball past Hugo Lloris and Wigan are in front! Bugger! I become more frustrated with every passing minute as Spurs appeared to be creating very little and Wigan were looking very dangerous on the counter. A third for Wigan would very much mean game over for Tottenham, and not just for this game. Fortunately Wigan gifted them an equaliser in the 89th minute courtesy of an Emerson Boyce own goal, and I have to admit that I was jumping for joy as it could mean so much come the end of the season. Spurs nearly grabbed an unlikely and undeserved victory in stoppage time, but had to settle for the draw.
Spurs only managed one point from the six available against Wigan this season, which is not what you’d expect from a side challenging for a top four finish. Still, as I tweeted following the game, there are still five games remaining in Tottenham’s season: Win them all and we’re guaranteed a top four finish.
Up next for the men from White Hart Lane is a home match against Southampton. I know I keep repeating myself but this is another game that Tottenham have to win. They were given their get out of jail free card last week and I can’t see a much improved Saints side being as generous.
Spurs won the corresponding fixture 2-1 in October with goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey, with Jay Rodriguez netting for Southampton. That, however, was back when Southampton were managed by Nigel Adkins and were still adjusting to life in the Premier league. The Saints are a different animal now under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. Although I’m not a massive follower of the Saints, I have been reliably informed by friends of mine who are that things have greatly improved under the ex Espanyol coach, who looks very likely to secure the club a second successive season in the top flight.
If they are on their game Southampton could cause Tottenham Hotspur an awful lot of problems. In Rickie Lambert, their top scorer with fourteen goals, they have a player who, at 6’3 will be a massive presence in the penalty box. He has an eye for goal, surprisingly quick movement and is also quite handy when it comes to taking free kicks. They have a midfield three of Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Gastón Ramírez, who have been very impressive at times this season. Other midfielders in their ranks include Steven Davis and Jack Cork who will mainly operate in a more deep lying midfield role protecting the back four, but are also capable of supporting the attack when necessary. At full back they have the talented Nathaniel Clyne who could create problems with his blistering pace. Centre backs Maya Yoshida and Jos Hooiveld will undoubtedly be a threat at set pieces, but may struggle if subjected to relentless attacks from their hosts. Regular left back Danny Fox will be missing from the side following his red card against West Brom last time out and ex Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc is likely to be between the sticks.
For Tottenham Emmanuel Adebayor is available for selection, but Mousa Dembélé faces a late fitness test. I hope that Aaron Lennon will be restored to the starting line up following his brief appearance against Wigan, and would imagine that Lewis Holtby would replace Dembélé if he fails his aforementioned fitness test.
I sincerely hope that André Vilas-Boas names an attacking line up for this game and starts with two strikers. If we take to the field employing a lone striker I may actually cry. We cannot take to the field against Southampton with only one striker. I would like to see the little and large combination upfront with Bale and Lennon on the wings and Lewis Holtby or Tom Huddlestone pulling the strings in the middle of the park. I’m not going to be as bold as I was last week and say that Spurs are going to win, looked how that turned out, but I will be hoping…
Come on you Spurs!