3rd May 2013
Fifth-placed Tottenham can climb to the Premier League top 4 at least for a couple of hours with three points from the Southampton game, with no slip-ups allowed if the Spurs are to clinch Champions League qualification. Southampton arrive at White Hart Lane on the back of the disappointing defeat to West Brom, but the Saints are certainly not without chances in North London.
It may look that Tottenham are in a good position to clinch the top 4 berth, seeing as how they are two points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal, but with a game in hand. However, with away games against Chelsea and Stoke next after the home fixture against Southampton, Spurs will only be masters of their own destiny if they win all four remaining games, which is not going to be an easy task. The point they won at DW Stadium could make all the difference in the final count, but this is a must-win game for Spurs if they are to have any hope of clinching the final Champions League berth. The problem is Andre Villas-Boas’ side have suffered far too many slip-ups at home against bottom-table sides, which is why they have to be wary of very good Southampton side. Even with the Chelsea game due on Wednesday, the Portuguese manager has got to field his strongest side against the Saints and then worry about the all-important clash against his former club. This means Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe should all start, but Moussa Dembele is a major doubt with a muscle injury.
Southampton have got to be considered the biggest surprise package of the season, with the Saints doing so well even if they were predicted an almost certain relegation. While the team were showing glimpses of quality under Nigel Adkins, they really upped their game since Mauricio Pochettino took over and seem to have done enough to ensure Premiership survival. Southampton are still one point shy of the 40-point mark, meaning they are not carefree just yet, but they certainly have enough quality in their ranks to pick up at least one point from the remaining three fixtures. Don’t be surprised if they attempt to do that at White Hart Lane, as the likes of Lambert, Lallana and Rodriguez are likely to be afforded a lot of space by attack-minded Tottenham. Southampton have been producing decent performances on the road since the turn of the year, picking up 10 points from last 8 away fixtures, and they will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run on the road to four matches when they visit White Hart Lane. The visitors will be without Daniel Fox and Gaston Ramirez, while Luke Shaw faces a fitness test as he battles an ankle injury.
Tottenham are aware their chances of finishing in top 4 will suffer a huge blow if they fail to win this game, but with Aaron Lennon back to the side, Spurs should have enough firepower to hurt their next opponents. Southampton plan to wait for their chance on the break and I wouldn’t be surprised if they score at least once at the Lane.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 17/20