Tottenham may only have the Premier League to focus on in the final months of the season, but that is motivation enough for coach Antonio Conte.
Spurs exited the FA Cup and the Champions League in quick succession at the start of March.
It means another season will pass without Tottenham winning silverware, but they still have plenty to play for, fourth in the Premier League and in the final Champions League qualification place heading into Saturday’s game at lowly Southampton.
Just being in the Premier League is a challenge that means a great deal to Conte, he explained ahead of the Saints match.
“I think that for sure to play the Premier League, to be a coach in the Premier League means you have to be ready to face a great competition,” he said.
“To face important players, important clubs, important coaches… and for this reason, the motivation is really, really high.
“For this reason, you want to be strong, to have a strong team and to try to be competitive.”
Conte appears focused again on the task at hand, describing his discussion of potentially being sacked after losing to Milan as “a joke”.
“I don’t think the club is thinking this,” he said.
Opponents Saints have sacked two coaches this season, with Ruben Selles now tasked with keeping them in the top flight.
With an international break following this weekend’s action, Selles sees the meeting with Spurs as key.
“I don’t want to sit on defeat for one hour, that is what I can tell you,” he said. “So, imagine for two weeks.
“I will prepare every game to win the game, to do the best performance we can and to get the best results.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – James Ward-Prowse
Southampton dominated the possession against Brentford in midweek but attempted only seven shots and one on target.
They need more creativity on the ball so will inevitably turn to captain James Ward-Prowse, who has created more chances both from set plays and in open play than any team-mate this season. He also scored against Tottenham in the reverse fixture.
Tottenham – Richarlison
After announcing his frustration at his limited playing time following Tottenham’s Champions League exit, Richarlison looked to have come up with an ideal response when he found the net early against Nottingham Forest.
But his celebrations were for nought due to the tightest of offside calls. He is still without a Premier League goal in 18 games for Tottenham, although he netted five against Southampton for Everton.
MATCH PREDICTION – TOTTENHAM WIN
Expect goals in this one, as Southampton have scored at least once in each of their past 14 Premier League games against Spurs while keeping just one clean sheet in their last 21 against them.
Southampton have won only two of their 10 home league games against Tottenham since returning to the top flight in 2012, with Spurs now aiming to complete a home-and-away double over Saturday’s opponents for a seventh time in the Premier League era.
Conte’s side will have to snap a four-game losing run away from home in all competitions, but Southampton are winless in 15 games against teams starting the day in the top four of the table.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Tottenham – 54.0 per cent
Southampton – 20.3 per cent
Draw – 25.7 per cent
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