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Saints v Spurs - Mauricio's preview

Sat 20 January 2018, 11:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino makes a poignant latest return to where it started for him in England five years ago when we step out against Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday.

By coincidence, Mauricio and his coaching staff took charge of their first game for Southampton against Everton on January 21, 2013. It ended in a 0-0 draw at St Mary’s.

Now he’s back again, having switched Saints for Spurs in the summer of 2014. Since then, Mauricio, Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jimenez have taken us to third and second in the Premier League and, this season, top of a Champions League group that included Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

“It was five years ago that we made our debut at Southampton against Everton,” said Mauricio. “It was our first game in England and we have a lot of good memories from that day and from Southampton.

“It’s a club we enjoy a lot and we spent an amazing time there, a year-and-a-half that, for me, was amazing. We love a lot of people there and it’s always nice to meet them again.”

We travel to Hampshire in good form - six wins in the last eight in the Premier League, 23 goals - while Southampton are without a win in 10.

That doesn’t tell the whole story though as that run includes draws against Arsenal and Manchester United, narrow defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea and late losses against Palace and Watford.

“Sometimes you have these difficult periods but they have a very good squad, a great manager and coaching staff,” said Mauricio, who is good friends and a former team-mate of Saints’ boss Mauricio Pellegrino. “I’m sure they will be a success.

“It will be a tough game and of course we need to be ready to compete and fight because they need to win as well. We need to win to be close to the top four.”

There will certainly be no sympathy for his former club and good friend - every point is vital.

“That’s why our mentality is to go to Southampton and try to win the game, try to perform in a good way and in the end, deserve the victory,” added Mauricio.

“It’s tough to be in the top four, but every season is tough. There are a lot of good teams all fighting for the same objective and to be consistent in our results will be key to being in the top four at the end.”