Spurs v Saints - media view with Simon Peach of the Press Association
18 March 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
He may spend most of his professional time reporting on Manchester United for the Press Association, but Simon Peach also keeps a keen eye on all things Southampton - he's a former Spurs correspondent for PA and a Saints fan, so who better to run the rule over the men from St Mary's ahead of Sunday's clash at the Lane?
Chief Football Writer, PA
Southampton have come out of a run of six defeats in seven in the Premier League to win back to back against Sunderland and Watford. How would you describe their form at the moment?
Simon: "In a word? Improving. In recent years Saints have made light of the issues that come with losing key assets, but it appeared to take its toll at the start of this season. Questions over manager Claude Puel naturally grew having failed to match seamless transition of predecessors Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, but things are beginning to look up. Free-scoring wins at Sunderland and Watford sandwiched a fine display at Wembley, so things are looking positive for the remainder of the campaign."
Below: Claude Puel
How is the team setting up under Claude Puel?
Simon: "Initial struggles for identity under Puel have been smoothed by the recent return to 4-2-3-1 - a system that suited Saints so well in previous years. January acquisition Manolo Gabbiadini's fine form has come thanks to fine support, with James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond's form this week awarded with maiden England call-ups. The attack has netted 11 in their last three matches, but the defence has shipped six in their last two as star turn Virgil van Dijk's absence continues to hurt."
Below: Manolo Gabbiadini on target in the League Cup Final
Tell us about Manolo Gabbiadini - he's made quite an impact since his arrival from Napoli. What type of striker is he?
Simon: "Underrated by Napoli, he has flourished at Southampton. Gabbiadini has scored in all four of his appearances for the club to date, being awarded PFA Fans' Premier League Player of the Month for February having plundered six goals. A sharp, predatory attacker, the 25-year-old's quick feet and confidence have made him a tough player for defenders to keep under wraps."
We remain unbeaten with 12 wins and two draws in 14 at home in the PL - how do you think Southampton will approach Sunday?
Simon: "There is bound to be a confidence within the group given the positivity of recent games. Saints have played just four matches since the start of February so should not only be fresh but raring to go. Harry Kane's injury will be a relief to Puel's backline and there will be a belief within the side given many remain from the side that won in north London last May - the last time Spurs lost at White Hart Lane."
Below: Dele Alli on target at St Mary's in December
You’ve seen plenty of Spurs - what do you make of our form at the moment?
Simon: "They are an enjoyable side to watch and a match for anyone when they are firing on all cylinders. The mixture of English talent and foreign players attuned to the Premier League means there are few better starting line-ups in the country, with Pochettino having shown at Saints and Spurs just how good he is at spotting talent and coaxing the best out of it. Injuries to key players have disrupted a season in which Europe has been a huge disappointment, but Tottenham seem to remain upwardly mobile."
Finally, how do you think it will go on Sunday?
Simon: "Given Tottenham's home form, it is hard to see Saints following up last season's White Hart Lane win. Kane's absence gives Southampton a chance, but if Spurs start quickly they could catch them cold."