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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Pochettino can enjoy a happy return to Southampton

Impressive Spurs have the tools to claim vital victory

Harry Kane celebrates with teammate Heung-Min Son
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Premier League 
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Mauricio Pochettino celebrated five years in English football earlier this week and the Tottenham boss can mark the anniversary with a victory at where it all begun for him when Spurs head to St Mary's.

Tottenham have collected 13 points from a possible 15 since their dismal 4-1 loss at Manchester City and should maintain their Champions League qualification push by beating Southampton.

In the last few years Southampton have been a shining example to other clubs of their size, reeling off four successive top-eight finishes despite selling several star players.

During that period they developed talented youngsters Calum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw and were very clever in the transfer market.

Loan deals for Graziano Pelle and Toby Alderweireld were a huge success and permanent signings Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Dusan Tadic have more than justified the fees paid for their services.

Southampton's big problem is that their magic touch in the market seems to have deserted them.

In the last three completed transfer windows they have spent hefty sums on Pierre Hojbjerg, Sofiane Boufal, Manolo Gabbiadini, Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt but none of them are doing enough to attract the attention of bigger clubs.

Of the five only Hoedt and Hojbjerg started last week's 2-2 draw at Watford, but Saints' star man was two-goal midfielder Ward-Prowse, one of the few talented academy players they have kept.

Much of the blame has been laid at the door of manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who is in danger of leading Southampton back to the Sky Bet Championship.

But there were problems when Pellegrino arrived - Saints had won just one of their last eight games last season - and most of the players at his disposal are those he inherited.

Southampton were cursing their luck after Abdoulaye Doucoure's handball equaliser at Watford but they were dreadful in the second period and played with the lack of confidence despite the Hornets having their own issues.

The draw sucked Southampton closer to relegation trouble and they are not playing well enough to trouble a Tottenham side who have clicked into gear over the last few weeks.

Spurs were hugely impressive in their 4-0 victory at home to Everton last time out and could have won by a wider margin.

Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son are playing at close to their peak, while Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are also contributing regularly.

Finishing in the top four won't be easy and it is crucial that Spurs do not lose further ground because their next three league games are at home to Manchester United, away to Liverpool and home to Arsenal.

Pochettino has taken his players on a midweek training exercise in Barcelona to prepare as well as possible and if Spurs are anywhere near their best they should pick up a comfortable three points.

2pts 4-6 general

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Premier League standings

Team news
Maya Yoshida could come back into contention but Charlie Austin is unlikely to feature.

Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Harry Winks miss out. Hugo Lloris (illness) is a doubt.

Key stat
Tottenham have won nine of their last 11 matches against Southampton.

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Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son are playing at close to their peak, while Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are also contributing regularly
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