Southampton vs Spurs
After our first loss in nine matches against Chelsea last weekend, Andre Villa-Boas will be looking to get back on the winning trail. St. Mary’s hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds and after a seven-year absence from the top flight League, its time once again for Southampton vs Spurs.
This fixture has seen us lose on all four of our previous Premier League trips to St. Mary’s and all by a score of 1-0.
The Saints have been shipping goals this season, so what can we expect from the hosts? Here are my 5 keys to Southampton vs Spurs this Sunday.
1. Southampton vs Spurs shots in the box
Spurs have done a good job on improving their percentage of shots taken inside the box. Earlier in the season we were taking 70% of our efforts from outside the area, now that figure stands at a much healthier 53%, as we seem to be scoring more goals the Andre Villas-Boas way.
This will be important Sunday, Southampton as we know have given up a ton of goals this season, 24 in fact in the Premier League. They are not surprisngly the number one team for shots conceded in the division with 19.1 allowed per game. They are also the team who allow the most shots inside the box.
The Saints have given up 92 strikes at their net from inside the 18-yard area, compared to just 44 from outside. If Spurs are to break their St. Mary’s goal scoring duck in the Premier League, then they need to get shots away inside the box.
2. Southampton concede from the right
Southampton have conceded the majority of chances from the flanks this season, with the right side being a particularly a problem as teams attack their left back.
The Saints have allowed 41 chances to be created from the right, 25 through the centre and 32 to the left.
This makes Aaron Lennon an important figure for Spurs, as he needs to keep this trend going against the Southampton left back, whether it is Danny Fox or Maya Yoshida.
If we look at Southampton’s last two home matches in the Premier League on Stats Zone, we can how Fulham created the majority of their chances from the right.
The Cottagers set up Kieran Richardson’s goal from this side, as well as forcing an own goal. Damien Duff cut the ball back from the right flank in to the path of John Arne Riise; Jos Hooiveld deflected his shot in to the net.
Aston Villa didn’t do much at St. Mary’s, but three of their four chances were created from open play on the right side. They had two corners from the opposite flank where they created opportunities, but in the normal flow of the game, the chances came from the right.
Spurs will need Aaron Lennon to be looking to get in behind and create from this right side.
3. Southampton pressing
Southampton games have been exciting to watch as they are either scoring goals or conceding them. This is because without the ball they are pressing the opposition quickly trying to win it straight back.
The Saints are second in the Premier League with 18 interceptions per game, only Fulham at 18.9 pick off more passes per match.
They are more aggressive at home, as we can see from their 17 interceptions against Fulham. Six of these were made in the opposition half and a further 5 are just inside their half within a few yards of the halfway line. Against Aston Villa they picked off 21 passes, with a third inside the Villains half of the field.
This will be an interesting area of the game, as we also like to push up a second attacker in either Gylfi Sigurdsson or Clint Dempsey to help press from the front.
4. Rickie Lambert loves being at home
Away from home the Saints have played with one striker up front and a five-man midfield, as Rickie Lambert has been on the bench. At home, Lambert usually starts and they have played in a 4-4-1-1.
Gaston Ramirez was playing behind Lambert, but his injury means he will be sidelined. Nigel Adkins will have a decision to make and it’ll be interesting to see if he uses a fifth midfielder or a secondary striker.
At home though, Lambert usually gets the nod and the Saints use him in two very distinct phases of play.
Firstly, he is a target for long balls played forward from the goalkeeper and the defenders. Then Lambert is looking to get in the box to get on the end of crosses and cutbacks.
In Southampton’s last home match with Fulham we can see Lambert doing just that, as he takes long passes downfield from the goalkeeper in the inside right channel. He then moves up in to the box to receive several balls cut back to him from both sides.
In their previous home match with Aston Villa we can see the same thing happening. This time he is not only the focus of balls from the goalkeeper, but also a heavy bombardment from the full backs. Once up in to the area, passes are squared and pulled back to him, as well as a cross that results in his goal.
Rickie Lambert is a dangerous player who has already netted four times for the Saints, three of which have come at home.
5. Where will Adam Lallana play?
Gaston Ramirez leads the Saints with 2.3 chances created per match, but Adam Lallana is a close second with 2.1 generated per game.
Southampton have usually deployed Lallana in a left-sided role, whereby he can move inside in to the centre to create opportunities for others in advanced positions.
Against West Ham last weekend without Ramirez, Lallana played in a central position as an advanced midfielder, creating chances whilst also scoring a goal.
This central role allowed him to drop into areas between the opposition defence and midfield right across the pitch. Once in the attacking third he was looking to get in down the inside right channel, which is where he received the pass for his goal.
Nigel Adkins will have to decide whether he gives Lallana the same playmaker role, or whether he returns him to the left and lets him work in the centre from there?
Kyle Walker has had troouble this season when having to defend an indirect opponent who cuts in to the middle like this. Eden Hazard and Shinji Kagawa have given him problems, so if Lallana starts on the left for Southampton vs Spurs this could be a key area.
Southampton vs Spurs outlook
This game could have goals written all over it. Southampton will be looking for a quick start given our sluggish opening halves after a Europa League match; we will be looking to exploit their porous defence.
Aaron Lennon will be a key figure in this match given Southampton’s trend to give up chances from the left side of their defence. Kyle Walker motoring up this flank will also be a factor and after fizzing a few shots at goal against Chelsea and Maribor, he may be looking to try his luck once again here.
I think this could be an exciting encounter, with Spurs squeaking it by a goal.
Southampton vs Spurs prediction: Southampton 2 Spurs 3