Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Southampton preview (h)

After our trip to Portugal, we return to Premier League action this weekend with Spurs vs Southampton at the Lane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are going well in the Premier League and just like us could equally use the points here. So what can we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Southampton this time?

Getting behind their full backs

Southampton’s pressing game is often the first thing talked about when discussing them and this includes getting their full backs high up the pitch.

They are there to provide width and crosses in the attacking phase, but also to hem opponents in when they don’t have the ball. This makes them vulnerable to quick counters, as they leave space in-behind.

Southampton’s recent match with Liverpool was a perfect example of this. A turnover on the edge of the Reds’ penalty area was quickly sent forward, taking seven Saints players out of the game. The full backs, Shaw and Chambers, were pushed on and Daniel Sturridge was able to get in-behind, almost picking out Luis Suarez for a tap in.


Saints FBs get caught up-field and their CBs 1v1.

In our recent trip to St. Mary’s the score finished up Southampton 2 Spurs 3 and we did something similar.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado pulled out in to wide areas as often as possible in order to get behind the full backs, especially in transition.


Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor passes received: Southampton 2 Spurs 3.

Our opening goal in that game saw Soldado pull out to the wing after a Southampton corner had broken loose. He then crossed for Adebayor to volley home. It was an excellent example of how to score against the Saints.


Soldado looks to get in where the right back has vacated.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Southampton will need to see us navigate their pressure. Having our strikers run in behind their advancing full backs is one way to do it.

Men in the middle

Teams that have had success against Southampton have done it by playing a very narrow midfield.

West Ham got four players in here to combat the Saints as Carlton Cole kept on dropping in.


West Ham average positions against Southampton.

Liverpool played with their narrow diamond formation to also get four players in to this zone.

In our victory at St. Mary’s, we also went with a narrow midfield, as Sigurdsson and Lamela tucked in alongside Dembele and Eriksen.

southampton-2-spurs-3-1st-saints goal

Our midfield played extremely narrow.

All three teams scored three goals and emerged with the three points. The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Southampton should see us try something similar.

Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert

The trio of Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Ricky Lambert are one of the most dangerous in the Premier League due to the way they work together.

Jay Rodriguez is Southampton’s form player in front of goal and has a couple of different roles on the team.

Firstly, he can play wide as part of the three advanced midfielders. When given this position, he starts out on the left when play is in the midfield zone. As the ball moves up the pitch towards the final third, he then comes inside like a wide forward, as he looks to get shots away in the box.


Jay Rodriguez passes received, Palace 0 Southampton 1.

Secondly, Mauricio Pochettino can play him in either the number ten role or as a central striker. Here he provides more of a direct running and shooting threat. He is a danger to either run off his centre forward if deployed behind him. If he is playing as the central striker,  he looks to get passes in-behind the defence to run on to, such as he did against Aston Villa.


Jay Rodriguez passes received: Southampton 2 Aston Villa 3.

Adam Lallana is excellent with the ball at his feet and can dribble past opponents at will, whilst also being able to pick out a pass. He can be deployed in one of the wider advanced midfield roles, but is arguably at his best when allowed to roam from a central area.

In Southampton’s last away match at Crystal Palace he did just this, as he drifts out to both flanks to link with the wide players and the overlapping full backs. Luke Shaw was his top passing target, whilst when in advanced areas, he was also supplying crosses and through balls for Lambert and Rodriguez.


Adam Lallana passes received, Palace 0 Southampton 1.

Lallana is also a goal scoring threat, as he and Rodriguez will often burst past Ricky Lambert looking for a through ball. This is one of Lambert’s roles. He can be a hold up player for anything hit forward from the back, but he is also a very good passer of the ball and can play others in. He did this excellently in Southampton’s recent away win at Fulham.


Ricky Lambert passes played, Fulham 0 Southampton 3.

Lambert’s main scoring threat is from his presence in the box. He is strong in the air and likes to pull on to opposition full backs at the back post in order to get headers. He also possesses a canon for a shot, which can often see him being a danger to score from free kicks.

Ricky Lambert is a real handful and the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Southampton need to guard against his movement, especially pulling on to our full backs.

Last season Andre Villas-Boas used Jan Vertonghen at left back in order to effectively get three centre backs on the field against him. Lambert is not a threat to run in-behind, so bigger full backs such as Vertonghen make it harder for him to use his height and strength against them. The problem for Tim Sherwood is that this time he doesn’t have that luxury with our current shortage of defenders.

Pressuring the keeper

Southampton do like to play out from the back and can get caught. They’ve had several high profile errors this season. Artur Boruc’s at the Emirates when he faffed on the ball, allowing Giroud to dispossess him and score, was one. In the game prior, Yannick Sagbo also profited from another gaff from Boruc playing around with the ball at the back.

In total Southampton have conceded 8 goals from errors this season. Only four Premier League teams have conceded more from defensive lapses – Man City, Stoke, Norwich and most worryingly, us.

The Tottenham tactics for Southampton vs Spurs would see us do well to pressure the keeper, trying to hurry him and his defenders in to errors.

Spurs vs Southampton outlook

We have struggled off the back of Europa League games this season. Facing a high tempo pressing side like Southampton is not an ideal opponent to face after our trip to Benfica.

The key will be to get players in-behind their full backs and so two strikers may be the way to go here. That is if we play a narrow midfield to avoid being overrun from having an additional man up top. Two forwards are also a good pressing weapon against a Saints side that does like to play it around at the back.

Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez will be the main dangers, but this game could well be made for Roberto Soldado, if we are quick in transition.

Spurs vs Southampton prediction: Spurs 1 Southampton 1.

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