Two teams in need of wins at both ends of the table meet on Saturday, as Tottenham travel to St Mary’s to take on Southampton.
The hosts will be searching for a big result as the race for survival gets tighter at the bottom of the Premier League. Just five points separate rock-bottom Southampton with 12th-placed Crystal Palace – with all those teams in between in with a chance of falling out of the top tier. The Saints are at the foot on 22 points, with just two points the difference to West Ham, who sit in 17th in safety. A win for the South Coast outfit could be enough to see them rise up the table and out of the bottom three, depending on other results.
Ruben Selles has had fairly mixed start since taking charge of Southampton following Nathan Jones’ sacking last month. Selles got off to the perfect start with a surprise away win at Chelsea, before a disappointing defeat away to fellow relegation contenders, Leeds.
The Saints then exited the FA Cup with a shock defeat to struggling League Two outfit Grimsby, before responding with two positive results in the league. Southampton beat Leicester at home two weeks ago, before a good performance at Old Trafford last weekend. Southampton could only manage a draw though against a 10-man Manchester United, before being defeated in midweek. Brentford were the visitors to St Mary’s on Wednesday and the in-form Bees came away with all three points thanks to goals from Ivan Toney and Yoane Wissa in a 2-0 win.
Tottenham also need to keep winning games in order to keep their noses in front in the race for the top four. Spurs go into the weekend in fourth, but the gap to fifth-place Newcastle could be shortened to just one point if the Magpies can beat Nottingham Forest in Friday’s night-time fixture.
The North Londoners are two points behind Man United in third but have played a game more than the Red Devils. Liverpool and Brighton are also not too far behind the top four in sixth and seventh place.
A Harry Kane brace and a Heung-min Son strike saw Spurs pick up a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest in their last outing last weekend. The win put an end to a disappointing run for Spurs which came with scrutiny for Antonio Conte and pressure on the Italian’s future.
Spurs had been dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship outfit Sheffield United, beaten in the Premier League by a struggling Wolves side, then were knocked out of the Champions League following a dismal performance in the 0-0 home leg against AC Milan, with the Italians 1-0 up from the first leg. The win against Forest will come as a sigh of relief for Conte’s side, who will be hoping it can be the start of a run that will see them push on and solidify a place in the top four.
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