Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur preview: Spurs should cruise to three points...should

Shaun Botterill

Tottenham should not have a problem with Southamption, but Spurs have a history of being troubled by teams they should dominate.

Southampton are bad. Yeah, being 18th in the table makes that clear, but they are even worse than their place on the table would indicates.

After eight matches, the Saints have conceded 24 times. That is seven more goals than the next worst defense in the league. Worst of all, it isn't that surprising. Consider that on Sunday their back line will likely be Nathaniel Clyne, Jos Hooiveld, Jose Fonte and Danny Fox. Who? Exactly.

The one thing that the Saints have going for them is their attack, which has found the net 13 times. Of course, that is just good for the league average, but compared to their defense it looks stellar.

That Southamption is a poor team bodes well for their opponent this weekend, which just so happens to be Tottenham Hotspur. Yes, Spurs get a run at these meager Saints.

Tottenham didn't look great last weekend in a loss to Chelsea, nor did they impress in Europa League action against Maribor, which makes Southampton the perfect pick-me-up for the struggling side. That's especially true because Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Younes Kaboul and Scott Parker are all still out, while Moussa Dembele remains a doubt. Spurs are running out of players.

That isn't the case at Southampton, where they have a few injured, but nothing major. That is except for Gaston Ramirez, who will be out for several more weeks so the Saints do have someone to throw into the "major" category and it is very major.

The Uruguayan is Southampton's best midfielder and without him that potent, or at least not awful attack is not nearly as good. His play in the middle completely changes the way the Saints play and without him, Nigel Adkins has been forced to go into a whole other direction. He tried a 4-4-2, but that didn't pan out so well as the midfield was overwhelmed so he is back to a five-man midfield, which helps him win the numbers game, but hardly the quality game.

What the formation didn't change was the acres of space it gives opponents between the defense and midfield. Neither Morgan Schneiderlin nor Steven Davis have the combination of range and discipline to properly sit in front of the defense, which has Clint Dempsey salivating. He will be able to work in acres of space, while Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale will both get full runs at the defense when they cut in.

This match sets up to be a Tottenham romp. Their hole in the center of defense, William Gallas, can be exploited by Rickie Lambert, but it is tough to see the striker getting the requisite service. And even if Dembele cannot play, a Ramirez-less midfield shouldn't post too many problems for Tottenham in the center of the pitch. Combine that with the way Spurs should have chances to exploit the Southampton defense and all should be well for the Lilywhites.

Of course, Spurs havent always done well when a match is seemingly handed to them on a silver platter. Maybe this team is different. Even if it isn't this shouldn't be the match that Spurs slip up. Southampton are really bad.

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