Get the lowdown on Tottenham Hotspur ahead of Wednesday's fixture from Ben Pearce, the Spurs correspondent for the Ham & High newspaper.
How would you assess Tottenham’s start to the season?
It’s been an interesting one. They’ve been quite inconsistent, really. If you look at their results there was a really good sequence of wins up until the point they beat Man City at home. I think everyone at that point was talking about them being genuine title contenders again and thinking that maybe they have even moved on and progressed from last season.
But then they had a couple of key players out at the same time in both Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld. They struggled to win and had quite a poor run which probably wiped out the good run they had had before then. Since then it’s been a bit of inconsistency and struggling to get momentum and confidence up.
Which players have stood out this season?
There have been quite a few players that have had good spells, but not really good halves to the season. Son Heung-min, for example, was player of the month at the beginning of the season but that’s probably been his best spell and he hasn’t really kicked on from there.
Christian Eriksen has just come to life in the last few games, which will definitely be bad news for Southampton, but he hasn’t really played that well up until now. Dele Alli has not been quite as good as last season and Kane and Alderweirled have been out for spells. Mousa Dembélé is kind of on and then not; he also keeps picking up little injuries as well.
What has Tottenham’s recent form been like?
In the last month we have seen the results improve. It’s probably not a very good time for Southampton to play Spurs because they are just starting to look like they are finding their feet and a bit of rhythm now. They are being able to put their first team out more regularly and go into this game from a ten-day break, which at Christmas time is extremely rare!
Creativity and goals have been a bit of a problem at some stages this season, but now you probably feel like they will score a couple. What I will say is that if you look at the last five results on paper, Spurs have probably won the games you would expect them to win. It certainly feels like Southampton will be more challenging that those games, with the exception of Manchester United away, so I think it will tell us a lot more about where Spurs are at this year.
What have you made of Southampton this season?
Being a club reporter I don’t get to see a lot of the other teams, but I think Southampton appear to have possibly had the Europa League issue. It’s always interesting to see the teams that are experiencing Europa League for the first time, because there is always the debate every year at Spurs about how hard you go at that competition.
I saw the Southampton game against Inter Milan and that was obviously a great night for the club, but it can be difficult to combine those European experiences with the league campaign and perform at the same levels.
Nobody is really paying a lot of attention to Southampton in the league at the moment, and that’s not always the worst thing. I think their manager is quite understated. He is not the type to say lots of big stuff and get you on the back pages. They are one of those teams that could quietly click into gear and suddenly you see them around 7th or 8th place and think they are in good form.
How do you see Wednesday’s game going?
If the game had been a month ago I probably would have gone for a draw, but with the form they are in I have to go 2-1 Tottenham - the same as the Burnley game. I think Spurs’ full-backs are in really good form at the moment. Rose and Walker have a goal and three assists between them in the last two games, so they are absolutely flying and will have plenty of rest coming into the match.
Eriksen is also in his best form of the season and he is a really important player. When he is firing the team look so much more dangerous. Kane, Alderweireld and Dembele will all be available, so it’s almost as close to the first-team as they have been all season. There’s definitely a lot of positives around Spurs.