After a historic Champions League breakthrough, Tottenham Hotspur hope to sustain that momentum and avoid a fourth consecutive league match without a victory Saturday when they face Southampton at St Mary’s.
One season after the Lilywhites (20-1-8) crashed out of the Champions League in the round of 16 following a second-leg loss to veteran-savvy at home, they finished the job in Germany on Tuesday in professional style, beating Borussia Dortmund 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals for the third time in club history with a 4-0 aggregate over two legs.
“I’m so proud, so happy for the players, for our fans, for the Club, for everyone,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said after the London side progressed to the round of eight for the first time since 2011. “It’s a very proud day. I congratulate the players, the effort was fantastic. It was a tough game but a fantastic result and to be in the quarter-final was our objective.”
Harry Kane killed off the tie with a goal three minutes after the restart, passing Jermain Defoe as the club’s all-time leading scorer in European play with 24 goals. Kane has scored all three of Tottenham’s goals in the four matches they have played since returning from an ankle injury.
“It’s great,” Kane said after raising his overall goal haul to 23 in 35 matches across all competitions. “I remember when Jermain Defoe broke the record a few years ago now (he did it in 2013-14). I’m sure he’ll have a little smile on his face. To do it for this Club is a special feeling.”
In terms of trophies, the Champions League is all they have left as taking one point from their last three league matches has left Tottenham 10 points off Manchester City’s pace with nine matches remaining. They are also suddenly in a fight to hold off hard-charging Manchester United for third in the table, entering this weekend with a three-point advantage on the fellow Champions League quarterfinalists.
Spurs also ended a four-match road losing streak in all competitions with Tuesday’s victory, their first outside Wembley since a last-gasp 2-1 win at Fulham on Jan. 20. Pochettino still has some injury issues to work out as both midfielder Dele Alli and right back Kieran Trippier did not make the trip to Dortmund due to injuries. Southampton would not mind if Alli rested one more match considering he has scored five times in the last six matchups between the clubs.
After setting the lineup, the Argentine boss and former Southampton manager will watch the match from the stands as the FA handed down a two-match ban for improper conduct following his post-match confrontation with referee Mike Dean following Tottenham’s 2-1 loss to Burnley. Pochettino was also fined £10,000 by the FA and had made a public apology shortly after the incident.
There is a chance Alli could be available for this match after missing the last 10 due to a hamstring injury suffered in Tottenham’s win over Fulham on Jan. 24. Trippier picked up a knock last weekend’s north London derby versus Arsenal that ended in a 1-1 draw. There is a possibility defensive midfielder Harry Winks could be held out of this match after grinding through 90 minutes Tuesday while dealing with a hip injury.
Southampton (6-9-14) enter this contest just above the drop in 17th place, two better than Cardiff City. The Saints squandered what could prove to be a valuable point in the relegation scrap last weekend, conceding an 89th-minute goal to Romelu Lukaku in their 3-2 loss at Old Trafford to Manchester United.
It was a crushing defeat for a game Southampton side who took the lead through a first-half screamer by Yan Valery and then looked poised to steal a point after James Ward-Prowse’s well-taken free kick on 75 minutes squared the match at 2.
“It’s really hard. The guys are very, very disappointed after the game and I that they put everything on the pitch that was possible today and showed a fantastic performance,” coach Hasenhüttl told Southampton’s official website. “Mainly the first-half but also in the second-half we showed that we were very, very focused on our match plan and we wanted to get something here. We were not far away from it and also after the 2-1 we did not stop attacking them and creating for us.
“Prowsey scored a fantastic free-kick, it was a gorgeous goal and it’s a pity that Lukaku decided the game for them. “To be proud is one thing but when you wake up tomorrow and you feel that you lost, nobody asks how you lost. It’s like every manager doesn’t like to lose and we had a big chance but it was not enough.”
The Saints have just one win in their last six league matches (1-2-3) and have claimed only 15 points from their 14 matches (3-6-5) at St Mary’s. All three wins, though, have come since Hasenhuttl replaced the sacked Mark Hughes in December.
Hasenhuttl could have the services of striker Danny Ings for this match as the Liverpool loanee has been sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in Southampton’s 1-1 draw versus Burnley on Feb. 2. Midfielder Mario Lemina remains a question mark due to an abdominal injury.
Tottenham are unbeaten in five (4-1-0) against Southampton and seeking their second double in three seasons. They cruised to a 3-1 win at Wembley as Kane scored in the ninth minute and Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Song struck twice in four minutes early in the second half.
Southampton have just one win in the last 13 meetings between the sides (1-2-10) and winless in six (0-2-4) at St Mary’s since Nigel Quashie’s goal on 51 minutes provided a 1-0 victory in 2005.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Southampton 0, Tottenham Hotspur 2.