With Tottenham Hotspur currently sat fifth in the Premier League table with just four games left to play, manager Andre Villas-Boas is acutely aware that victory from this Saturday’s home match with Southampton is an absolute necessity – especially after last week’s draw away to Wigan Athletic.
The 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium, secured thanks to a late own goal from Wigan’s Emmerson Boyce, leaves Spurs trailing north London rivals Arsenal by two points, albeit with a game in hand, and three points behind third-placed Chelsea.
It’s been a difficult spring for AVB. Since Spurs defeated Arsenal 2-1 on March 3, they have accumulated only eights points from a possible 18, compared to the Gunners’ 17 from 21 and Chelsea’s 13 from 18.
There has been some good news for Tottenham this week though, with Gareth Bale crowned PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, as well as the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year.
Few could argue that the Welshman is undeserving of those accolades, and his manager is confident his prized asset will still be at White Hart Lane at the start of next season.
With a total of 16 goals in 21 appearances for club and country in 2013, it’s easy to see why the Portuguese is desperate to fend off the vultures this summer.
And priced at 7/2 he looks decent value to open the scoring on Saturday against his former club, just as he did when the two sides met last October at St. Mary’s, where Spurs were 2-1 victors.
The Saints may attract a few punts given their recent exploits against the division’s big boys, but last Saturday’s capitulation against West Bromwich Albion suggests the mid-table end of season malaise has set in.
The ease with which they surrendered their six-match unbeaten run was staggering, frankly, and with Gaston Ramirez and Danny Fox sent-off as well, not to mention the injury to England’s next left-back, Luke Shaw, things could get even worse against Spurs.
Just imagine it; the prospect of Aaron Lennon against stand-in left-back and own-goal scoring machine Jos Hooiveld. That’s enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.
Mauricio Pochettino does, however, possess Rickie Lambert, and the Scouse striker has plundered eight of his 14 league goals on the road this season. He is priced at 21/2 to net first or last at the weekend, and they are odds that could be too big to be ignored. Alternatively he is 3/1 to net any time.
Spurs lead the way in bwin’s 3way market at the short price of 9/20, with the draw 34/10, and Southampton are 11/2 to record only their fourth away success of the campaign.
In reality this is a match that Spurs should win with ease. They have a decent home record this season, losing only three times, and Tottenham have an excellent Premier League record against Southampton; they have won nine of the 13 meetings between the two sides in north London, with an aggregate score of 33-13.
Odds of 10/1 for a 3-1 Spurs win could be worth considering, but given Bale’s form and the curse of a player scoring against his former team, then I’d look at the 7/2 he strikes first to set Tottenham up perfectly for their crucial trip to Chelsea in midweek for what could be a Champions League decider.