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Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Southampton

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Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Southampton
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Tottenham caretaker manager Tim Sherwood heads to Southampton on Sunday for his second match in charge.

The second game of Tim Sherwood's as yet undetermined tenure as Tottenham Hotspur manager sees him take his team to Southampton on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side have failed to win any of their last five Premier League matches. Nonetheless, the Saints' impressive start to the season has marked them out as a team to be wary of.

Sherwood and his Tottenham players will not need telling twice. After confidence-sapping losses to Liverpool and West Ham United, just about any opponent would have put them a little on edge this weekend.

Getting away from White Hart Lane might lift Spurs' spirits slightly. Except for losses to Arsenal and Manchester City, it has been their form on the road which has kept them in touch with the division's pacesetters.

With four fixtures in the next fortnight, Spurs have ample opportunity to try and narrow the gap with their intended top-four rivals (prior to the weekend's action they sit four points behind in seventh).

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Spurs' 5-0 loss to Liverpool last time out in the league has left confidence at the club at a low ebb.

The challenge right now is regaining the form and confidence that is threatening to dissipate completely following two dispiriting defeats and the departure of Andre Villas-Boas.

For Sherwood and his fellow coaches, it is one affected by the uncertainty over their job prospects. That is, attempting to negotiate what the team needs in the present, whilst pondering its future direction should they stay on.

The former is, of course, more pressing. But decisions they take now could shape things further down the line.

We got an inkling of some of their ideas in Wednesday's Capital One Cup loss to the Hammers. Emmanuel Adebayor was brought back into the fold, but Erik Lamela was neither in the team nor listed as a substitute. Jermain Defoe started, Roberto Soldado did not.

Reading too much into any of these selections would be unwise considering things could be changed up considerably versus Southampton. Tim Sherwood did confirm a few definite absentees when talking to the media pre-match, via SpursOfficial on Twitter:

Adebayor and Defoe's good work back up front together against West Ham—a perception notably raised by their excellent combination for Spurs' goal—will likely see them retained in attack. And with them, the 4-4-2 formation that was fielded to incorporate them both.

Equally nailed on to start is first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman had arguably his best game in weeks on Wednesday, making a season-high six saves (as tallied by TottenhamHotspur.com) as he did his best effort to keep West Ham out.

Following his suspension, captain Michael Dawson should return alongside Vlad Chiriches in central defence. In the seven matches they have started together, they have lost only once (1-0 to Newcastle United). It will be hoped that their balanced combination will restore some solidity, especially in the form of the shared defensive aptitude that was lacking alongside the less experienced Etienne Capoue.

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The likely renewal of Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson's defensive partnership will be hoped by Spurs to restore some solidity to the team.

Danny Rose and Kyle Walker will both be expected to play at full-back, the former having played an hour in midweek as he continues his return.

The four who will start in midfield is not so easily predicted, bar Aaron Lennon who has been in decent form on the right, and whose pace will be needed in the absence of Andros Townsend.

Away from home, Sherwood might opt for a more combative approach in midfield. Although we have no precedence at this level to know his preference for sure.

Sandro seemed to indicate on social media that this one might be a little too soon for him, and Paulinho is still suspended.

Despite a quieter couple of games, Mousa Dembele could be called upon in an attempt to maintain a semblance of consistency. Lewis Holtby's energetic approach might be harnessed to try to nullify the effectiveness of Southampton's own lively approach, with the German encouraged to get in and amongst them. Both on and off the ball.

Left midfield could be one of several candidates. On the basis of him being given the nod ahead of others against West Ham, Gylfi Sigurdsson might again be chosen this time.

So, Sherwood's Spurs will seek to stop the Saints at St. Mary's on Sunday. The caretaker boss will hope the alliteration there does not extend to him being sacked from his role for a specially selected successor. Success on the South Coast shall be his salvation in that regard.

For Spurs supporters, a good result is more immediately important than the identity of their club's next full-time manager.

 

Predicted Tottenham lineup versus Southampton: Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson (c), Vlad Chiriches, Danny Rose; Aaron Lennon, Lewis Holtby, Mousa Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson; Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe.

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