Tottenham have officially hit rock bottom.
Fresh off a 5-0 loss against Liverpool, manager Andre Villas-Boas was sacked, leaving eighth-place Spurs without a manager and with plenty of questions about their immediate future in a post-Gareth Bale existence.
Things won't get any easier against Southampton, who have lost just once at home all season long and are a disciplined, defensively sound side. With a lot of parity between the top eight teams in the Premier League this season, a top-four spot was always going to be difficult.
The stakes have only raised for Tottenham. Can Spurs turn their season around against Southampton?
When: Sunday, December 22 at 8:30 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. GMT)
Where: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England
Watch: NBC Sports Network; NBC Sports Live Extra; BBC One (U.K.); Sky Go (U.K.)
Odds: Southampton (36.9 percent), Tottenham (34.8 percent) and draw (28.3 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
Tottenham have had a lot of trouble scoring from open play this season, and have managed just 15 goals on the season. Only five Premier League teams have less. Now, they face a Southampton defense that has conceded just 15 goals all year, tied with Everton for best in the league.
So how in the world will Spurs score in this game?
It gets worse for Tottenham. Andros Townsend is out with a hamstring injury, while Paulinho is ineligible to play while serving a suspension. Both have been key players for the side this season, and each will be sorely missed in a game where goals will be hard to come by.
But as if the sacking of the manager and the team's horrible form of late haven't been bad enough, Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers recently went out of his way to note his pleasure with the decision to take the Liverpool position.
From Sky Sports:
They (Tottenham) are a great club and one of the things I looked at was the history.
They'd had 11 managers in 18 years there so, for someone like myself, I needed to create something. I needed to go to a club that was going to give us that opportunity.
I am more than happy with the choice I made to come here and hopefully in time it will prove to be the right one.
His words are particularly relevant immediately following the sacking of Villas-Boas, and it certainly seemed like a veiled shot at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
Of course, while Tottenham try to find an escape route from the train wreck they find themselves on, Southampton have struggled of late as well. The Saints are winless in their last five Premier League contests, though the schedule has gotten very difficult (losses to Arsenal, Aston Villa and Chelsea, draws against Manchester City and Newcastle).
Which team will reverse course and come away with the much-needed points?
It's really hard to bet on Tottenham at the moment. They are dealing with a mid-season change in manager, they've lost two straight and against teams currently in the upper half of the table, they've managed just six of a possible 24 points.
With Southampton's strong home form and stingy defense, it's hard to see Spurs figuring things out against the Saints.
Southampton wins, 1-0.
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