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Tottenham spurred on to beat Saints after Benfica draw

With both teams’ campaigns in danger of fizzling out, Europa League football is the only thing either side can realistically expect to achieve, even though Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino is rumoured to consider the competition an unnecessary distraction.

Tottenham will want to restore pride, and more importantly give their fans confidence going into the close season. Priced at 5/4 to win, Coral anticipate a close affair, with visitors Southampton in a rich vein of form who themselves are at 9/4. This is further reinforced by the odds for a draw, which are at 9/4.

Spurs could welcome back Emmanuel Adebayor, Mousa Dembele, and Younes Kaboul who were absent for Thursday’s Europa League match against Benfica. Jan Vertonghen could be welcomed back into the team after being suspended for the second leg in Portugal.

For Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Guly do Prado are doubtful, while they will also be without Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama.

It could turn out to be more of an audition for several English players to make a case for their World Cup bids, with Roy Hodgson yet to decide on his final squad. Kyle Walker, and Andros Townsend will be aiming to convince that they are more suited on the right than Liverpool pair Glen Jonhson and Raheem Sterling. They come up against a Southampton duo that could complete the left flank of England’s team, in Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana. This certainly offers intrigue.

Speaking of auditions, in an interesting sub-plot Pochettino has been rumoured to dislodge Sherwood at the Lane, should he fall short of the required standards, though the Argentinian has moved quickly to quash speculation: “Regarding any negotiations there’s no changes from last week,” he told gathered reporters at a press conference on Friday.

“[The Tottenham links] are really nothing to manage. Rumours are perfectly normal in football and we’re completely fine with the rumours hanging around. I don’t really have anything to comment regarding that.

“When I was at Espanyol I was rumoured to be linked with other clubs. Nothing ever came of those rumours and now the same thing is happening at Southampton. So it’s nothing that really phases me in any way.”
We’re offering 6/1 on Sherwood still being at the helm at the start of next season, and he will be hoping to lengthen those odds on Sunday afternoon.

At the business end of the pitch, Adebayor is the favourite in the first goal-scorer market at 9/2, while the Saints’ potent strike pair Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez are both at 13/2 after they hit the net last week against Norwich.
Youngster Sam Gallacher, who also netted in the rout against the Canaries has been the subject of tentative attention from Chelsea this week. Coral price him at 15/2.

Having lost 3-2 to Tottenham at St Mary’s in December, Southampton will be keen to avenge what was seen by many as a surprising defeat. Spurs will consider this as a game to get their season back on track, and boss Sherwood will be feeling the pressure to deliver after an inconsistent spell, and that ever unavoidable rumour mill churning.