Three key battles as Spurs take on Southampton

Erik Lamela

As Tottenham host Mauricio Pochettino's old side, we look at three match ups that may decide the contest.

Much of the talk ahead of Southampton's visit to Tottenham on Sunday is sure to be concerned with Mauricio Pochettino and his first match against his former club.

In reality though, it looks very much like the Saints and their vastly altered squad have adjusted to life without the Argentine better than Spurs have adjusted to life under him.

The South Coast club are currently sitting in second place in the Premier League and are on a six match winning run that includes a recent League Cup win at Arsenal, so Tottenham will have to be at their best if they hope to win three points from the game at White Hart Lane, especially considering the North Londoners are on their own run, albeit the slightly more negative six games without winning.

Below we list three battles that may take place on the field that could swing the game in either side's favour.

Younes Kaboul vs Graziano Pelle - Argubaly, the Italian is the Premier League's second most on-form striker after Diego Costa, boasting an excellent 5 goals in 8 games, including last weeks astonishing overhead kick winner against QPR. Against Spurs, he will come up against a defender who enjoyed his best game in a couple of seasons against Arsenal, with Younes Kaboul fully justifying his manager's decision to make him captain following Michael Dawson's departure. If Kaboul is to carry on with such towering form, Pelle may find he gets little change from the Spurs defence.

Erik Lamela vs Ryan Bertrand - Lamela has certainly been a better player this year than he managed in his debut campaign at White Hart Lane, and the former Roma star has 3 assist to his name in the Premier League, making him joint third in the division when it comes to creating goals. However, he is still a little hit-and-miss for a player as talented, and as expensive as he is, and Lamela will be up against Southampton's on form fullback and Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand on Sunday, who has made an excellent start to his Saints career, to the extent that most Southampton fans may be asking, "Shaw who?"

Etienne Capoue vs Morgan Schneiderlin - Southampton's midfielder was very much on Tottenham's radar this summer, and despite a protracted affair, the Saints managed to keep the 24-year-old at St Mary's. And they have been rewarded with the France international's best ever club form, seeing him score 3 times already this season and star in an at times more attacking midfield role. Tottenham's own Frenchman Etienne Capoue has done well since winning a starting role under Pochettino, and will need to be on his game to restrict Schneiderlin's influence in the middle of the park.

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