Tottenham v Southampton: Cup final tune-up should be fun

It's been a turbulent week already for Tottenham and their fans, but Kevin Hatchard believes they'll still play an entertaining game against Southampton.

Spurs fans rocked by seismic shocks

In years to come, this may go down as one of the most intriguing and indeed monumental weeks in Tottenham's modern history. Not only did they hitch their wagon to the widely reviled "League" (you can call it super if you want, but I won't), but they then hurled another curveball by parting company with manager Jose Mourinho just days before a rare cup final. Dispensing with Mourinho's predecessor Mauricio Pochettino looked like a risk at the time, and now losing the Argentinean seems like a vainglorious folly, a failed attempt to gather some of the Portuguese coach's fading lustre.

Mourinho will obviously think differently, but it's not hard to justify his dismissal. Spurs tumbled out of the FA Cup and Europa League, and a run of one win in five league games may have finally snuffed out their hopes of finishing in the top four.

Of course, if their cabal's footballing burglary is a success, that may not matter, but there was clearly concern that Mourinho wasn't maximising the potential of a talented squad. The snarling, embittered figure that was jettisoned by Manchester United had re-emerged in North London after a positive start to life at Spurs, and chairman Daniel Levy decided enough was enough.

Ryan Mason and Chris Powell have been placed in temporary charge, and I'd expect an immediate change in approach. Rather than the cloying, reactive (and sometimes successful, it should be said) football that Mourinho once again succumbed to, players may well now get more of a chance to express themselves and play in a more enterprising manner. Given that Player Development chief Mason was forced to retire at 26 after suffering a serious head injury, there is something delightful about the idea of him leading Spurs out at Wembley.

Harry Kane (one of Mourinho's strongest loyalists) is unlikely to start, given that the League Cup final against Manchester City is on the horizon, and that he limped out of the draw with Everton. Matt Doherty and Ben Davies could also be sidelined.

Rueful Saints can only play for pride

Southampton left Wembley weighed down with regrets, after an FA Cup semi-final in which they weren't able to produce their best football. Whether it was the effects of a long season or the draining tension of the occasion, a side that plays with verve and energy when it is in top gear was simply unable to find the intensity required to match a Leicester City side that booked a final spot with a 1-0 win.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhüttl admitted his side was nervous, and after a disappointing league campaign, this was a bitter blow. Southampton probably only need to win one of their remaining seven league matches to avoid the drop, and they may not even need that. Of course, you could argue that any season that sees Saints retain their top-flight status is a success, but unless they finish very strongly, they won't match last term's points total of 52. Hasenhüttl is a guy who likes to develop players and teams, and wants to feel he is moving in the right direction.

Che Adams is pushing for a return to the starting XI, after Nathan Redmond was selected ahead of him in attack for the semi-final. Midfielder Oriol Romeu is still out.

Spurs are worthy favourites

Southampton's away form is very poor, with seven defeats from the last eight, and just one win in the last ten. As underwhelming as Tottenham were in the final days under Mourinho, and even without Kane, their price of 1.85 to win the game feels right.

Goals on the cards

Mason and Powell are likely to take the handbrake off, and even under Mourinho this might have been a lively game. Tottenham have scored 11 goals across their last four home matches in the Premier League, and five of the last eight have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land.

Southampton have leaked 24 goals in the last seven away matches in the top flight, and five of them have featured at least three goals.

I'll back Over 2.5 Goals here at 1.8.

Son can shine again

Heung-Min Son scored four goals in a 5-2 win in the reverse fixture, and he is 5/4 to have three or more shots in the game. He averages just over two goal attempts per match, but in Kane's absence he may play more of a leading role.



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