BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson has praised Ralph Hasenhuttl for overseeing Southampton’s burst up the Premier League table.
The Saints are three points off fifth now and one of their most impressive league results in that time was the 1-o win over Tottenham on New Year’s Day – and Lawrenson expects a repeat this weekend.
He said: “Southampton are on the up and their form is so good they are now only three points behind Tottenham, three points off fifth place. That tells you how much Saints have picked up, and they have been winning games by playing extremely well, not by being jammy.
“Ralph Hasenhuttl was willing to take the blame when his side lost 9-0 at home to Leicester, so he deserves the credit for turning things around, with the same group of players. I’d back Hasenhttl again here, too. Saints beat Tottenham when they met at St Mary’s in the league on New Year’s Day, and I can see this tie having the same outcome. 2-1.”
TBR’s View – Hasenhuttl’s modern approach makes Mourinho look like yesterday’s man
Hasenhuttl hasn’t achieved anything like what Jose Mourinho has in his career, and the Portuguese would likely bristle at the pair even being compared.
But while Mourinho has toiled with Tottenham; two Premier League clean sheets, leaking goals and struggling to create chances, Hasenhuttl has rocketed Southampton up the league.
That’s with a high-pressing, flexible gameplan at a time when he has shown all his man-management skills to turn the club around after the 9-0 against Leicester.
There was only one side with a clear identity in the meeting between the side’s on the first day of the year and perhaps that will prove to be the case this weekend.