Spurs v Southampton: EA PPI Preview

White Hart Lane plays host to high-flying Southampton this Sunday, in what is set to be a tough test for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Tottenham sit five points behind Southampton in the league and a win would allow them to close that gap and start to put pressure on the teams around them. Last season’s equivalent fixture saw Spurs clinch a last gasp 3-2 win, and this weekend’s encounter has the potential to be just as entertaining.

Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli has continued his prolific start to the season, scoring again against Arsenal in last weekend’s North London derby. Chadli now has 4 goals in 5 Premier League games, with a conversion rate of 36.4%, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Chadli is likely to start this weekend and there is no reason why he should not extend his run of goalscoring, should he produce similar performances to those he has displayed in recent weeks. Chadli is 17/2 with 888sport to be first goalscorer against Southampton.

The most involved player on the pitch so far this season has been Etienne Capoue. The majority of play has gone through the central midfield, and Capoue has made 417 successful passes thus far in the Premier League, the most of any Spurs player and fourth most in the division. The closest to him in the Tottenham squad is Christian Eriksen who has successfully completed 268 passes, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Another midfielder who Pochettino seemingly rates highly is Nabil Bentaleb. The Algerian has shown a particularly good work ethic this season and has recorded an average speed of 7.4km/h this season, the highest of any Spurs player who has played a full 90 minutes, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Throughout the summer, Tottenham were interested in Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, but the French midfielder is still lining up for Southampton this weekend, and his form so far this season vindicates the club’s decision to do all they could to hold on to him. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has scored three goals, won more tackles than anyone else in the squad (25) and covered more ground than any other Premier League player, running a total of 72.4km this season – and has arguably been their player of the season so far.

One player who would rival Schneiderlin for this title is Graziano Pellè. The imposing striker has the second most shots on target in the Premier League so far this season with ten, and he has been rewarded with four goals, ranking him third in the top-scorers list for the season, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Pellè is 7/4 to score at any time with 888sport.

He, along with Dusan Tadic have been revelations this season. Tadic already has three assists in his debut season in the Premier League. The winger has made ten successful crosses, which has played a large part in Pellè’s goalscoring form this season. Only Stewart Downing has delivered more successful balls in to the box than Tadic in the Premier League and the Serbian should prove a huge threat to the Spurs defence this weekend.

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Domino two is down! Graziano Pellè: The Lowdown

Someone said that once Tadic was signed it would be like dominoes in terms of incoming transfers. Well the first has fallen as Feyenoord forward Graziano Pellè has completed his move to the club.

It has hardly been a secret the Italian was on the verge of rejoining the coach who has overseen the two most successful seasons of his career in Holland, but what exactly is it that the club is investing in?

I caught up with what I think we can now consider ‘georgeweahcousin.com‘s Dutch correspondent’  Will Burns from totaldutchfootball.com and Feyenoord fan  Jacco van Keulen from wijzijnfeijenoord.nl (answers to follow) to see what they think Pellè can bring to St. Mary’s.

It’s taken a bit of time, but finally Pellè is a Saint. Is this the man to replace the talisman of the last five years (Rickie Lambert)?

WB ‘Pellè is a player I have admired for the past two seasons and I feel he is a perfect fit for the Premier League. At 6ft 4 inches, even though he is tall and physically strong, he is a delight to watch on the ball.’

There has been some talk of his hot temper. Given our experiences with Osvaldo, can this be tamed?

WB ‘I am unsure of Osvaldo as he is a player I have not followed but Pelle can be a hot head indeed. He has a great winning mentality and he can be explosive when things to do not go his way and has been known to sulk if his side are losing an important games.’

Welcome Graziano!

Welcome Graziano!

What are Pellè’s main strengths and weaknesses?

WB ‘He has a lot of strengths – excellent finishing, fantastic in the air, immense strength holding the ball up, great awareness. For weaknesses, the sulking and his temperament can be his only real downfalls.’

Forwards like Suarez and Bony have moved to the PL from Holland and been fantastic, van Wolfswinkel and Altidore not so much. Can Pellè make the transition?

WB ‘In my opinion, yes. A lot of strikers struggle with the pace and power of the Premier League – well the pace is faster in the Eredivisie and this guy is a massive 6ft 4 and immensely strong. Can he handle it, yes, if someone can get the ball crossed to him, he is beating that defender and the ball is ending up in the back of the net.’

Finally, both Tadic and Pellè have spoken of the ambition at Saints much like Koeman has. Are these players to take us up another level?

WB ‘Unsure about another level, as this is only two players in an eleven man team, and two players in a 20 man squad but they can certainly help out. If Southampton keep the ball on the ground, play football and do not resort to the long ball which many teams do here in England, Tadic will be a success. After watching Rickie Lambert, I know Pelle is a much classier striker and could surpass any successes the Scouser had for Southampton. The thought of Tadic and Pelle linking up is an exciting prospect, especially under Ronald Koeman. I will certainly focus on watching Southampton next year… when I find the time to watch the Premier League that is.’

So there we have it! Thanks to Jacco and Will for helping with this, make sure you check out wijzijnfeijenoord.nl and totaldutchfootball.com! Can’t wait for the next domino to fall…

Chris

What a Coup Man! Ronald Koeman: The Lowdown

I honestly didn’t think I’d be writing about another new Saints manager this soon, but as the disappointment of Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to enter the Premier League sack race lingered like a bad smell today’s long awaited official announcement that Dutch legend Ronald Koeman has replaced him has brought a feel good factor back to St. Mary’s.

Mr. Koeman dashed my 14 year old dreams back in 1993 when his freekick (he’s going to flip one!) saw England fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but now he is the man that has the responsibility of continuing the progression of my beloved Saints.

As is customary on georgeweahscousin.com, rather than give my uninformed opinions on what we can expect from the former centre half I spoke to those who truly know.

Last night I spoke to Feyenoord supporter Jacco van Keulen from wijzijnfeijenoord.nl and Dutch football expert Will Burns from totaldutchfootball.com.

Welcome to Saints Ronald!

Welcome to Saints Ronald!

Firstly, Koeman takes over on the back of Saints best ever Premier League season. Do you think he can have an immediate impact? Perhaps even improve on it?

JvK  ‘Well, let me be honest on this one. When Koeman arrived at Feyenoord we were really sceptical. His name wasn’t that popular among the supporters. He was pretty much known as someone who was tactically poor, and as someone who would jump on a train to the next club as soon as he got the chance. We couldn’t have been more wrong, Koeman surprised us all.

Yes I do think he will have an impact. He has guts and isn’t afraid to try something completely new. As far as results go Saints were pretty good this year, and I do think Koeman needs some time to adapt, but I think he will do a good job, and that Saints have chosen a great manager.’

WB ‘With any manager coming into a new league, it is almost impossible to predict and Ronald Koeman has had previous bad experiences in other countries out of comfort zone of the Eredivisie. While managing Benfica and Valencia he failed to make an impact and even placed the latter in relegation trouble. However, Koeman will have more experience on the touchline now and will thrive on this challenge and will give it his all to make it a successful tenure.’

Mauricio Pochettino was a popular figure at St. Mary’s serving up fantastic football and decent results, how will Koeman’s style of play impress us?

JvK ‘Koeman has a lot of guts. He always tries to surprise the opposition. He will know how the opposition plays, and he is very good at picking a team to suit the style of the opposition. He has the help of his brother Erwin, who has also been manager at Feyenoord, with more limited player resources than Ronald. They both like an attractive style of play, and as long as they have the players for that, they will try to satisfy the support.’

WB ‘Koeman likes attacking football, at Feyenoord, the last few seasons, some great young wingers emerged from the youth teams and Koeman played to their strengths. He placed a big Italian striker Graziano Pelle into the middle of the park and let the wingers bang crosses in for him. He likes using pace so look for him to bring through some speed to the Southampton attack.’

Saints pride themselves on their development of youth players and bringing them into the first team and eventually becoming international footballers, it seems in Koeman we may have the right man to continue this. How did he implement this at Feyenoord?

JvK ‘Well, he didn’t had a choice. Feyenoord weren’t able to bring new players in, so he had to take a look at the youth. He immediately put young players on the pitch and they had an incredible impact. Feyenoord have the best youth players in Holland. There were some youngsters who were already pretty close to the first team, and he just let them play. At first some of them had some adjustment problems, but most of them have become international players also. Just check out the dutch national team. Koeman is very good with young players and I certainly think he can continue to bring them into the first team for Southampton.’

WB ‘In the Netherlands, nearly every club brings through the youth which is what makes the Eredivisie one of the most exciting leagues in the world. The hungry attackers versus the inexperienced defenders, which provides lots of chances created. You don’t need me to tell you about the vast of talent that the Saints have brought through and Koeman will be a huge fan of this. The amount of players from Feyenoord over the past 12 months that made their debut for the Oranje national side is immense.

Stefan de Vrij (22), Daryl Janmaat (24), Terence Kongolo (20), Bruno Martins Indi (22) and Jordy Clasie (22) are all currently in the World Cup squad with Jean-Paul Boëtius (20) and Tonny Vilhena (19) just missing out. You can see from that list of the progression of those players under Koeman, so I can see that is one thing the Dutchman will be aspiring to do at Southampton.’

Ronald will be assisted by brother Erwin and fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg.

Ronald will be assisted by brother Erwin and fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg.

Many of Saints first team (Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren most prominently) are being linked with moves away from the club. How is Koeman as a leader, could he persuade them to stay?

JvK ‘Well, I don’t think he is going to do that. Koeman isn’t a manager who wants to convince players to stay, if they want to leave they can leave. He will give his opinion about the transfers though, and if I was a player I should listen to that. Koeman knows how to plan your career as a player, but he wont try to keep them at the club, that’s up to the players.’

WB ‘I think he could, he’s a great man manager and motivator and also a well respected figure in the world of football. Not only could keep players at the club, if he had the chance and some funds, he attract some of the world’s best. You have to remember, this guy is a winner. Across Holland as a player, he won domestic honours as well as starring in European Cup winning teams at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona. On top of that, he was also major part of the Netherlands’ European Championship winning side in 1988. Anyone with those credentials should be enough to build a team.’

Are there any negative aspects of his management style that we should be prepared for?

JvK ‘He can be a bit harsh from time to time. We have seen him talk negative about his own players several times. Also he can get into disagreements with players, especially when those players think they are larger than the club.’ 

WB ‘The style of possession play and attacking football that he likes to instruct his team to do could leave gaps at the back in the Premier League. Other than that, nothing really springs to mind, I guess time will tell.’

And finally, we are already being linked with the likes of Graziano Pelle, Lex Immers and Virgil van Dijk. Do you see Koeman going back to Feyenoord and who do you see as decent acquisitions for Saints?

JvK ‘We at Feyenoord have a love/hate relationship with Lex Immers. I personally think he is a great player with amazing stamina, but he is very bad in front of the goal. He needs 100 chances to score a goal. Graziano Pelle has been fantastic for Feyenoord. We didnt expect that, because he was terrible at his previous clubs. As long as the players around him know what to do, he will score. But he also has a bad temper. Further, Feyenoord have several young players who have been linked with several clubs already. But for now I think Lex Immers would be a decent signing.’

WB ‘Pellè has had disciplinary problems through the last 12 months at Feyenoord in which the club actually banned the player from selection for four games. The big Italian booted a window after losing to vital match in the title race earlier this year, then insulted a Fox Sports interviewer the week after. This is a big no-no in the world of Dutch football, where the philosophy over there is all about respect. Koeman will not have liked this, even though the player was slotting in around 25-30 goals per season. I cannot see him coming over to England due to that, even though he’s a big strong guy with good feet, great in the air and would be a perfect fit for replacing Rickie Lambert. Another downside is that he is 29 years old now and not someone that could be progressed at the club.

I personally do not think Lex Immers would be good enough for the Premier League but big Virgil would. He’s never played under Koeman as of yet but I’m sure Ronald would love him there.’

So there we have it! Thanks to Jacco and Will for helping with this, make sure you check out wijzijnfeijenoord.nl and totaldutchfootball.com! Sounds like the adventure isn’t over for Saints…

Chris