Tottenham kept the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea yesterday with a 1-0 win over the Saints, but they did it the hard way, leaving it until four minutes from time to find the winner, which inevitably, came from the left boot of Gareth Bale.
Spurs looked lake a pale imitation of the team that stunned Manchester City into submission a fortnight ago - they lacked width and creativity while Bale was anonymous until his 25-yard strike stole all three points for the hosts at the death.
A win at Chelsea will see Spurs leapfrog Arsenal and put Villas-Boas' team in pole position to secure a top-four finish.
But the 35-year-old, who will be returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he was sacked as Chelsea boss, knows his team will have to put on a better display if they are to win their first game at Stamford Bridge since 1990.
"We didn't play well in the first half, but we deserve (the three points) after what we did in the second half," the Tottenham manager told Spurs TV Online after the game.
"We improved and Southampton closed the spaces, they gave us lots of difficulties, but we got what we deserved in the end.
"It was probably not about the performance. It was about getting the result.
"It was not the 'Spurs way', but in the end it keeps us in the frame and hopefully we will improve, and play better against Chelsea. It's a big, big game."