|Southampton 2 v 0 Fulham|
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 27th February 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Saints V Fulham The Preview
Wednesday, 27th Feb 2019 11:45
Saints take on Fulham knowing that a win will lift them clear of the bottom three and although not in the final straight approaching the last corner, but defeat will see them facing an uphill task.
Before the cynics start pointing out a number of negative things like the January transfer window, we should go into this game with the positives and that is so far the job Ralph Hasenhuttl has done has been good, if he repeats his first 12 games points total in the final 11 then we will stay up with ease.
That points total has been achieved in the main without any of the player s who have left and certainly without those who did not come in the January window, so although yes we do lack a good quality central defender and a striker, injuries to Michael Obafemi keeping him out till the end of the season change nothing, Obafemi prior to his short cameo on Sunday had played only once under Hasenhuttl that being 25 mins as a sub at Fulham.
The squad that Hasenhuttl has to work with is exactly the same as the one that he has done well with so far and he has done well, we start the day in the bottom three not because of the games he has won and lost, but because of the dire job Mark Hughes did at the start of the season.
Tonight we need to be focused, at the back it will be no surprise to see Jack Stephens out of the starting line up, he needs to be taken out of the firing line, the only question will be whether he will be replaced by Yoshida in a back three or we will stay with the back four who played in the second half at the Emirates.
Personally Im leaning towards a back three but I would bring in Ryan Bertrand as the third defender with Vestergaard and Bednarek to add experience and pace then I would play a central trio of Hojbjerg, Romeu and Ward Prowse with Matt Targett and Jan Valery as wing backs.
Up front I would have Shane Long and Nathan Redmond playing just behind him, this would enable us to get forward fast with Long as a target man to try and hold the ball up where necessary to bring Nathan Redmond into the game.
On the bench I would have Charlie Austin, Stuart Armstrong, Mo Elyounoussi, Yoshida, Josh Sims and Sam Gallagher, an attacking line up yes, but this is a must win game and it does cover all bases.
We need to be positive from the start and not let nerves get the better of us, we should remember that Fulham like Cardiff are only anywhere near us because we gave them goals that cost us dearly, it is all if's and buts but take away Cardiff's six points against us and make it two then we are well clear of them, likewise Fulham, we gifted them all three goals up at Craven Cottage, if they had lost that game they would be below Huddersfield going into this game.
Saints have lost less games than any of those around them including Brighton, our problem is we struggle to finish off a game, if we score goals we concede them, if we dont concede we don't score it's catch 22
That tells us we should play without fear, we win this game and it is massive, we have to go someway to repairing those costly defeats just mentioned, these stats tell us we are not a bad side, we have just made stupid errors.
All footballers make errors, that is not a crime, the crime is to keep making them and that is why we are where we are, Ralph Hasenhuttl must be tearing his hair out at the same players making the same errors, but he does need to do something about it, it can't keep happening.
This squad got us into trouble under Mark Hughes, under Ralph Hasenhuttl it has improved and can continue to improve, but we have to beat those around us, that means starting tonight by beating Fulham.
The team need the crowd behind them, it is backs to the wall and everyone kicking in the same direction, we all do that and we can beat Fulham and beat them well.
Photo: Action Images
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