|Sheffield United 0 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th September 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Sheffield United Big Game For Saints
Tuesday, 10th Sep 2019 09:42
It might only be the fifth game of the Premier League season, but the trip to Sheffield United is going to be one that sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Saints have made a solid start to the season in the League, they haven't pulled up any trees, but aside from the 15 minute spell that cost them dearly at Burnley on the opening day, they have put in three decent performances to earn four points.
Although it was not the most tricky start, it was still tougher than most, so bodes well for a good start to the season.
But the trip to Sheffield United is perhaps the game that will set the tone for the next few months, newly promoted sides seem to either bomb completely at the start of a season or have a good start followed by a steady decline,
After promotion some teams seem to find an initial surge of adrenalin that can only be sustained for a short period before normality sets in.
Sheffield United so far have made the best start of the three promoted clubs and sit one above Saints on 5 points after a win and two draws, but with due respect to the Blades they do not seem to have the firepower to keep this up, so it is Saints job to bring them back to the ground with a short sharp shock.
That means keeping it tight at the back whilst taking our chances up front and controlling the game.
The good news is that they are not prolific scorers and 2 of their 5 goals scored so far have been last minute equalisers so that should tell us something.
But they also have the ability to concede and this is where we have to make our chances count, in essence they will fancy this one, they will have marked this down as one of the games where they can get three points .
They will look at our away record and feel that we are one of the poorer sides on the road and this is one where they will be pumped up with the crowd behind them to try and get points on the board and like Huddersfield two seasons ago use their good start to be the foundation to keep them up.
This is where some luck comes in, two seasons ago we travelled to Huddersfield in the 3rd game of the season, they had won their opening two fixtures and won them well, 3-0 at Crystal Palace and 1-0 at home to Newcastle, this was a bad time to play them, however we dug in and got a 0-0 draw and after drawing the sting out of them should really have won it squandering a couple of good late chances.
This is what we have to do on Saturday, not squander late chances, but draw the sting and then take them.
A win for us would make our start to the season decent and be a good build up for the forthcoming games against Bournemouth and Pompey, but in doing so we would also burst the Blades bubble.
Saints task is to make sure we do not have a season like the last two, the first where we started well but slowly sunk before a late revival and the atrocious form of Swansea kept us up and last term where we started ok before again sinking before Ralph arrived and turned things round.
We need to make sure we get that solid start so we stay out of relegation trouble and can build a foundation for the rest of the season.
We know things aren't completely in place yet, we need an experienced central defender or more importantly he needs to be a leader, till we get him we will struggle at times, but we can win as many as we lose and that is what we have to concentrate on, getting points on the board and getting to January out of trouble and then we can consider bringing in someone.
Last season cost us dearly in the first half because of our failure to beat the clubs who eventually finished around us, drawing at home to both Palace & Burnley, but perhaps more costly losing to both Fulham & Cardiff away, two games in which we conceded four goals, all defensive mistakes and should have taken 4 points from if not all 6.
So we can go to Bramall Lane with confidence that we have a side good enough to take the points, 3 points would be ideal, a point would be ok, but defeat would be a disaster in that it would set the alarm bells ringing and social media jangling.
This is a time for unity and all working to get behind what Ralph Hasenhuttl is trying to do, defeat would be a disaster off the pitch but not on it, the last three years have seen a toxic air around the fanbase, the arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl has changed that to a degree, but everything bad cannot be changed overnight.
Sheffield United is a big game for Saints in that winning would not only make the Premier League table look a lot better but it would be another step in bringing the supporters morale up and making watching Saints a true pleasure again instead of awful in a toxic atmosphere.
Photo: Action Images
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