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Southampton 3 v 1 Sheffield United
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 26th July 2020 Kick-off 16:00
Saints V Sheffield United The Preview
Sunday, 26th Jul 2020 09:19

A last day where there is not too much at stake for Saints, just whether they will finish 11th or 12th and of course the little matter of around £2.5 million in prize money, which in these troubled times is not to be sniffed at.

Back in the dark days of October no one could have foreseen the ending to this season, not just the fact that it would be ending around 2 1/2 months later than scheduled due to a global pandemic, but that we would not have the worry of relegation to content with and that we would also be ruing the fact that we should really have finished in the top 10.

When the promotion places in the Championship are finalised fans of all team look to the sides coming up and consider which teams would represent a good chance of all three points, with all due respect Sheffield United would probably have been one of those teams we would have looked at as a good bet and it is pleasing to see that they have done so well this season and go into this game with a guarantee of a top 10 finish.

Ironically though if Saints can beat the Blades they will achieve a notable landmark themselves, a win will see us having taken all 18 points from the three promoted sides in the Premier League for the first time ever and although that might seem a little trivial it shows how Ralph Hasenhuttl has disciplined his side to hold their nerve and get the job done, too often in the past it has been our failure to beat the sides at the bottom that has plunged us into trouble.

The current situation means that both sides will take this with a little more seriousness than normal, all clubs are suffering financial hardship with issues with cashflow and Saints can use the extra cash if they can beat the Blades and better Everton's result.

To do that and leap above them is the goal for us, but the Toffee's are in the pole position not only from the fact that they have a one goal better difference, but they are playing one of the leakiest defences in Bournemouth who have to win to stand any chance of staying up so therefore have to throw caution to the wind at the back, but Sheffield United are one of the tightest only Liverpool and Manchester City have conceded less.

That being the case , I can see us beating them, but I can't see us beating them by many.

Some Saints fans will be looking at Goodison Park and hoping that Bournemouth are buried, but that will mean they have mixed feelings, on one hand they would be pleased to see Everton with a commanding lead by half time, but truth is if that happens then we have little chance of finishing 11th and those who want the Cherries relegating might have to sweat a little if they want the double whammy of Saints finishing above Everton and Bournemouth relegated.

Ralph Hassenhuttl will put out a strong side and will be looking to finish with a flourish, he is a very focused manager and he will already know which players are in his plans for next season and which aren't, therefore I do not expect to see much change from the core side that has featured since the restart.

I would expect a fit again Jan Bednarek return after missing the Bournemouth game, but tactically the only other changes I foresee is that with Sheffield United a team that defend and make it hard for you to break them down that perhaps Will Smallbone could replace Oriol Romeu to give us a more attacking option and that Ralph will want to keep Che Adams scoring so will start him ahead of Shane Long.

This will not be an easy game, the Blades play in the way that we struggle against at St Mary's ie sitting deep and going at you on the break, this means that a one goal win or defeat is their most common result, I mentioned that with 36 goals conceded United are one of the best defences in the League, but conversely they have only scored 38, only 6 teams have scored less and of that number 3 of them have scored only 1 less.

So this will not be a pretty game and we have to make sure we don't get caught on the break, we have to play a disciplined game, if we can get ahead we have to stay focused and not let them catch us out.

But all this being said, whatever the result it will good to get the season finished and done and dusted, we have shown we have the foundations to finish in the top 10 next season, indeed as I have mentioned we really should have done so this.

We can have a great season next year with an addition or two to the squad at the back and all indications are that we are looking to get our business done early, there are things to look forward to after a difficult couple of years, it is now time to start looking forward and not keep looking back.

Photo: Action Images

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Waylander added 10:02 - Jul 26
Sheff Utd have also drawn more away games than any other PL side so a low-scoring draw looks a real possibility.

felly1 added 10:17 - Jul 26
Nice preview, as you say we are at our weakest at home to these kind of teams. This is where I wish we had the option of a big guy up front to give us a plan B.
I can't believe that anyone would want to see Everton win just to see the Cherries go down when 2 and half million quid is at stake. We are going to need that money more than ever right now.

SanMarco added 11:04 - Jul 26
The massive efforts vs the two Manchesters seemed to represent the climax of the season and the last couple have had an 'end of season' feel. I think that Waylander may well be right with a dull draw a distinct possibility. It would be nice to make the landmark of 50 points and a draw will do that. Unlike many I would prefer B'mouth to stay up so who knows maybe a point will be enough for 11th?? No, I don't think so either but here's hoping...

SaintStu7 added 11:23 - Jul 26
I really think that Bournemouth will get a result against Everton they are often really ordinary so a draw maybe enough for us today. So glad we are not a club like Everton wasting millions on getting nowhere and with no pride in developing players or seeing youth thrive. I’m never more happy when we buy players get a good few years out of them and sell them on the bigger clubs for ridiculous money. We then make space for the next generation. People offer point at all the players that have left and think that we could have a amazing team right now but don’t realise that had we not moved these players on then the next ones would have never come to the club. Looking forward to next season with the same core squad and maybe a couple of new faces that might be our next ones to watch.

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