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Same Start For Saints As Last Year ! Now Is The Crucial Point.
Monday, 19th Oct 2020 11:45

Saints fans are pleased with our solid start to the season after a couple of early defeats, but we should all note that at this stage last year we had the same points total, it is all about what happens next !

After 5 games last season we sat on 7 points as we do now, a look back shows tat the results show a very similar pattern as this season, two straight defeats, one a rout and then two wins and a draw.

It all changed in the 6th game when despite 65% possession against Bournemouth at St Mary's and 17 shots compared to their 4, we lost 3-1, the Cherries scoring with 3 of their 4 shots and the only 3 they got on target, catching us on the break.

That led to a run of results that was a low point not just of last season, but to be blunt any season I have seen in my near half a century of watching Saints.

The Bournemouth game was the start of an 8 game run in the Premier League that saw us lose 6 and gain only 2 points, it saw us concede 25 goals including the infamous 9 goal drubbing against Leicester, in all honesty if we had lost only 1-0 to the Foxes, 16 goals conceded in 8 games is still far too many at an average of 2 per game, a stat that if achieved over the course of a season would have made us the worst defence in the Premier League even without those 9 goals.

A look back at our worst season in recent times 2017/18 when we went to the last day shows that amazingly under Mauricio Pellegrino we had a better start than these two seasons, only 1 defeat in the opening 5 games and two wins and two draws saw us on 8 points.

This shows that we need to avoid the complacency as perhaps happened last season, so far the pattern has been similar, a good end to the season before, followed by a solid start albeit with warning signs.

Now is the point where we need to break the mould, we need to go out and have a run of games that sees us firmly in the middle of the table come December, that 8 game run cost us dearly last season, but not as we thought it might on that horrible Friday night of 25th October, it actually cost us a top 10 finish and that fact is remarkable in itself.

Three more points to give us 5 from 8 would still have been worse than relegation form at the time, but those 4 points would have seen us end the season in 9th, if we had just got one more draw out of the first 7 of that run and ended the 8th game by hanging on at Arsenal instead of a soft 95th minute equaliser conceded then we would have leapfrogged the Gunners into 8th.

Now I know that is now all in the past, but what it does illustrate is that take that awful run of a year ago out of it and we were a decent side, albeit one that kept conceding stupid late goals from individual errors, that extra draw should have come at Man City until the keeper flapped at a cross in the final minutes.

So a look back at last season shows us the warning signs and as I keep banging on we still haven't heeded them, but it also shows us what we can achieve, we are a better all round team and indeed squad than we were a year ago, there is no reason why we should not repeat and indeed go one better than last season and end this one in the top 10.

In truth it should be higher, in midfield and going forward we are a top 8 side, defensively we are Championship.

But if we are to do all this as I have just illustrated, we need to get a good return from the next 8 games, there are some toughies, Man Utd at home and Arsenal away, but there are also some very winnable games, if we have aspirations of a top 10 finish then we have to look to games like Everton, Wolves and Sheffield United at home as well as Newcastle, Aston Villa and Brighton away.

These are the six games that will decide where we finish in the table come the end of the season, at the top end we have Everton who will be looking for a top six finish themselves and at the bottom Brighton who will be happy to match their 15th spot and 41 points.

If we can get through these six games with a good points return on the board, 10 points or more out of the 18, then we will be well set up for the second half of the season, less than a point a game and we will be looking over our shoulders.

The game against Everton this weekend will be a key marker, they have had a good start, but they showed flaws against Liverpool at the weekend and we can exploit them.

We have done some good work since the start of the season, both on and off the pitch, it will count for nothing if we dont continue it on now !

Photo: Action Images

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SanMarco added 12:03 - Oct 19
For me the positive sign is that our defence is no worse than the pre-lockdown part of last season and we are looking good going forward. That 1-3 vs the Cherries was down to poor defending but also to failures at the other end. My, maybe over optimistic, view is that this season we would be slightly less likely to let in the three and more likely to get more than one. I seem to remember Ralph's dodgy tactics in that B'mouth game too!! That is always a wild card...

Ali_Diarea added 13:43 - Oct 19
Our defence is better than championship standard. Bertrand and Walker-Peters are solid players. McCarthy regularly makes decent saves. We have four centre backs, at least one of which would do a job with a better player alongside him.

It’s getting so tedious reading about our defence, be positive. The way we play invites extra pressure on our defence, it’s not a surprise when world class strikers like Werner and Son get past them.

Enjoy the entertainment or direct your fury at the board for not finding 50 million to buy an experienced leader who is also a great defender, fast and good in the air.

Waylander added 14:52 - Oct 19
Why are you thinking that Everton at home is going to be more winnable thatn Man Utd at home?

arthurfane added 17:15 - Oct 19
Earliest I've ever seen reference to a 'season defining' 6 games haha.

underweststand added 18:16 - Oct 19
Good start? , Bad start? ...depends on who you get to play in the first 6-8 games.
Last season we played 5 of the top 6 ...in the first 8 games - and it showed.

For many years pas , I've told myself not to take a serious look at the table until we reach that point in time. If you want to gauge the success this season - take a closer look after the next two games...and in November we've got a much-improved Newcastle, Wolves away and Man Utd. ..if we've got 15 points by December 1st..I'd say it was fairly good.

Peterx added 09:00 - Oct 20
I'm quietly confident going into Everton at home without Richarlison and possibly Coleman. Although this fixture was to me our low point last season in terms of how we played. Key will be KWP and Armstrong stopping Digne crosses and I guess Vestegaard against Calvert Lewin. I don't think James will have lots of time on the ball against us. Also their defence is moderate with a dodgy keeper. Allan also looks to me to have a short fuse. Lets get him in the book early.

erick added 10:11 - Oct 21
Our defence needs to learn that's it but I think we are a good side, defensively I cannot complain for me the wings need to create more chances for our forwards. Vestergaard is solid, kwp attacking prowess is showing and defensively he is learning, Bertrand is solid, Stephens needs to learn one on one defending, bednarek needs to stop been naive(he should bully opponents attackers don't give them time, create fouls away from the box to create time for the team to fall back) our weakest link is the left wing, (Redmond, Djenepo non can really claim that position)

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