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Can Saints Regain The Top Spot This Weekend ?
Tuesday, 17th Nov 2020 10:22

Two weeks ago we were excited to find out whether we could firstly make the top of the Premier League and secondly whether we could stay there for the International break, sadly we couldn't achieve the latter, but could we jump back to the top spot this weekend, here we take a look at the weekend's fixtures and the chances of doing so.

A fortnight ago Saints played first and grasped the chance to go top with both hands, but it meant that we then had to sit back and wait to see how long we would stay there, the answer as we know was 40 hours, but that in itself was some achievement and should not be looked down on.

But this week as the Premier League re starts after the International break it is the other way round for Saints, we are the last fixture of the weekend, that will make it all the harder to regain the top spot, but if we do we will stay there for the week.

So lets take a look at the table and the other fixtures that will affect our league position.

1 Leicester 8 2 0 2 5 6 4 0 0 13 3 +9 18
2 Tottenham 8 1 2 1 6 6 4 0 0 13 3 +10 17
3 Liverpool 8 4 0 0 11 6 1 2 1 7 10 +2 17
4 Saints 8 3 0 1 8 5 2 1 1 8 7 +4 16
5 Chelsea 8 2 1 1 11 6 2 2 0 9 4 +10 15
6 Aston Villa 7 2 0 2 11 9 3 0 0 7 0 +9 15
7 Everton 8 2 1 1 12 9 2 0 2 4 5 +2 13
8 Crystal Pal 8 2 1 1 7 4 2 0 2 5 8 0 13
9 Wolves 8 2 1 1 5 4 2 0 2 3 5 -1 13
10 Man City 7 1 1 1 4 6 2 2 0 6 3 +1 12

The first thing to note is that we could end this weekend anywhere between top and 9th place, something that shows how condensed the Premier League is this season.

The first fixtures are being played on Saturday, first up is the lunchtime kick off between Newcastle & Chelsea, even a point for Chelsea will send them above us on goal difference at least initially, first thought is a win for Newcastle would be best and although I would not be unhappy with that, it would bring the Toon Army within 2 points of us, so perhaps a draw would not be a bad result in the overall picture, it would at least mean that a point at Wolves would see us back above Chelsea.

Next up is the 3pm kick off Aston Villa V Brighton, again a draw in this game would send Villa above us on goal difference so we want at least that from the game, but Brighton are way behind us and so a win for the Seagulls would be the best result for us without question especially as Villa still have a game in hand.

At 5.30pm it's a big game, Tottenham Hotspur V Manchester City, if Spurs were to win this would be end in our chances of going top before we had settled down for the evening, therefore even a draw would leave us needing to beat Wolves, but a Manchester City win would mean they were only a point behind us and after the weekend still a game in hand.

The final fixture of the day see's Manchester United V West Bromwich Albion, an easy ask on this one, it goes against the grain for me to even hope that the Red Devils get a draw let alone a win, so this one is easy, especially since a United win would take them to within 3 points of us on Saturday evening with a game in hand.

Sunday starts with Fulham V Everton, another easy choice in this one anything but an Everton win, if they do that by two clear goals then they go above us on goal difference.

Sheffield United V West Ham won't affect us too much, at least not this weekend, but a Hammers win would see them getting up a head of steam behind us, so a draw or a win for the Blades will suit us just fine.

Leeds United V Arsenal is another game that won't affect us this weekend, but might to in the next few weeks, if the Gunners won they would be just a point behind us and if Leeds won they would be only 3 points adrift, again a draw would perhaps be best for us.

The final game on Sunday though brings bad news for Saints fans, it is Liverpool V Leicester City and whatever the result here it will probably mean that Saints could not overhaul both of them.

Leicester lead the table as it stands at the moment, so if they were to win they would be on 21 points, if Liverpool won then they would be on 20 points, either total would be out of reach for Saints who can at best only total 19 if we win at Molyneaux, so a positive result for either club would mean no top spot for Saints this weekend.

But even a draw would make it virtually impossible for us to make the summit, a win for us the following day would take us above Liverpool who would be on 18th, but Leicester would be on 19 and would be 5 better than us in the goal difference, this means we would have to beat Wolves by 5 clear goals and then we would be overhaul the Foxes on goals scored.

We have had a couple of wins where we have slaughtered the Wolves in their own lair, notably in season 2006/07 when we won 6-0 courtesy of a Marek Saganowski hat trick, even back in 1976/77 when we beat them 6-2 away, but even that nor our April 2004 4-1 win when Claus Lundekvam scored his first ever goal for the club would not be enough to send us top this weekend.

So a draw in this match would perhaps be the best result in that it keeps both clubs in our sights, but truth is we need a minor miracle to go top.

Kicking off 30 minutes ahead of us on Monday Burnley V Crystal Palace is another game where a draw would not be a disaster, it would still leave the Eagles two points adrift of us, but a Burnley win would make it a little more comfortable, Palace need to overturn a 4 goal deficit in goal difference if they are to overtake us, this is not as hard as it sounds if we lose at Wolves we cannot afford to do so by a big margin, if we do it would see them leapfrog above us on goal difference as they start the day 3 points behind and with a 5 goal difference deficit, to put it plainly they need to beat us by 3 clear goals to jump above us.

So sadly the chances of Saints going top rest on a draw at Anfield and Spurs failing to win against Man City plus a 5 goal win at Wolves for us, I am not a betting man so I am not sure of the odds on this, but I suspect that they would be very good.

The reality is we will do well to hold on to 4th place, a draw may be enough to do that a win of course will ensure it, but the likelihood is we will finish anywhere between 4th & 8th.

As the weekend's fixtures play out the position will become a lot clearer, it is going to be an exciting few days, let us hope we are as happy as we were a couple of weeks ago.

Photo: Action Images

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MRHALL93 added 11:42 - Nov 17
I'd take a draw. Wolves are a very good team. I don't think we'll dominate the match for 90 minutes as we did against Newcastle and Everton.

But I am very excited about what we could achieve this season. I don't think this recent run of results are a fluke, that will see us drop off a cliff as soon as we have a bad game. Look at this year, I think we've had the 3rd most wins in the PL and since lockdown, I think only Man City have picked up more points.

Overall, I'd be ecstatic if we can pick up more points across the entire season than we did when Koeman was in charge. As you mentioned it is very close this season, but we've already played 5 of the current top 8.

SaintPaulVW added 16:55 - Nov 17
All Saints can really aim for is to play well enough to beat Wolves.

Sports psychologists make millions out of training sportspeople to concentrate on maintaining the level of performance and not get distracted by thinking too much about the end result. I hope our players with this flush of early success don't fall into that trap.


SanMarco added 00:01 - Nov 18
So the answer to the question posed in the title is no.

A draw would be a good result - especially with our actual and possible injuries. Having said that it is a 'winnable' game - Wolves are good but not so good that us winning would be an enormous surprise...

underweststand added 06:35 - Nov 18
In the past we've complained about the "curse of the international breaks", but we can hope that our recent fine form continues in the forthcoming games.
This season very few teams are performing anywhere near level they had pre-Covid, and Saints are now playing some of their best football... perhaps since the Koeman era.
Faced with the likes of Wolves away and then Man Utd. it'll be a good chance to see if we really have turned the corner and are beginning to look like a top-end side .

It'll take a series of freak results for us to end up in first place again after this round of fixtures, but even remaining in the Top Four would make the table very good to look at.

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