Season Changing Weekend For Southampton
Friday, 5th Mar 2021 08:55
The dreadful run of defeats means that Saints go into this weekend knowing that depending on how results go both at Bramall Lane and elsewhere, this could truly be a weekend that determines whether we will be looking over our shoulders or upwards at glory.
When Saints beat Liverpool two months ago, there wasn't a Saints supporter alive who would have envisaged what the next 9 games in the Premier League would hold, a combination of a horrific injury list and poor decisions and bad luck leaving us virtually static in the points totals.
But things in football can change fast and the important thing is to keep sight of the long term goal, shame on those who have taken to social media to demand that Ralph Hasenhuttl be sacked without any thought of just who would replace him, I'm sure he would love a plan B sometimes, but you have to have the players to implement it rather than just having to throw a few kids on in the hope they work out.
But it cannot be denied that we now sit at a crossroads for the season and this weekend more than any other will define the path the final few months will take.
It can be the start of the revival, beat Sheffield United and we are within sight of the safety mark in the Premier League and with a very winnable FA Cup quarter final against Bournemouth looming, it still has the potential to be the greatest season in the club's history and there aren't many times that can be said to be the case at this stage.
But it could also leave us looking over our shoulders, we have a great chance to beat the Blades and pull out of trouble, but if we don't do that we are looking over our shoulders.
Last night saw some relief in that respect with Fulham losing at home to Tottenham Hotspur and in truth we need a few results in our favour this weekend if we are to dispel the doom and gloom and start to move forward again.
The first game tomorrow could bring us some respite, Burnley tackle Arsenal at Turf Moor, a draw would bring them level on points with us, a win leapfrog them above us, first thoughts would be an Arsenal win, but that would take the Gunners who start the day in 10th to 40 points and that would be a big gap to catch up, if we still harbour hopes of a late run.
I don't think Burnley will ultimately get in relegation struggle so I would prefer a draw, but failing that a Burnley win would suit us better.
The 5.30pm game is Aston Villa V Wolves, again a draw would be best in that one.
The first crucial game in regard to the relegation battle is on at 8pm, Brighton take on Leicester City, if it goes to form then Leicester will take all three points and at worst a draw, but Brighton have battles of late and they know they need the three points, if they get them they are only a point behind us.
Sunday brings the two crucial games at the bottom, it will take a minor miracle for either Sheffield United or West Brom to drag themselves out of the bottom three by the end of the season and this weekend is probably last chance saloon for both, if we can do our bit on Saturday then we can watch the three clubs in real danger of claiming that third from bottom spot with a little bit of relief from stress.
First game is West Bromwich Albion V Newcastle, probably a win for the Baggies would be best for us, it would leave the Toon four points behind us, possibly more depending on our result and in truth it wouldn't leave West Brom with much more chance of catching us.
Then at 2pm on Sunday comes the important one, Liverpool V Fulham, the defeat to Chelsea last night meant they had lost 5 consecutive home games at Anfield, we do not want them to make it six, hopefully they won't and will take all three points.
Final game of Sunday is Spurs V Crystal Palace, it pains me to say it but a Spurs win would be good for us, I don't think we can catch Spurs now, they are 12 points ahead of us and that would be a big ask with 12 games to go, but we can finish above Palace, so a defeat for them would be best.
Monday finishes with Chelsea V Everton, no real concern for us and then West Ham United V Leeds, again we are not going to catch West Ham, but Leeds start the weekend only 5 points above us, we could make it 2 if they lose are hammered by the Hammers and we blunt the blades.
So this weekend could end with us either looking up the table and only 4 points off the top ten and relegation fears eroding away being 10 points ahead of Fulham in the final relegation spot.
Or it could end with us looking over our shoulders with Brighton a point behind us, Newcastle a point behind us and Fulham suddenly looming in the rear view mirror and just 4 points behind.
The good news is that our injury list is getting better and should virtually be back to normal by the end of the month with only Oriol Romeu being a vital player missing for the rest of the season.
Good teams don't become bad teams overnight, with a virtual full squad we can get back on track and win that FA Cup quarter final, we are capable of a win at Bramall Lane, we just have to show the form of the second half at Everton for 90 minutes at Sheffield, ensuring at one end we cut out the errors and at the other we start putting away our chances.
Even if this weekend doesn't go well, we still have 11 games to put things right, I worry about a 4 point gap when there are 2 games to go, not 11, it might be hard at the moment to see where the next win is coming from, but when we get one we will get more and we need just 2 maybe 3 to see us safe, I would rather be in our position than Fulham's by the end of the weekend, whatever that position may be
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Letters from Wiltshire #42 by wessex_exile
Well, these sure are strange times at Colchester United, particularly for a club (nor a Chairman) not usually associated with the ‘managerial revolving door’ approach. With results not matching expectations or even minimum requirements, and a brief spell after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Wayne Brown has been released to return to the Jammers, for whenever their pandemic-interrupted football restarts. In comes not one, or two, but three new ‘appointments’. Hayden Mullins steps up as Head Coach to the end of the season, Joe Dunne apparently comes back to the U’s in a sort of unofficial coaching/ team-spirit sort of role, and exceptionally experienced lower-league former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale arrives to provide Hayden with advice and support – crikey!
Letters from Wiltshire #41 by wessex_exile
This afternoon the U’s take on Bradford City in a bid to gather sufficient points to stay clear of the bottom two. It’ll be a tough gig though, even if (as I suspect) Bradford City have left it a bit too late to challenge the play-off spots. They were on a decent run of form, that is until defeats at Newport, Carlisle, Scunthorpe and a goalless draw at home to Oldham put paid to any lingering promotion hopes. For us, it’s simple, to stay out of the bottom two, for all intents and purposes we only need to gain half (or more) of the points that Grimsby or Southend do. Sounds easy, just wish I felt more confident we will…
[ Vote here ]