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Southampton 1 v 2 Brighton and Hove Albion
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 14th March 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Brighton The Preview
Sunday, 14th Mar 2021 10:14

The first of two crucial games comes up today when Brighton visit St Mary's, the Seagulls need to pull themselves clear of the relegation pack, whilst Saints if the take all three points will be on the cusp of the safety line with 9 games to go.

The pattern since Brighton joined the Premier League has been set, the previous 3 games at St Mary's have all been drawn, the last 3 Premier League visits to the Amex Stadium have all been won, although the first trip ended all square.

Today at St Mary's both sides would like to see this pattern ended, although Saints can afford a draw a lot more than Brighton who are now only out of the bottom 3 on goal difference.

Saints task is simple, get three points and not only put lingering relegation fears to bed, but also start to make ground up on those above us.

Ralph Hasenhuttl showed that he is focused on this in midweek when he prioritised having as many of his squad fit as possible by resting several players at Manchester City, now his team have to justify those actions by winning this game and indeed the FA Cup tie at Bournemouth next week.

So there looks to be several changes made from the trip to the Etihad, firstly I would expect to see Fraser Forster back in goal, at the back Kyle Walker Peters to return at right back with Ryan Bertrand going back to the right hand side, Jan Bednarek & Jannik Vestergaard in the centre.

In midfield Ibrahima Diallo should partner James Ward Prowse in the centre with Stuart Armstrong out wide.

That leaves three positions up for grabs, Che Adams will take one of them and then it is a case of who partners him and who takes the other wide spot.

Takumi Minamino will surely take one of those spots but whether he will partner Adams up front or be further back is the main question, Nathan Tella will likely get the nod for the final starting place.

This is the team that played the bulk of the game against Sheffield United and will hopefully do the job again against the Seagulls.

The only other question is whether Moussa Djenepo will be fit, I feel even if he is he will be on the bench, from this point Ralph Hasenhuttl will feel he will have options sat behind him on that bench that haven't been there for most of that terrible run of games.

For their part Brighton are on a bad run themselves, at the start of February after they had beaten Liverpool at Anfield, they looked to have pulled clear of relegation, but two draws followed by three straight defeats have seen them plunge back into trouble.

But each of those losses have only been by a single goal, two of them in the dying minutes of the game, Brighton don't concede many, but their real problem is scoring goals, indeed in their last 15 Premier League games none have been decided by more than a single goal either way.

So it looks to be a tight game this afternoon and Saints have to make sure that they are the team that is ahead at the end of the game.

But the Seagulls will fight tooth and nail, they know that defeat will see them on the slide whereas a win will drag them above Newcastle and give them impetus.

With 10 games to go we are starting to get to the part where teams either pull clear of relegation or sink into it and for Brighton today will go a long way towards showing what the final weeks will bring for them..

So a big week is starting for both Saints and Brighton, from our perspective it is to stay in the running for perhaps our greatest ever season and as I have said elsewhere this is one of the few seasons in our history we have been able to say that in March.

Photo: Action Images

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