Southampton V Fulham The Preview
Saturday, 15th May 2021 09:02
Saints take on Fulham at St Mary's looking for a second successive win at home in a week and in doing so taking a big leap forward in terms of where they can potentially finish in the Premier League, but will Fulham be decimated after relegation being confirmed or will they play without pressure.
Saints go into the final 8 days of the strangest ever season in football history knowing that they could potentially finish as high as 12th but could be as low as 17th, some might say that it doesn't matter now and they do have a point in terms that in today's Premier League it doesn't matter if you finish 8th to 17th aside from the money.
For Saints that means that if they end up in 17th spot they will get £10 million less in prize money that ending in 12th, that is a significant amount of money in the current climate.
So beating Fulham will be a big step towards finishing in the higher end of this mini league.
After a good win over Crystal Palace last Tuesday we go into this game with confidence and it will be interesting to see what if any changes Ralph Hasenhuttl makes to the side, one change he has previously said would happen is that Alex McCarthy will return in goal for presumably another two games, this is harsh on Fraser Forster who made a significant contribution to Tuesday's win saving a penalty and making several other good saves, but both keepers seem to know what is happening and have to live with it.
In defence I would like to see Mohammed Salisu start, when he has played he has impressed me and he seems to be able to read a game a lot better than any of our central defenders since Virgil Van Dijk left, if Jan Bednarek still has his injury then it will be a no brainer, but if the Pole is fit then It will be a tough choice for the manager.
The other decision for Ralph will be whether to go bac to a back four or stay with the 3 at the back formation he employed for much of the second half against Palace.
In midfield JWP & Stuart Armstrong have formed a good partnership although I feel it has impacted on JWP's game in that he now sits a lot deeper and has a different role than he had earlier in the season, when he had Oriol Romeu holding and he could get forward more and pass the ball, some have said that Ward Prowse isn't creating as much as he did a couple of month's ago, but he is still in great form, he is just in a different role.
Out wide Ralph has a plethora of options, the unpopular choice is Nathan Redmond, but the truth is although Redmond hasn't been great in some games he has still been more consistent than any of the other options Ralph has this weekend so I expect him to stay in.
On the other side it is more difficult, Minamino is a clever player and although he faded a little at the end of the win over Palace, he had a good game, but the dilemma for Ralph is that it is unlikely that Minamino will be here next season, so does he stay with the loanee or concentrate on giving game time to those who will.
Up front the partnership between Danny Ings and Che Adams flourished again on Tuesday, Ings get the headlines, but Che Adams is a very competent Premier League striker.
Adams has 8 goals this season and although that doesn't sound much, there are few players who have scored more than than number , only 16 players have got into double figures this season and when you take into account that players like Sadio Mane are only a goal ahead on 9.
Adams is also high up in the assists table as well, Adams has 5 only one behind team mate JWP and again only 14 players in the Premier League have achieved more.
When you consider than the bulk of those ahead of him in both tables are from the so called Big Six clubs, then that puts his achievement into perspective, Che Adams is still finding his feet, but he is a vital member of our attack and is a lot better than some would give him credit for.
Fulham arrive after having their relegation confirmed in the last week and the question is whether they will be down in the dumps or will they like some relegated sides, with the pressure off play with with a flourish that has been lacking.
They will be without Mario Lemina though as he unable to play against his parent club, also likely to be missing is former Saint Harrison Reed who has been out for the last three weeks with a knee injury.
Fulham's form of late has been a little confusing in that the perception is they are suffering from a poor start to the season, but are now in good form and will be unlucky to go down, that is wrong since they beat Liverpool at Anfield on 7th March they have played 7 games and lost all but one of them, the exception being a 1-1 draw at Arsenal.
If Saints can beat them today then the probability is that we will finish the season having been mathematically safe since early March.
It won't be an easy game though Fulham are a well disciplined side, they don't score many, but then again they don't concede a lot either, Saints will have to be tight at the back and not let in soft goals as they have done too many times since the turn of the year.
So a big step for Saints today and if they take it then it will be a big boost towards beefing up the transfer kitty for next season.
Photo: Action Images
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