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Everton 3 v 1 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton Step Up Their Pre Season Programme At Cardiff City
Tuesday, 27th Jul 2021 09:18

After a low key friendly against newly relegated Fulham, Saints now travel to Wales for a training camp and two friendlies with the first being this evening against Cardiff City, as they take their training schedule up to the next notch.

The game against Fulham on Saturday was a nothing fixture, with the club using two different sides and the aim was nothing more than to shake the cobwebs from the legs.

With the first few weeks of pre season under their belt where the emphasis would have been on bringing the squad's fitness levels back up to speed, now this will change and slowly change to a more football focused plan.

These days pre season is meticulously planned and the aim is to slowly but surely raise the levels so that hopefully when the opening day of the League season arrives we will be just at the right level.

If not monitored carefully there is a danger that we will peak too soon or not be quite ready, so although a good win against strongish opposition 10 days before the season starts looks good on paper, the reality is that we have got something wrong.

It is about a slow process to ensure muscles aren't over stretched and niggling injuries don't occur, that was what the Fulham game was about, games even low key friendlies have more exertion than training games, it is easy to pull muscles, start at an easy pace and up the tempo.

The problem with playing sides like Cardiff and Swansea whom we meet on Saturday, is that they are good Championship sides, but with that League starting a week earlier than the Premier League, they should be a week ahead of us in their preparation and therefore not only a little sharper, but also a notch above us in the tempo they will play the game at.

When you play a game of course this is not an exact science, there is the matter of form and you can catch teams on good or bad days as you do in the normal course of the season, but in the main at this stage the Saints coaching staff will not be looking at the score in this game as much as they will the performance data they will be amassing.

The game at the Cardiff City Stadium will evoke memories for Ralph Hasenhuttl, his first game in charge of the club was at this venue back on 8th December 2018 when with both clubs locked in a relegation battle, we went down 1-0 in a typical Saints performance with the game won in the 74th minute after a short back pass from Jannik Vestergaard left Alex McCarthy stranded and Callum Patterson fired home.

The home game at St Mary's later in the season was another disaster for Saints, The Bluebirds scored in the 69th minute with their first effort on target, but Jack Stephens scored a dramatic injury time equaliser to make it 1-1, only to turn from hero to villain a minute later when he mishit a pass that allowed Cardiff to break and score for what for most of the game had been an unlikely win.

Photo: Action Images

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