|Southampton 3 v 1 Birmingham City|
Saturday, 28th October 2023 Kick-off 12:30
Southampton V Birmingham The Preview
Friday, 27th Oct 2023 10:03
Wayne Rooney played at St Mary's for both Everton & Manchester united, now he returns for the first time as a manager, he is already under fire from the fans after only two games, can Saints heap more misery on him.
Wayne Rooney was brought into St Andrews to change the style that they club were playing, he arrived with the club in 6th place and two games and two defeats later they are now in 12th, however such is the compact nature of this division, if he were to lead the Blues to victory they would jump above Saints in the table on goal difference.
So our job is simple, turn the travelling Blues fans against their manager and ensure that the boos again ring out for Rooney at St Mary's as they did for his teams performances in their defeat to Hull in midweek.
But the question for Southampton supporters is what side will Russell Martin put out ?
There are injury issues and they are being kept close to the chest by the manager, after the departure of Che Charles at half time in the draw at Preston, Martin has spoken of how he and indeed Adams himself are frustrated, but he did not elaborate on the injury sustained or the severity, so the answer to that question may not be answered and then only partially at 11.30 am on Saturday morning when the team is announced.
Also missing on Wednesday was Taylor Harwood-Bellis, he was doubtful at Hull with a hamstring issue, although he managed the full game he was missing at Deepdale, this was perhaps understanding, hamstrings are funny things and it is likely that two games in the space of a few games was a risk not worth taking in case it aggravated the condition and led to a much longer spell in the treatment room.
If Adams is out then Russell Martin has to consider his options, the first could be recalling Alex McCarthy in goal and playing Gavin Bazunu as a centre forward, don't laugh I have seen stranger team selections this season !
On a serious note though or at least I hope, the question is who will play in front of Bazunu in defence.
If Harwood- Bellis is fit i expect him back in the centre of defence, if he isn't then the only change I would expect is the return of Ryan Manning at left back.
That won't be popular with some, but the truth is we did miss him at Preston and especially in the last 30 minutes when we created far less chances than we have done when he was in the side.
Like it or not he is the best option we have there at least until Juan Larios is fit and that is likely to be in January.
If Harwood-Bellis does not pass muster than I would have no problem with Mason Holgate continuing, he has suffered a terrible start to his Saints career and perhaps some won't let him forget that, but at Preston he was ok and we should remember how little football he has played in the last 18 months or so.
Selecting the defence should be relatively easy compared to the rest of the team and in midfield and up front Martin has some real questions posed.
Ideally Adam Armstrong should be played as the central striker, but the reality is that he has also been vital as a wide man who works hard to get back and help out the full backs, we play a narrow game in midfield which means that our wide men up front have to help out, but defensive duties are not high on either Kamaldeen Sulemana or Charly Alcatraz's skill sets.
Sam Edozie is learning fast about his duties and he chased back Potts for Preston's second, however he is still raw and didn't quite get goal side of the man, I don't blame him for this, he was left exposed by those behind and around him.
So first up the midfield trio, does he stick with Downes and Smallbone as a duo and bring in Stuart Armstrong as the third man or does he bring in Shea Charles.
Up front Adam Armstrong is a given, I would like to see him played down the middle, but who plays alongside him, we are spoiled for choice , Sulemana, Alcatraz, Edozie, Fraser, even Mara, I can't make up my mind although I would like to see Fraser given a start, he has the experience to attack and defend and that will solve the problem on one side for Martin.
But there is only one thing that matters in this performance and that is getting all three points, as I said in an article yesterday How many points do Saints Need to get to the play offs we need around 75 points, that's an average of about 1.63 per game, we start against Birmingham with 21 points from 13 games, just a shade under that ratio.
This is our task for the next few months, just keep grinding out results and points and keeping above that average, if we do that then the play offs are our first target, then we can look at the top two.
If we beat Birmingham and beat them well then that will show that we do mean business, although after coming through that 4 game losing streak and turning it into a 5 game unbeaten run that places us into the play off positions is perhaps evidence that we are already doing just that.
Photo: Action Images
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Blogs 31 bloggers
Knees-up Mother Brown #14 by wessex_exile
The blog returns with KMB14, after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.
Knees-up Mother Brown #13 by wessex_exile
KMB13, and this weekend I’m sure we will all, in our own way, pause to remember the fallen. With war again raging in Europe, and the Middle East aflame, I’m sadly reminded of the lyrics of Eric Bogle.
Knees-up Mother Brown #12 by wessex_exile
It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in Matches of Yesteryear #20, and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.
Knees-up Mother Brown #11 by wessex_exile
Well, following the U’s has been a bit of a rollercoaster through the last week. Ben Garner’s U’s slumped to a very poor home defeat last Saturday against Harrogate Town, despite taking the lead with a sublime strike from Chay Cooper. Robbie had seen enough, and that evening Ben was let go, with U21 lead coach Matty Etherington announced as the interim Head Coach on Monday. On Tuesday night, Matty Etherington’s U’s put in one hell of a shift, to come away from Grimsby (Cleethorpes – ed.) with all three points and a masterclass from Arthur Read – happy days, could Matty be our man? Well, not right now that’s for sure, after a call to Robbie from Crawley Town yesterday letting him know that apparently Matty is tied up in a contract exit clause from his brief spell at Crawley, seemingly forbidding him from operating in a head coach/ manager role until May 2024 (when his Crawley contract would have expired). So, Matty Etherington is stood down, with Assistant Head Coach Scott Marshall stepping up as our new interim Head Coach for the tough trip to Accrington Stanley.
Knees-up Mother Brown #10 by wessex_exile
Back again, after another U’s-induced matchday ‘experience’ at FGR, and what an experience it was. What was already a poor match between two poor sides descended into insanity after the red card for Mingi, with the U’s dismantled repeatedly to let four second half goals in. I hardly ever leave a game before the final whistle, but as the board went up for nine more minutes I’d seen enough and me and Alfie headed out for our lift home (and as a result, missed the frank exchange of views between players and supporters at the end). However, let’s focus on the positives, whatever was said, a much changed U’s were a different team on Tuesday at League 1 Cambridge. The U’s thoroughly deserved the win and their Pizza Slice Trophy three points, thanks in no small part to an excellent performance from Chay Cooper.
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