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Leeds United Game Crucial To Southampton Final Premier League Position
Monday, 17th May 2021 10:24

As we enter the final week of the strangest Football season ever and the last two games beginning with the visit of Leeds United to St Mary's, we take a look at how crucial a win over the Yorkshire side could be with Saints currently able to finish anywhere between 17th & 12th.

Sky Sports are looking at a nightmare last day of the season, usually there is tension somewhere, the Premier League title is up for grabs and if that is not the case as is more often than not they can focus on the relegation dogfight.

Both of these contests have already been decided and Sky now have to look to the Champions League places, they breathed a sigh of relief when Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson scored a last minute winner over West Brom in that it meant that those places have to go to the final day with two out of Liverpool, Chelsea & Leicester vying for 3rd & 4th place. Tottenham & West Ham could theoretically be involved on the final day, but unlikely.

Here Liverpool could do us a big favour, their final two games are away to Burnley and home to Crystal Palace, Saints fans might wish for Liverpool to miss out in the Champions League, but two wins for them would boost Saints hopes of 13th place.

But first we have to do our own job and that starts with the game against Leeds United at St Mary's on Tuesday evening. Saints start the week in 14th place, 4 points ahead of Burnley & Newcastle with Brighton 5 points behind.

Beating Leeds will mean that 13th place is secured and with a tough game at West Ham to end up we need to get our business done early.

Then we can look above us and Palace play their penultimate game at home to Arsenal on Wednesday, a point for us would be enough to leapfrog the Eagles again on goal difference and if they lost to Liverpool on the final day enough to keep us above them in the final table as long as we didn't lose by 6 goals more than them.

But we still have to look over our shoulders at the chasing trio of clubs, Brighton play Manchester City at home on Tuesday and anything other than a win would see them unable to catch us.

On Wednesday Newcastle are at home to Sheffield United which looks a home banker, but the Blades won at Everton yesterday, however two away wins in a row in the space of 4 days is unlikely for the long relegated side.

Burnley as I have said face Liverpool and the Merseyside club winning would leave them unable to catch us.

So we need to get our business done early and get three points in the bag, then we can forget the chasing pack and concentrate on 13th place and even 12th, Wolves occupy that spot at present, a win at St Mary's would also take us above them by a point before they play at Everton on Wednesday, after that they are at home to Manchester United on the final day.

So 11th place is a distinct possibility, we have the advantage that we are back in form with two straight wins, but can we win another two to end the season with a flourish as we did in 2016 to come in on the rails beating Crystal Palace to finish 6th five years ago today ?

The answer is that it is a possibility and that could potentially draw us level with Aston Villa in 11th, but don't get carried away, we would have to turn around a 23 goal difference , that surely is an impossibility.

But it does highlight how this season has been and the tight margins, if we had won just one other game during our awful run and that game was Aston Villa and we all remember the injustices in that game, we would now be level with them on 46 points.

But these are only the theoretical what if's, we now need to do the business, we have a tough final couple of games, but in truth they are against sides who are no better than us, but they have had the rub of the green at times and have not had as much bad luck as ourselves.

But the sides around us have tough games as well, so it's likely to be the most competitive part of the Premier League on Sunday.

Why is it going to be so competitive some may ask, when Sky on Sunday talked about dead rubbers with so many things settled at the top and the bottom ?

The plain and simple answer is like everything in the Premier League these days it comes down to money , the merit money per League payment is around £2.1 million per position.

So if Saints finish 17th they will receive around £8.5 million in merit payments, if they can finish 14th then that will rise to around £15 million and if they can finish with a flourish and end in 12th then that could rise to nearly £20 million.

So Saints have around £12 million to play for going into the final two games of the season and given the financial plight of ALL clubs at present not just Saints it is money not to be sniffed at and a big chunk of the transfer budget for the summer.

So from a financial perspective all of those 6 clubs including Saints are desperate to finish as high as they can.

A win against Leeds on Tuesday evening may not sound too much in footballing terms but it will guarantee £6 million pounds !

Photo: Action Images

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Centurion added 10:47 - May 17
Good summary Nick.
Btw I think that Aston Villa defeat was the start of the wheels coming off !

underweststand added 11:02 - May 17
If you can call successive wins ..." a revival ", then it coincides with the return of our first choice players and still having one or two more experienced names on the bench. Despite their lowly position the win over Fulham was a boost for team morale after a very poor second half of the season with the worst injury crisis in almost 20 years.

Anyone who has watched Leeds this season will know that they are a hard-pressing side who won't give up before the final whistle. They have scored a lot of goals, but their main weakness is that their defensive record (goals against) is almost as bad as ours.

If we can put away some of the shots we've so blatantly wasted this season then we might well end up being one goal better off and pick up a hard-earned 3 points.
I expect a very tough match and we can hope to avoid any serious injuries before the final game v. West Ham (who will be fighting hard for a Euro place). Whereas Saints aren't in line for such honours, a couple of improved League places could bring in more bonus millions for eventual summer transfers.


JoeEgg added 11:36 - May 17
The Leeds game is very interesting not just for the £6 million but I think it will tell us a great deal about the quality of our current squad. I am a great admirer of the Leeds side and the progress that they have made recently. It will be some achievement if we can beat Leeds on Tuesday - they have some very good players and their match tactics have been superb - can Ralph show similar qualities tomorrow and out-think Leeds?

Peterx added 11:56 - May 17
Yip I think Leeds at home is a great test for us. Also we owe them a proper thumping for that pitch they put out against us and the Romeu injury that came with it.

TimSaint added 13:44 - May 17
The players owe us a performance tomorrow in front of the fans, for the complete and utter capitulation in the 2nd half of the game at Elland Road. Looking at the way they attacked Burnley at the weekend, with power, pace and directness, I thought to myself, our wide players could certainly benefit from adopting some of their methods. With some fans present, I am somewhat optimistic !!

As for getting anything from the last game away to West Ham, I suspect we will get the same performance of the last 2 seasons - losing and conceding 3 goals - rather than the one before that where we won and scored 3.


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