|Southampton 2 v 2 Brighton and Hove Albion|
Barclays Premier League
Monday, 17th September 2018 Kick-off 20:00
Saints V Brighton The Preview
Sunday, 16th Sep 2018 11:00
Saints beat the Seagulls a few weeks ago in the Carabao Cup down in sunny Sussex, now they need to do it in front of the St Mary's faithful.
Mark Hughes needs to win this game for more than one reason, of course we need the points that will take us to the verge of the top ten, but we also need to win in front of our own fans and show that the confidence is returning.
I have said before that the issues of last season have been rectified, we have a positive manager in charge, an in form keeper, a dominant centre half and more importantly a striker who can score goals, with all those issues done and dealt with we only lack one thing and that is confidence.
We will only get that by winning games and we need to do that at St Mary's a lot more regularly than we did last season.
We all have to put the debacle that unfolded behind us, we need positive vibes in the stands and in turn that can create a positive atmosphere for the team to win and win well.
Mark Hughes has a couple of injury doubts, but such is the strength in depth that it shouldn't be a problem.
Shane Long would be the biggest loss, he offers us things that are not always noticed by the supporters, the ability to hold up the ball, lay it off and create space for others was in evidence at Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago and it was no co incidence that the pattern of the game changed when he had to go off injured.
Hughes is starting to get the blueprint of how he wants to play and who he sees as the key players, he has bedded them in and now needs to get them playing as they have done in the last couple of games.
That means getting them motivated to get the ball forward quickly and play without fear, under Claude Puel & Mauricio Pellegrino we were over coached, the players were scared to get the ball forward they were scared to try to play decisive killer balls, it was all about keeping possession and Hughes biggest problem is having to change the mentality in the squad and that is not something that you can do overnight.
I don't expect Hughes starting XI to be much different from the one that started against Palace injuries aside, that had a good strong back four who are starting to get used to each other and gel, a solid midfield and good outlets both wide and up front.
Its a good solid backbone with options, it just needs Mark Hughes to put into action all he has spoken about including the need to be more positive.
So this game is crucial, Hughes needs to start getting the fans on side and behind the team, already it is looking to be the lowest Premier League crowd at St Mary's in many years, bizarrely that could work in our favour, as Hughes has to get back to basics perhaps the crowd does too, the team needs the fans behind it, it seems like the most vocal in criticising are staying away on Monday evening, it might be an advantage.
Lawrie McMenemy always said that the difference between Newcastle & Southampton was here the crowd is initially more subdued, the team has to give something to the crowd and then the fans will respond.
Perhaps this is a time when the crowd need to show the team that they still have faith, if both can perform then we can win this game and move forwards, then perhaps the doubters will start to realise that the club is not in as much chaos as some would have you believe and that one bad season has been ridden and we have come through the other side.
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