|Southampton 1 v 3 Liverpool|
Barclays Premier League
Friday, 5th April 2019 Kick-off 20:00
Saints V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Preview
Friday, 12th Apr 2019 15:03
This game is suddenly gone up a few notches in the interest stakes with the news that Saints Chairman Ralph Krueger has left the club, but in essence it is business as usual.
Ralph Krueger's departure has put increased scrutiny on this game but the reality is that not a lot has changed, some may have you believe otherwise but in his five year stay Krueger did not make one appearance for Saints, he was not responsible for defensive errors, missed chances, staying rooted to his line or giving away silly penalties, so truth is on the pitch nothing has changed.
The big question though is how much have Wolves been affected by losing an FA Cup semi final, will this deflate them or inspire them, they come into this game as the team most likely to finish 7th sitting in 8th spot but with a game in hand over Leicester who are ahead of them by only goal difference on 47 points but have played a game more.
That means they still have a lot to play for and should Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final 7th will mean the Europa League.
However they are one of four teams all within a point of each other who also harbour hopes of 7th so it is far from certain that they will hit that position and could just as easily finish 10th.
The FA Cup run has probably affected their form, their last 12 matches has seen them get 18 points coincidentally enough exactly the same number we have secured in the same period, so from this viewpoint we have nothing to fear, indeed over the whole season they have been patchy to say the least, what they have done though is been able to win games in bursts and that has been the difference between them sitting in 8th now and Palace in 12th only 9 points behind them.
The good news is that their league position is based very much on their home form rather than their away, on the road they have won 5 times, drawn 5 and lost 6, their 16 goals for is nothing to write home about, but their 19 against shows them to be a tough nut to crack only Liverpool & Man City have conceded less.
But since beating Spurs at Wembley back in December they have won only once on their travels, that a 3-1 win at Everton, apart from that defeats at both Burnley & Huddersfield give us hope as well as draw at Bournemouth, indeed that topsy turvey form was exemplified by the fact that only days before beating Spurs they could only manager a draw at Fulham.
So from these perspectives we have nothing to fear and can go into this game with not only confidence, but knowing it is just about the toughest fixture we have left at home or indeed at all.
I dont expect too much change from the side that did so well against Liverpool despite defeat, the one definite switch though being bringing back Danny Ings.
Although on paper a straight swap for Shane Long looks the most simple solution, it should be remembered that Ings formed a decent partnership with Long earlier in the season, not least in the win at Crystal Palace and Ralph Hasenhuttl could opt to play both in a more attacking line up, either reverting to a back four or removing a central midfielder probably Oriol Romeu.
This is a crucial game and indeed the start of a crucial week or so where the aim is to be mathematically clear of relegation with at least three games to go.
That means that if Cardiff were to lose their next three, something which is not beyond the realms of possibility then we would need to be on 38 points from our three games, although in truth if Cardiff were to lose and we were to get a win and a draw from our 3 games then 37 would almost certainly be good enough as the Welsh club would need something like a 20 goal plus turnaround in the final three games and as the last one is at Old Trafford that is not likely to happen.
So tomorrow is vital, we need to try and start off as we mean to go on for the final part of the season, get three points under our belts and then we are in sight of the finish line, a draw would not be a bad result but we would be limping towards our target, but better than than nothing.
Their is a change in attitude at St Mary's the departure of Ralph Krueger is not ideal from a timing point of view, but it does not affect what we are going to do on the pitch, we need to make sure that it does not change the mood of optimism and positivity that has emerged in recent weeks, Ralph is gone, hail the remaining Ralph !
Photo: Action Images
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