All To Play For This Weekend For Saints
Friday, 6th Dec 2019 09:58
After pulling free of the relegation zone on Wednesday night the trick now is to stay out of it and make sure we keep plenty of the other sides down there with us. We take a look at the weekend's fixtures.
A year ago after 15 games the Premier League table looked a lot worse for Saints, we had amassed only 9 points and were 3rd from bottom, it would get worse as in the 16th game we lost to Cardiff and dropped a further place.
After those 15 games we had scored 13 goals and conceded 29 with a goal difference of -16, ironically exactly the same difference as today, the difference though is we have conceded 4 more this year and let in 4 more as well.
So it perhaps shows that overall we are in better shape than a year ago the issue being that mauling against Leicester City.
A year ago Saints looked up the table to far fewer teams in potential relegation trouble, only Huddersfield, Cardiff and Crystal Palace were within 3 points of us, Newcastle were 4 points ahead and then the next side up was West Ham on 18 with Wolves on 19.
Things looked a lot grimmer then than they do this season, although at times it hasn't seemed like it.
Truth is we are now a better side than we were back then, the defence the same, but we do have better attacking options in a fit and on fire Danny Ings and Moussa Djenenpo in the fold and even Sofiane Boufal who spent last season on loan.
So on the field there are things to be positive about and if we can sign at least one central defender in January then we can like last year move up into safety.
This weekend though we have all to play for, we can reel Newcastle back in by beating them and our away record is far better than our home one, so that is a possibility although a draw is probably a better bet.
But in any battle in football whether it is at the top of the table or the bottom, although you can only do what you can do, other results do shape your season just as much.
So we will be looking at the teams around us and how they fare with just as much interest.
The fist game of the weekend is perhaps the most important, Everton host Chelsea at Goodison and even a point for the Toffee's will drop them into the bottom, Everton have lost the last three on the bounce and their only win out of the previous 5 games has been at St Mary's, Chelsea are a strange side and seem capable of great results but lose silly games you would expect them to win, their only defeat in the last 5 came at home to West Ham, a win that kept the Hammers above us. We need Chelsea to beat Everton and beat them well, if they do then they consolidate their current 4th place.
AfC Bournemouth host Liverpool, on paper this is solid Liverpool win, but the Reds have been struggling a little of late and although they have been winning games they have not been winning them convincingly.
The Cherries looked safe a few games ago, but four straight defeats has seen them drawn into the relegation battle, if they lose on Saturday they will be well and truly in it.
Burnley are only 3 points above us and they travel to Tottenham who are a little rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho, I hate to say it but Spurs won't get relegated, so we have to back them against sides who are down there with us.
Watford are at home to Crystal Palace and looking for a win that will kep them in touch with safety, if they get that then they will still be 4 points behind us before we travel up to St James Park, if they lose then they will be starting to lose touch with safety, Palace with 21 points in 7th could feasibly have a wobble in the second half of the season, but it is unlikely, so a Palace win would suit us best.
The Manchester derby has little significance to us in terms of the league table, however it could put a nail in the coffin of their former player turned manager whom I can't be bothered to look up how to spell his name and leave them languishing in mid table.
Sunday is also a crucial day, Aston Villa host the in form Leicester City, after 5 straight wins the Foxes are looking good for a top 4 finish, amazingly they are 12 points clear of Wolves in 5th, we need them to make it six and they are good enough to do that.
Norwich City are at home to Sheffield United and that is crucial for both clubs, the Canaries will be looking to win and reel us in whilst the Blades will be looking for the three points that gets them up to 22 points and probably only 4 wins away from safety when you throw in a draw or two.
So although a win either way could help Saints, a draw would probably be best as it does little for either side.
Brighton host Wolves and will feel they can win that after their result at the Emirates and if they do then they will be on 21 points and looking more at safety than at getting puled into the mire, Wolves in 5th will want to try and consolidate that position and try and reel in Chelsea in 4th, they are unbeaten in the last 5 so will feel confident of doing it.
Last game on Sunday is us, a point might not seem great, but Newcastle have won 3 out of the last 5 and lost only once, they have not been beaten at home since the opening day of the season, so will fancy this game to pull them clear of the bottom and perhaps challenge for a top 7 place, currently they are only 2 points off of that, so a draw will be a good result taking into account our recent failings there, although it perhaps won't make our league position look good.
The final game of the weekend see's West Ham host Arsenal, the Hammers are only a point above us going into this round of fixtures, by the end of it they could either be in the bottom three or conversely within a point or 3 of the top 7, so tightly packed is the division at the moment.
After the weekend we hope that it is still tightly packed, that anyone of around 10 clubs are still in relegation trouble and that we can enhance our position further.
There is a long way to go this season and we have to take it step by step, there will be set backs, perhaps this weekend will be one of them, but the next three games are vital, if we can score more points than the number of games then we will be keeping our heads above water, amazingly if we were to win all three we would be challenging for the top 7.
So all to play for this weekend for Saints and hopefully a few results will go our way as well.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #05 by wessex_exile
Matchday #3, and Robbie’s not happy. I know opinion is divided, but I have considerable sympathy with the Chairman on this one. I don’t want this to be necessarily a political comment, but many are looking on with bemusement as the government seem to lurch from one knee-jerk reaction to another during this crisis, and I would be saying this of any government, regardless of their political persuasion. The nub of Robbie’s comments is quite simple, what’s the point in having a panel of experts working closely with responsible club owners to plan supporter’s safe return to essentially open air stadia, investing in alterations, changes to layout, developing detailed procedures etc. to then have the rug pulled out from under their feet? I know why, a second wave seems to be coming, and frankly it looks like people simply can’t be trusted to follow the rules – but why then are pubs still open, or does the virus only come out after 10pm?
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Letters from Wiltshire #04 by wessex_exile
After last weeks’ solid point away against Bradford City, tipped by many to be strong promotion contenders, we now face another stern test against fallen giants Bolton Wanderers. Okay, giants may be stretching it a tad, but these guys have won the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice, and the Charity Shield and Football League (Sherpa Van) Trophy once apiece. Christ, they were in the Premier League just eight years ago. But, they are where they are for a reason, and Saturday is all about 11 v 11, literally on a level playing field…
Letters from Wiltshire #03 by wessex_exile
So here we are, the drôle de guerre is over, the real battle is about to begin. Can we take any positives from the opening exchanges so far? I think so, the style is good, albeit Noah is right that the work in the final third needs considerable improvement if we are going to capitalise on our tippy-tappy triangles in midfield. But we’ve played some decent sides, far better sides than we should expect to face in League 2, and we haven’t been beaten out of sight yet, so let’s see what today brings against a side I think will be there or thereabouts come May next year.
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