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Good Weekend For Saints Or Not ?
Monday, 10th Feb 2020 09:38

It was a good weekend from one aspect in that we didn't lose as we didn't play, but depending on your optimism or lack of it, was it a good weekend or a disappointing one.

The mid winter break that sees all clubs get the best part of a fortnight's break on a staggered basis saw 3 fixtures completed whilst another was postponed due to the weather.

The two Saturday fixtures went pretty much the way we would have wanted them to, perhaps a draw would have been better in the Everton V Crystal Palace game, as it would have kept Everton within our sights, but a draw or a win for the Eagles would have seen us drop a place so from that perspective the toffees winning was probably for the best.

For those with less optimism than others a draw in the evening fixture was ideal, it left Watford still second from bottom on 24 points, still 7 behind us and Brighton on 27 and we now have a game in hand on both.

With West Ham's game at Manchester City on Sunday postponed due to the weather than means that no one in the bottom three has made any ground on us.

Sunday's game was one that for most Saints fans would be mixed emotions, if you are optimistic about the remainder of the season then Sheffield United beating Bournemouth was a bad result as it means the Blades are now 8 points clear of us in 5th place.

But if you are one of those Saints fans still lookig over their shoulders or indeed one that perhaps used to have a soft spot for Bournemouth but are now sick and tired of some of their supporters trying to generate rivalries when none exist, at least not on our side of the New Forest, then this was a great result as it starts to polarise the position at the bottom.

As I have stated in earlier articles the job is to get to 40 points as quickly as possible and banish thoughts of relegation and we can take a big step towards that if we can dispatch Burnley on Saturday.

That result would truly create a big gap between us and the relegation threatened pack that now consists of 6 clubs for the 3 places for the drop.

It has to be said that Norwich City are looking doomed with only 18 points on the board and 7 short of safety which with their goal difference could be said to be really 8, they play Liverpool at home on Saturday and defeat for them would leave them a mountain to climb.

So it is probably more like 2 from 5 for the remaining place, Watford have picked up of late but they still have only taken 5 points from their last 5 games with theil last win coming in the first of those, the Nigel Pearson effect seems to have slowed a little for the Hornets, they are playing well but not picking up the points, they really should have won at Brighton, but threw it away.

West Ham have a difficult run coming up and the natives are getting restless, the game being called off at Manchester City was probably the best result for them, they are better trying to catch City when they have a fixture pile up later in the season.

But the Hammers are now firmly in the relegation dog fight on 24 points.

That leaves Aston Villa, Brighton & Bournemouth looking over their shoulders and Spurs are the visitors to Villa Park next weekend, defeat to them would make it a big game for them at St Mary's a week later.

The team really in trouble though are probably Bournemouth they have the run in from hell, of their final 12 games, 7 are against teams in the top 8 and the other 4 are against the four teams including us on 30/31 points, in short they are all against teams playing for something and none against rivals in the bottom 6.

West Ham's run in is tough but they have games against Watford, Villa and Norwich so in their own hands.

Watford too have a tough run in, they have to play Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester, Man Utd, Chelsea & away to Arsenal on the final day.

Brighton have a similar run in to the Hornets, but they have to play Liverpool instead of Chelsea.

So was this a good weekend for you, are you still looking over your shoulder at the moment or are you looking upwards and thinking that our run in gives us a decent chance of a top 10 finish or indeed higher.

I am a little caught in the middle at the moment, the last couple of years and indeed most of the 1990's taught me to be cautious, that things can change quickly in the relegation battle, there is usually a team that looks way out of it in February dragged back into it, but that truly should not be us, but then again Swansea said that two years ago.

We certainly have an opportunity for a decent finish, in the top 4 we only have to play Manchester City and then we have a variety of teams to play in the top 10 as well as all of the bottom 6, it could go either way but I would suggest that it is more likely to see us end the table somewhere between 11th & 14th, safely clear of relegation and perhaps within touching distance of the top 10 as we are now, but ultimately rueing not just a few of the games we have already thrown away but a few more between now and the end of the season.

Photo: Action Images



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underweststand added 10:45 - Feb 10
YES I suppose that a weeknd we don't play and yet hold our league position sounds good.
The real test is how we play when we get back to playing our fixtures in Feb.and March.

In December we needed those vital wins to get us out of the drop zone, now we have a run of "winnable" games against sides struggling below us. With 13 games left ...3 wins would see us up to 40 points..the traditional "safety figure".

If not ...the April fixtures look " challenging" to say the least, and it'll either be fighting for that elusive Euro spot, or at worst- ensuring we stay above the bottom three.

The squad is in real transition and introducing more young players. If we "sort out" the situation of the expensive " rejected loanees " then it's Ralph's chance to "do a Koeman" (who bought in eight new players in his first season.) and made it work.
Whilst we all complained we lacked experience in the team, it'll be interesting to see if Ralph buys "an old head " or two to steady things, or will we get some "class youngsters" to balance up the side.
Right now we have to beat Burnley on Saturday ..and despite our run of good results away, we still have to start winning regularly at home.
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halftimeorange added 11:08 - Feb 10
I'm of the opinion that Aston Villa will join Norwich in being relegated with one of Brighton or Bournemouth to go down with them. As for Saints - well, it's anyone's guess. The next six games are all conceivably winnable or, at the very least, could yield one or more points. If we pick up wins against Burnley and Villa we should be looking up and the bookies seem to see it that way, too and they're rarely wrong.
3

saintmark1976 added 11:49 - Feb 10
With the exception of Norwich all of the relegation candidates ( still including ourselves ) have close to, or more than a point a game to date. If this continues then it's quite possible that a club will be relegated with a points total in excess of forty. West Ham hold the record for a thirty eight match season being relegated having obtained forty two points. With this in mind I caution those who suggest we are already close to safety. There is a considerable amount still to be done starting on Saturday against probably the worst footballing team in the division,Burnley.

Personally I'm ambivalent as who takes the drop as long as it's not ourselves. If I had to hazard a guess I would suggest Norwich,Villa and with some regret Bournemouth.
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underweststand added 15:21 - Feb 10
Most of ehat since last Tuesday evening has been "standard media dogm" , but today's (read Monday) rumour / gossip / info. ...that the club will offer Shane Long an extension for next season is GOOD NEWS.
We are all regretful that many of Shane's efforts haven't resulted in more goals ... The FA could make a training film of all his point-blank misses (for young players to learn from) ...BUT considering the 100% he puts in every game , I think that 60 minutes of Shane Long in full flow is worth 90 minutes of the average Prem.player.
5

Colburn added 15:34 - Feb 10
Palace could be that team which drops from the top half to the relegation scrap. They have already slipped and they rely on one player. Can't see Norwich surviving and I think Villa will be OK, Bournemouth look doomed and Brighton are struggling with West Ham in the same boat, so these 3 and Palace will probably be where the other 2 come from. If we can grab 10 points from the next 5 games, which is not beyond the realms, then we can look towards that 7th spot. We are also providing tough opposition for the big teams so anything is possible.
2

Peterx added 16:02 - Feb 10
The way we are playing a result is possible in all of our remaining fixtures, even City at home, especially if they are focused on the Champions League, which seems likely. Will be great if we can get 3 wins out of our next 4 and then really push for a Top 6. Having said that I am also one of those having a nervous look in the rear-view mirror. I think good squads are going to go down this year. If you look at 27 points and below they have all got fight except for maybe West Ham, would not surprise me if they go down.
2

NYC_Saint added 16:09 - Feb 10
I was just pleased to see Billy Sharp get the winner. Still think we treated him unfairly when we got promoted but he got on with it and showing now he can do a job at the highest level.
5

SaintPaulVW added 16:12 - Feb 10
I'm old school and need to see that 40 points before I can relax. However I think this season safety could even need a few more.

36 seems too low a target to me. Aside from Norwich, who seem to have been set up to yo-yo between championship and PL, any of the sides currently down there have the players, managers and belief to start stringing results together.

Hopefully after our next 5 games we will get the 9 points and perhaps some more team's will have become rabbits caught in the relegation headlights.

We can then spend the last 8 games with the pressure off having a crack at finishing in the top half of the table.

However, if our defence goes South and Ings gets injured we may be scrapping with the rest of them.

Still it all promises to be exciting.

COYS!





2

LoisDeem added 11:19 - Feb 11
A good weekend for Saints, indeed -just hope we haven't lost momentum.
As one who watches our other rivals and Saints connections very closely, I was pleased for Billy Sharp and Mr Wilder, and the Blades can all show us (more established just) other teams how to punch above your weight. I still like what Nigel Pearson and Mr Shakespeare are rewriting and managing at Watford, despite their stutter with the Seagulls of Brighton, where I am moving my 'patronising a local lesser rival' attitude, having become bored with our western neighbours with the silly name.
That Marshall Cahill doesn't look so good at rounding up the baddies at Palace these days, despite many thinking we could have just ridden into Town and deputised him for our annual points stampede.
What I'd like to hear more from Saints now, is that they will be going all out for as many points, goals and clean sheets until the end of this season -they owe us this much, along with the newly discovered entertainment factor. Whilst I believe a lower points tally may prove enough for survival, Saints should be showing that this has become academic, and little to do with us.
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