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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