The Pressure Is Now Back On For Saints
Thursday, 18th Jun 2020 12:59
It's back to action for Saints at Norwich City on Friday evening, but Ralph Hasenhuttl expects that his team can handle it as they look to get off to a better start for the re start than they did the original opening of the season back in August.
The task is clear for Saints when they kick off the remainder of the season against the Canaries at Carrow Road, they need to get the points on the board that will mean that they do not have to look over their shoulders at the relegation zone, but can start to concentrate on building for next season.
In some respects the trip to Norwich on paper should be the easiest of the season on paper, the Canaries are rock bottom of the Premier League table six points clear of safety and their home record is the second worst in the division, the only worse club being ourselves.
Add to that the circumstances surrounding the game now and nothing can be taken for granted and Norwich will be coming out all guns blazing knowing that anything less than a win could see them cut adrift at the bottom.
But this could work in Saints favour, before the break our away record was far better than their home one, so from this viewpoint we would prefer to be away from home than at St Mary's,
Only one club has conceded more goals at home than Norwich and yes that is us again, however 19 goals scored in 14 games shows that they usually find the net at Carrow Road, this doesn't sound a lot, but 8 teams haven't managed this number, Everton have the same and even Wolves in 6th place have only scored two more on their home turf.
So Saints have to be able to handle the pressure of a home side going hell for leather and then turn that around to turn that pressure on to the men in Yellow, that means keeping it tight and punishing them on the break, just as we have seen sides do to us at St Mary's time and time again.
Indeed this is why our record is decent away and appalling at home, we just cannot defend sides that break quickly when we are camped out in their half, but we are set up for doing just that away from home.
Certainly Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is confident his players can handle the pressure and feels that this could be a lot less than if the game had been played in front of a crowd.
“Handling the pressure is something that Premier League players should be able to do.
“I don’t know if the pressure will be the same when you go to an away game with a full crowd because that’s always a special atmosphere.
“I think it’s more about being sharp, being motivated and being loud on the pitch. I think we will be able to communicate more.”
Hassenhuttl is right, the Norwich fans would have been up for it and creating a lot of noise, now that will be evened up with an empty stadium.
Many Saints fans will also agree with me in that when we play at St Mary's there is a pressure put on our own team by the crowd who have grown battle weary after a couple of seasons of struggle.
The majority of the St Mary's crowd gets behind the team and as has been shown at times the crowd can carry the team, but there is an underlying tension, certain players feel it, it is not open abuse, but an audible sigh when a ball goes astray or a chance has been missed.
Nathan Redmond was a victim of this a couple of seasons ago, but he never hid and played through it and in doing so became one of our most important players, James Ward Prowse has also suffered as has Pierre Emile Hojbjerg who now finds himself Spurs Number 1 target.
So as much as playing in front of an empty stadium away will help us, I think that at St Mary's it may be more of a help than hindrance, the team can play without fear and if they can do that and get the results that will get the fans back on side for when they can attend games again.
So the pressure will start at Carrow Road, we are still weak in some areas but hopefully we can handle that and bond as a team and get the points in the bag that we need to ensure that we not only stay up, but we stay up by a long distance.
Photo: Action Images
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