Southampton At Liverpool The Preview
Saturday, 8th May 2021 10:00
Four months of poor results are catching up with Saints now in terms of League position and now we go to Anfield traditionally not a place we often get a result at, but things haven't gone well for Liverpool either, so can we get three points to guarantee safety and move up the table again.
Newcastle's shock win at Leicester City last night was good news for Liverpool but bad news for Saints fans, Newcastle who a few weeks ago looked odds on for a last day relegation nail biter at Fulham are now up to 13th and two points above us, the good news is that we have two games in hand.
But for Liverpool it has given them a slight ray of hope, they are 9 points behind Leicester who sit in 3rd place still, but they too have two games in hand and they know if they can win them both they have a chance albeit slight of coming in on the rails for a Champions League place.
This will be the rallying cry from Jurgen Klopp to his players and no doubt this will stir their emotions in terms of their bank accounts.
The Reds are still not guaranteed even a Europa League spot and they now have no room for yet more points dropped at home.
But they like Saints have injury woes, but although that has made them vulnerable at the back, they can still be a potent force going forward, although at Anfield they seem to be mainly cold of late, although as we know from experience when a team hasn't won for a number of games or a certain player hasn't scored for three years, you just know that will end when they face Saints.
The good news for Saints though is that they will have Jannik Vestergaard available after his red card and suspension was overturned on appeal.
But that poses a dilemma for Ralph Hasenhuttl does he restore Vestergaard to the middle of the defence or does he keep the back four as it ended the game against Leicester or indeed does he revert to a back three and employ wing backs to counter Liverpool's attacking threat down the flanks.
This is going to be the most interesting question that will be answered an hour before kick off.
Sadly it looks like Saints will be without Danny Ings who was the matchwinner back in January, although it looks like he and Oriol Romeu will be available for the final games of the season.
One person who will be playing though is Fraser Forster who will rotate with Alex McCarthy in the run in to the end of the season.
For Saints it is now all about having a strong finish to the season and in truth once we get this game out of the way we have a good chance of doing that.
There are positive whispers coming out of St Mary's about next season with rumours of a new owner and investment and that will surely please Ralph Hasenhuttl who has seen a promising season ruined by injury.
A trip to Anfield is usually not good for Saints, certainly not in the last few years since our last win there when Shane Long scored in the League Cup semi final four years ago, the Reds attack with pace and that is something we are not good at handling, however it may suit us to sit deep and then go on the counter attack.
Sadly a defeat will mean the League table won't look very good come the end of the weekend's fixtures, but as I say let's get this one over with and then concentrate on three straight home games to get us up the table.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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