Leeds United Game Crucial To Southampton Final Premier League Position
Monday, 17th May 2021 10:24
As we enter the final week of the strangest Football season ever and the last two games beginning with the visit of Leeds United to St Mary's, we take a look at how crucial a win over the Yorkshire side could be with Saints currently able to finish anywhere between 17th & 12th.
Sky Sports are looking at a nightmare last day of the season, usually there is tension somewhere, the Premier League title is up for grabs and if that is not the case as is more often than not they can focus on the relegation dogfight.
Both of these contests have already been decided and Sky now have to look to the Champions League places, they breathed a sigh of relief when Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson scored a last minute winner over West Brom in that it meant that those places have to go to the final day with two out of Liverpool, Chelsea & Leicester vying for 3rd & 4th place. Tottenham & West Ham could theoretically be involved on the final day, but unlikely.
Here Liverpool could do us a big favour, their final two games are away to Burnley and home to Crystal Palace, Saints fans might wish for Liverpool to miss out in the Champions League, but two wins for them would boost Saints hopes of 13th place.
But first we have to do our own job and that starts with the game against Leeds United at St Mary's on Tuesday evening. Saints start the week in 14th place, 4 points ahead of Burnley & Newcastle with Brighton 5 points behind.
Beating Leeds will mean that 13th place is secured and with a tough game at West Ham to end up we need to get our business done early.
Then we can look above us and Palace play their penultimate game at home to Arsenal on Wednesday, a point for us would be enough to leapfrog the Eagles again on goal difference and if they lost to Liverpool on the final day enough to keep us above them in the final table as long as we didn't lose by 6 goals more than them.
But we still have to look over our shoulders at the chasing trio of clubs, Brighton play Manchester City at home on Tuesday and anything other than a win would see them unable to catch us.
On Wednesday Newcastle are at home to Sheffield United which looks a home banker, but the Blades won at Everton yesterday, however two away wins in a row in the space of 4 days is unlikely for the long relegated side.
Burnley as I have said face Liverpool and the Merseyside club winning would leave them unable to catch us.
So we need to get our business done early and get three points in the bag, then we can forget the chasing pack and concentrate on 13th place and even 12th, Wolves occupy that spot at present, a win at St Mary's would also take us above them by a point before they play at Everton on Wednesday, after that they are at home to Manchester United on the final day.
So 11th place is a distinct possibility, we have the advantage that we are back in form with two straight wins, but can we win another two to end the season with a flourish as we did in 2016 to come in on the rails beating Crystal Palace to finish 6th five years ago today ?
The answer is that it is a possibility and that could potentially draw us level with Aston Villa in 11th, but don't get carried away, we would have to turn around a 23 goal difference , that surely is an impossibility.
But it does highlight how this season has been and the tight margins, if we had won just one other game during our awful run and that game was Aston Villa and we all remember the injustices in that game, we would now be level with them on 46 points.
But these are only the theoretical what if's, we now need to do the business, we have a tough final couple of games, but in truth they are against sides who are no better than us, but they have had the rub of the green at times and have not had as much bad luck as ourselves.
But the sides around us have tough games as well, so it's likely to be the most competitive part of the Premier League on Sunday.
Why is it going to be so competitive some may ask, when Sky on Sunday talked about dead rubbers with so many things settled at the top and the bottom ?
The plain and simple answer is like everything in the Premier League these days it comes down to money , the merit money per League payment is around £2.1 million per position.
So if Saints finish 17th they will receive around £8.5 million in merit payments, if they can finish 14th then that will rise to around £15 million and if they can finish with a flourish and end in 12th then that could rise to nearly £20 million.
So Saints have around £12 million to play for going into the final two games of the season and given the financial plight of ALL clubs at present not just Saints it is money not to be sniffed at and a big chunk of the transfer budget for the summer.
So from a financial perspective all of those 6 clubs including Saints are desperate to finish as high as they can.
A win against Leeds on Tuesday evening may not sound too much in footballing terms but it will guarantee £6 million pounds !
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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