Southampton V Leeds United The Preview
Tuesday, 18th May 2021 13:27
Saints take on Leeds United at St Mary's looking for revenge after a 3-0 defeat at Elland Road back in February, a scoreline that didn't reflect the game itself and a bad night all round with Oriol Romeu fracturing his ankle.
Saints look to make it 3 home wins in a week with the arrival of Leeds to the South Coast, the first job is to ensure we don't finish bottom of the clubs who have not been relegated with the second being to try and move ourselves up the Premier League and finish as high as 12th.
Leeds will be hoping to win their final two games and then have a few other results go their way and perhaps hit 8th place, but such is the Premier League in the centre positions if Saints were to win they would be only 7 points behind the visitors should they win tonight.
Saints go into the game with more confidence that they have had since early December before our awful injury problems began and subsequent disastrous run of defeats.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has a few dilemmas tonight, he will have Oriol Romeu & Jan Bednarek both back from injury, so does he change the balance of the side for this one or keep the side that played so well against Fulham.
He has to achieve a balance between playing his strongest team and giving those who are chomping at the bit to prove themselves a chance.
Does he bring back Bednarek and if so who drops out Jack Stephens or Mohamed Salisu, does he stay with a back three or go back to a back four.
If he brings in Romeu does he play a central three or does he move Stuart Armstrong back out wide.
The good thing is he has options in all departments and it is about using them to the best system available.
Other than that it is only good news for Ralph, virtually everyone who played on Saturday could come off happy with their performance and they will all be keen to play and hopefully that will reflect in another spirited display.
Leeds have had a good second half of the season, but they are a strange side, they play an end to end game and that doesn't always suit us, as we found out back in February, but they can be just as bad as they are good sometimes and one thing that we do know is that the game is never over with them whether they are winning or losing, they can throw a game away from a winning position just as much as they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
So I would be surprised if it was a low scoring game, Leeds have scored 57 goals and conceded 53, add our 47 goas for and 63 against and a goal fest looks on the cards.
A win will guarantee 14th place whatever happens elsewhere and that is perhaps a good finishing point given the second half of the season, but even a draw should ensure we don't end up in 17th bottom of the non relegated clubs, given that Brighton are facing Manchester City this evening.
But we want and need better than 16th, not just to make it look better on the stats but to bring n some much needed income, with each place worth over £2 million, just a few places make a big difference.
It will be good to get back into St Mary's with something approaching a crwd present, when we played the previous two games at home the 2,000 made a lot of noise but they were only in one stand and it had a strange feel.
Hopefully tonight with fans in all four stands it will be something like how watching football used to be.
This will be the first taste of live football for around 2/3rds of the crowd tonight, it is finally a chance to support the team again and get back to enjoying the live experience of football in St Mary's again, whatever the result enjoy it.
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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