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Big Weekend For Southampton In The Premier League
Thursday, 23rd Sep 2021 10:39

A start of four out of five games unbeaten in the Premier League is solid, but the fact that there hasn't been one win in those games is something that has to change, having done the spadework Saints now need to build on the foundations.

The opening 8 games of the Premier League this season were on paper one of the toughest starts that we could have asked for, indeed in the corresponding fixtures last season we managed just two points out of 24.

The fact that with 3 games of the 8 remaining we already have 4 points on the board shows that we have made progress from last term, but although 4 points from 5 games gives us a very respectable 15th position at the moment, 4 points from 8 games would almost certainly see us in the bottom 3 and our start would change from solid to poor.

This weekend therefore is a big one for Southampton FC and with Wolverhampton Wanderers a team one place and one point behind us in the table the visitors the game at St Mary's on Sunday isn't hard to pinpoint as a vital one in our opening 8 fixtures.

A win against Wolves would relieve a lot of pressure, but defeat would pile it all on and could see us drop into the bottom 3 if results elsewhere also went against us..

So where could we end up come Monday evening when the last game of the weekend is played.

The weekend's fixtures start on Saturday with two lunchtime kick offs, Chelsea V Manchester City a game that won't really have a baring on us either way and also Manchester United V Aston Villa, a game that could have.

If Villa lose heavily to United then we could feasibly jump above them on goal difference should we despatch their near neighbours at St Mary's , we start the weekend having to overturn a 3 goal deficit in those figures so a 2-0 defeat for Villa plus a 2-0 win for us would be satisfying in that we could jump above Villa.

There are 4 games at 3pm on Saturday, Everton V Norwich which looks a home banker and in terms of looking over our shoulders a home win would be best, if the Canaries won then they would only be a point behind us. Personally I think a draw would be best as it would keep the Toffee's within our sights if we won on Sunday.

Leeds United V West Ham United is another that affects us directly, a draw for Leeds would put them level with us on 4 points but with a worse goal difference, so for me that would be the best result as it would keep West Ham like Everton within our sights.

A Leeds win would of course drop us down a place and push us within danger of being in the top 3 come 5pm on Saturday, yes it would need a big turn in goal difference from both Burnley who are at Leicester City and would need to win 4-0, but it would be possible.

Newcastle are at Watford in the final 3pm kick off and again another draw would be good.

Finally on Saturday and Brentford host Liverpool in the 5.30pm kick off, it may gall Saints fans to want Liverpool to win, but the reality is that Brentford are the club we will be jostling for position with this season not Liverpool, a Brentford defeat would mean a win for us Sunday would leave us only a point behind.

On Sunday the other game is Arsenal V Tottenham Hotspur, again a draw would be good, it would keep Spurs way off the pace at the top and also mean we could leapfrog Arsenal on goal difference by beating Wolves.

On Monday night Crystal Palace host Brighton and again both are clubs who we will jostle with in the table, with danger of repeating myself a draw here would be best, a win for Brighton would see them on 15 points and way out of our reach, whereas a draw would leave them out in front, but not only can we leapfrog Palace with a win, we can stay within 6 points of the Seagulls.

So this weekend is the one that starts to sort out the wheat from the chafe, starts to show who can sustain a good start and who is going to struggle, by Monday evening we could be as low as 19th, we could be as high as 11th.

The most important thing of the weekend though is to keep things in our own hands, we can't rely on other results, we have to get our own points on the table, a first Premier League win of the season against Wolves would make it a solid start, would mean we could not end the weekend lower than the 15th we start in, but could end it higher and more importantly for the first step of the season would likely leave us with a clear gap between us and the bottom 3.

This time last season we really started to soar and it gave us high hopes of challenging for Europe and at least a top 8 finish, the reason that we fell apart was down to injuries and no depth in the squad, this season we have that depth.

Yes the loss of Danny Ings is a big blow, but we now have 3 strikers instead of two to spread the workload up front and the hope is that the depth of the squad will compensate for the loss of Ings.

So the game against Wolves is our biggest of the season so far, it is time for everyone to step up to the plate and push in the same direction, the team have shown they have potential they now have to start turning that good promise into winning games, to do that they need a positive atmosphere in St Mary's and this year so far the supporters who have gone to the two home games have been magnificent.

I'm not going to whinge on about empty seats, I just want supporters that are positive going, the fans were definitely the 12th man against both Manchester United and West Ham, let's keep it that way, I would rather have silent empty seats than someone sat in them who only opens their mouth to hurl abuse at our own team and players.

The last 18 months should remind us why we follow football and support our team, it is about enjoyment, no one likes losing games, but it is a fact of life and one if you lose a game it is not the end of the World.

Get behind your team and you may just find that it spurs them on to victory and you leave the stadium with a smile on your face after seeing them earn 3 points.

I'm not slagging off our fans here, I'm praising the ones that went to the opening two home games, those that gave such great support at Everton, Newport, Newcastle & Sheffield United, brilliant support that never faltered and that is the way it should be, if you were one of those fans then you understand what I mean, if you weren't, well you missed out on something !

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JoeEgg added 12:36 - Sep 23
I must say I find it hard to digest some of the strong points made in this article. We now have a much stronger squad than last year, so of course we should be doing better. Its ridiculous to claim that 15th position is 'progress' - we haven't won a single game yet without the aid of a penalty shot out! The fans are asked to pay a lot of money to attend football matches and when Ralph puts out a team to entertain and score goals St Mary's will be full again.
If Ralph insists on playing a single striker we may be close to another clean sheet but we dont appear to have natural goal scorers and entertainment wise thats what the fans want to see - GOALS and matches WON.
Somehow, presumably thanks to our scouts, we have managed to recruit some of the most promising young players for many years. However, I am not convinced that we have either the manager or coaching staff to make the most of this undoubted potential. Many of these new arrivals have been pitched into a relegated Saints B team that still cant win a match and I am fed up reading their excuses! Of late we have learned how to keep a clean sheet and to a considerable extent we have Jack Stephens to thank for much of the improvement. Once again , just as we discover a defensive partnership well worth sticking with, we have the serious injury hoodoo striking again.
When you read an article pleading with the fans to get behind the players and think positive, I dont think there would be a single supporter who wouldn't say 'Yes' thats what I want to do! Personally I believe we have the players to be a comfortable Top 10 side -better than Spurs - better than Arsenal. Certainly much better than 15th position!! To reach this higher level of achievement, in my opinion, it is the manager himself and his coaching staff that still have to prove that they are up to the task.

SaintStu7 added 20:36 - Sep 23
Nick you have certainly provided some great perspective on the start to this season. Some people clearly are too ignorant to understand the finer detail. Really need that win on Sunday that will build on a solid start but as you say not the end of the world if we can’t do it. I think we may have won 8-0 at Newport by the way. COYR

davidargyll added 08:18 - Sep 24
I think the point to bear in mind on Sunday is that we have been playing well but not winning, and of course at the same time not scoring (enough). I remain optimistic that we haven’t plateaued as yet and there is more to come. But that is at least arguable. Meanwhile Wolves have had a similar start to us and clearly are still finding their feet under a new manager.
“Who has the ability to lift themselves up a level?” therefore is the question, hopefully us and, so long as we aren’t careless like against SU or in February against Wolves themselves when we surrendered a lead after half time, on home territory we have every chance of doing so. Three points therefore would be great, but one would not be a disaster.


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