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Important Two Weeks For Southampton Now Coming Up
Monday, 20th Nov 2023 09:12

Saints have had a couple of good months where they have honed their style of playing and put together an 8 game unbeaten run that has pulled them up the table and now in the next two weeks they have a perfect chance to open up a gap and also hopefully reign in the top two a little.

As September went into it's last week, the knives were out for Russell Martin and his side, four straight defeats had sent us plunging down the table and it was doom & gloom.

But after a superb victory over Leeds United on the final day of the month kicked off what became the current unbeaten run of 8 games, with 6 of them wins, we have started to build up confidence and a head of steam.

The really good thing about the run was that it included games against teams in main in the top half of the table, Leeds, Hull & Preston were all above us in the table when we played them and Birmingham City would have gone above us if they had won, only Rotherham could be considered a team at the bottom.

Now after two weeks of twiddling our thumbs during the International break, we have a run of 4 games in 14 days against teams that are in the main around the bottom half of the table.

We start off at Huddersfield who sit just one place above the relegation zone, follow it up by hosting Bristol City who sit firmly in mid table, followed by Cardiff at St Mary's, the Welsh side sit in 9th place and harbour hopes of a run at the play offs sitting on 24 points, but they are one of a number of sides who could surge up the table or drop down it depending on their form.

Last of the run of four games is Watford who currently sit in 13th on 21 points after 3 wins and 2 draws in their last 5 games.

All of these are at time of writing winnable games and we have to make sure that we win them and keep our run going, but each one of them could well be in or out of form by the time we play them.

Huddersfield on Saturday are very much out of form, just 4 points from their last 5 matches, a win and draw being their only points and we need to put them to the sword.

They themselves may be worrying about relegation by the time we kick off on the Saturday, at the moment they are 4 points clear of Rotherham, but the Millers host Leeds on Friday night and they themselves have pulled up the table in recent weeks, in the past 5 games a win and 2 draws, one against 2nd place Ipswich Town showed that they are not dead and buried yet and they will be hoping to put the pressure on fellow Yorkshire side Huddersfield and hopefully they will do us a favour.

Leicester face Watford at home and Ipswich travel to West Brom and that will be a toughie for them and will mean that one of our challenges for promotion will have to drop points, maybe both.

So who do the 3 sides above us play in the next fortnight after this weekend. ?

In next week's midweek matches, like us they all play on the Wednesday evening, Leeds host Swansea City, Leicester are at rock bottom club Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich face Millwall at Portman Road, it is hard to see any of them dropping points.

This is followed in the weekend fixtures by Leicester travelling to West Brom, Ipswich hosting Coventry and Leeds at home to Middlesbrough, this is very much a weekend when all three could drop points and if we can capitalise by beating Cardiff then it could well be one of the pivotal weekend's of the season.

Finally on the 9th of December sees Blackburn hosting Leeds, Middlesbrough taking on Ipswich at the Riverside and Leicester at home to Plymouth.

Our job though is to look to take maximum points from these four games, if we do so the top of the League table might look a lot different come the 9th of December.

I would say we have the easiest of the fixtures, although that means nothing unless we win them, Ipswich probably have the hardest, 3 of their games are against promotion hopefuls and only Millwall could be seen as truly winnable for them.

Leeds & Leicester both have games where they could drop points, but I would expect them to perhaps take 10 points each from the four games.

Saints have put themselves in a good position, now we need to keep going and not only increase the gap between ourselves and the 7th place which is the position directly below the play offs, but make inroads into the top two.

First things first though and despatching Huddersfield is the first task in hand, we need to do that and do it well.

Photo: Action Images

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Bowlercow added 10:56 - Nov 20
Burnley put together a run of 21 games unbeaten Now if we can match that ???
A couple of weeks ago I posted that if we win our next 6 we would then have an average of 2 points per game I said it to show how useless stats can be I never believed it would happen but here we are just two wins away from it becoming a reality
I am loving it being a big club in an all be it smaller pond

underweststand added 11:04 - Nov 20
As you have highlighted (Nick) the games are coming thick and fast now, and it's actually ...11 games in a period of 38 days... upto and includíng 1st January game away at Norwich, then to be followed by the FA Cup 3rd round games often played first weekend in Jan.

Almost all of the league games are against clubs in the middle / bottom end /of the table, which doesn't mean they will be easy, but all such matches must be rated as "important "
if we are serious about getting promotion, and as our game v. Rotherham showed that even 80 % possession and 20+ shots is no guarantee of winning all 3 points.

The real test will be ..How will our first choice players stand upto the intense pace of the fixture list (as written above). RM will surely need to rest a few key players at some point, and we must also hope that no-one gets any serious injuries, and hope that those who do get a start... and /or come the bench can DAJFU when needed. Tough challenge.

SaintNick added 12:44 - Nov 20
I have taken a short term view to start with, but you are right the games will come thick and fast in the next six weeks or so and i think this is where we will have the edge over our rivals, we truly have strength in depth which will stand us in good stead.

highfield49 added 15:32 - Nov 20
It looks as though any or all of our regular midfield players are likely to miss games through suspension sooner than later. Downes, Charles, Smallbone and Alcaraz are near the five card brink and whilst "taking one for the team" is excusable a couple of soft bookings would be irritating. Thankfully Holgate, Aribo. Stu Armstrong and Fraser can all adapt and cover those likely absences and, as has been said, we do indeed now have strength in depth.

1962saint added 17:06 - Nov 20
After several miserable seasons of struggle against the drop it is now so enjoyable to look forward to the next match. Home and away we are winning again and another plus is the absence of VAR where fans and players can fully celebrate a goal.
As Bowlercow observed, Burnley went on an unbeaten 21 game last season and ended up winning the league by a sizeable margin.
In my post at the end of last season, when relegation was clearly inevitable, I remember writing that perhaps we could ‘do a Burnley’.
Now I’m not so sure seeing that the Burnley team that swept all before them in the Championship are now rock bottom of the Prem.
Of course, we all hope to see success and enjoy a promotion party but this would be with some apprehension of the probable prospect of just surviving relegation each season.

WestSussexSaint added 07:47 - Nov 21
These fixtures leading up to January will not only give a clear indication on our promotion chances but will also influence our transfer dealings in the January transfer window. A strong showing now may encourage SR to fund purchases on areas of the squad that need it or players that can help push us to promotion. Equally it encourages our top talent who could be tempted by a PL club to stay on in anticipation that they will be playing in the PL next season.

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