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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Knees-up Mother Brown #14 by wessex_exile
The blog returns with KMB14, after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.
Knees-up Mother Brown #13 by wessex_exile
KMB13, and this weekend I’m sure we will all, in our own way, pause to remember the fallen. With war again raging in Europe, and the Middle East aflame, I’m sadly reminded of the lyrics of Eric Bogle.
Knees-up Mother Brown #12 by wessex_exile
It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in Matches of Yesteryear #20, and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.
Knees-up Mother Brown #11 by wessex_exile
Well, following the U’s has been a bit of a rollercoaster through the last week. Ben Garner’s U’s slumped to a very poor home defeat last Saturday against Harrogate Town, despite taking the lead with a sublime strike from Chay Cooper. Robbie had seen enough, and that evening Ben was let go, with U21 lead coach Matty Etherington announced as the interim Head Coach on Monday. On Tuesday night, Matty Etherington’s U’s put in one hell of a shift, to come away from Grimsby (Cleethorpes – ed.) with all three points and a masterclass from Arthur Read – happy days, could Matty be our man? Well, not right now that’s for sure, after a call to Robbie from Crawley Town yesterday letting him know that apparently Matty is tied up in a contract exit clause from his brief spell at Crawley, seemingly forbidding him from operating in a head coach/ manager role until May 2024 (when his Crawley contract would have expired). So, Matty Etherington is stood down, with Assistant Head Coach Scott Marshall stepping up as our new interim Head Coach for the tough trip to Accrington Stanley.
Knees-up Mother Brown #10 by wessex_exile
Back again, after another U’s-induced matchday ‘experience’ at FGR, and what an experience it was. What was already a poor match between two poor sides descended into insanity after the red card for Mingi, with the U’s dismantled repeatedly to let four second half goals in. I hardly ever leave a game before the final whistle, but as the board went up for nine more minutes I’d seen enough and me and Alfie headed out for our lift home (and as a result, missed the frank exchange of views between players and supporters at the end). However, let’s focus on the positives, whatever was said, a much changed U’s were a different team on Tuesday at League 1 Cambridge. The U’s thoroughly deserved the win and their Pizza Slice Trophy three points, thanks in no small part to an excellent performance from Chay Cooper.
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