Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Safety Still To Be Assured

It’s a fantastic time to be a Saints fan currently; sitting twelfth in the Premier League on 34 points after consecutive home wins against Liverpool and Chelsea respectively and playing fast-flowing attacking football. However, the Saints still need to get over the last few hurdles in the fight for survival with seven games remaining.

Saturday’s win over European champions Chelsea was very impressive, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side clinched back-to-back wins for the first time since November. The task now is to secure the club’s Premier League status and the run-in for Southampton (pictured left) does not frighten them, starting with Saturday’s trip to Reading. Everybody knows the importance of the match, despite the fact that new Reading boss Nigel Adkins will fact his former club for the first time since he was sacked in January. It will be an emotional game. However, the players will be determined to do their job and grind out the all-important three points in another step towards survival. Reading will be a tough game as it will be Adkins’ first home match in charge of the Royals and it is set to be a cracker in the early kick-off. 

The Saints then return to St. Mary’s to face West Ham, in a match where there is the big possibility of reaching the 40 point mark. If Southampton can win their next two matches, it would be a massive step towards survival, especially as they are currently seventh in the Premier League form-table where they are currently unbeaten in their last three matches. Despite a section of Saints fans thinking that the team should have more points than they already have, including myself, 34 points at this stage of the season is still respectable for a promoted club. Now is the time to look forward and not reflect on what could’ve been as it would only cause conflict between the Saints fans. The only event that I would look back on that has happened in the past few weeks is the crucial penalty save from Artur Boruc at Norwich. After the match, I thought that it could be a turning point in our season and look what happened in the next two matches; back-to-back wins! Now, it’s just a question of seeing the job through in a professional manner and pushing for a satisfactory finish in the Premier League table.

ARTUR TO THE RESCUE!: Boruc saves Holt's stoppage-time penalty at Norwich

As previously stated, when the fans see the run-in that the Saints have got, they should be reasonably happy with the remaining fixtures. Most of them are winnable, but the players should keep their minds focused on one game at a time. The majority of the credit for the recent results has to go to Pochettino for getting his players working tremendously hard. He has progressed the squad in terms of their fitness requiring them to do double the sessions that they usually do and working on the frightening pressing game that they have adapted to really well. Some pundits have claimed that the squad will be fatigued from playing this style of football. However, it has improved their fitness significantly and their all-round play.

MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF: Mauricio Pochettino

What Southampton need to do in the run is to kill-off teams when they are ahead. The statistic of losing 27 points from winning position isn’t what every Saints fan wants to see, but the fact of the matter is that it is a fact. The inability to finish teams off has been a slight problem for the Saints this season. However, there is still time to learn from this and guide the club to safety. There are goals in all areas of the squad as it has proved so far this season. Southampton are currently the eighth highest scorers in the Premier League with 44 and they have also currently scored more goals than any other team in the bottom half. Saturday’s visit to the Madjeski Stadium could be a great chance to add to their goal tally as they face a Reading side, who are rooted to the bottom and have conceded the most goals in the league with 61.

Every point picked up, whether it is one or three, is vital in staying up in the Premier League as everybody knows. Southampton are only four points above the relegation zone but also have a great chance of staying up. If they win their next two games, they are almost guaranteed survival (depending on other results of course!). It is going to be an exciting end to the season for everybody involved with Southampton Football Club and let’s hope it will end positively!