Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Saints Open With Trip to the Baggies

Southampton will travel to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the 2013/2014 season. The Saints will be looking to avenge the 2-0 defeat by the Baggies on Bonfire Night where a Peter Odemwingie double secured the win for Steve Clarke’s side.

The first six fixtures are a blessing for Mauricio Pochettino and his team in comparison to the difficult start to their first season back in the Premier League. After West Brom, Southampton will host Sunderland before ending August with a trip to Carrow Road to face Norwich City. West Ham (H), Liverpool (A) and Crystal Palace (H) complete the first six fixtures as the Saints will be looking to get out of the starting blocks quickly.

Comparison of first six fixtures between 2012/2013 and 2013/2014:

Manchester City (A)
West Bromwich Albion (A)
Wigan Athletic (H)
Sunderland (H)
Manchester United (H)
Norwich City (A)
Arsenal (A)
West Ham United (H)
Aston Villa (H)
Liverpool (A)
Everton (A)
Crystal Palace (H)

November and December will be a testing period of the season for Southampton as they will compete against the likes of Stoke, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham. On Boxing Day, Pochettino’s men make the journey to newly-promoted Cardiff City which the Saints will be looking to end their bad run in the Welsh capital by taking all three points for the first time since 1965. Three days later, the squad will be on the road for their next match at Everton before welcoming José Mourinho’s Chelsea to St. Mary’s on New Year’s Day.

The month of March will also be a challenging episode of the season where it begins with the visit of Liverpool, where the Saints recorded an impressive 3-1 victory including a fantastic goal from Jay Rodriguez. The fans will be hoping to turn Selhurst Park into a home game, where an outstanding following of 6,000 made the short trip to Crystal Palace in 2012 to create Dellhurst Park. Saints then host Norwich before big games at Tottenham and at home to Newcastle round off the first month of Spring.

For the fourth consecutive season, Southampton will finish the season at St. Mary’s with the visit of the current champions Manchester United, who are now managed by David Moyes. Saints fans won’t need reminding of the last time the two clubs met each other on the final day in 2005, where the visitors secured a 2-1 success that relegated Southampton out of the top flight for the first time in 27 years.

The initial reaction from the fans is a positive one, mainly because of the start that Saints have. It promises to be an exciting season ahead, with more players expecting to join the squad after the addition of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren from Lyon on Friday. Don’t forget that this will be Pochettino’s first full season in charge at St. Mary’s so the fans can expect how he gets to grip with the English game after already taken charge for five months. The main aim for the club will be a top-half finish which will be a fantastic return in their second season back in the Premier League. The last time the club finished in the top half of the league was back in 2003, where we finished eighth, played in the FA Cup Final and qualified for Europe. The main question is; can the current crop of players be as successful as the squad of 10 years ago?

Come on you Saints!

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