Ronald Koeman does not expect Sunderland’s players to be as generous this weekend as they were in October when Southampton romped to an 8-0 win in the Premier League.
Own goals from Santiago Vergini, Liam Bridcutt and Patrick van Aanholt capped a miserable day at St Mary’s Stadium for Sunderland under former head coach Gus Poyet, with Will Buckley and Vito Mannone also at fault.
That marked the lowest point of a disappointing campaign for third-bottom Sunderland that has left them entrenched in the relegation zone as Southampton prepare to head to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Dick Advocaat replaced Poyet in March, but has won just once – against Newcastle United – in the four matches he has overseen.
In stark contrast, Southampton, who are seventh, are still pushing for a European place, despite a drop in form in recent weeks. And Koeman knows his team will have to work hard at Sunderland rather than rely on defensive mistakes.
“We had unbelievable help from the players of Sunderland,” said Koeman reflecting on Southampton’s biggest Premier League win. “It was so strange. We didn’t play really well.
“We scored great goals, but the game of this Saturday will be totally different.
“They have two home games and they need two wins. That means a lot of pressure and we have to prepare for that.
“Dick Advocaat is a man with a lot of experience in difficult circumstances. He will give them the fighting spirit to stay in the Premier League.”
With Sunderland set to face Arsenal and Chelsea away during the final week of the season, Advocaat’s side do not need reminding of the importance of the upcoming games against Southampton, Everton and fellow strugglers Leicester City.
But Sunderland beat the drop against the odds 12 months ago thanks to wins at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford and defender Billy Jones told the Shields Gazette: “I would like to get six points going into the last two games.
“That would be our aim, to get those six points as soon as possible and see where that takes us and where we are at that point.
“If we win the next game, the whole mood changes again. We go into this game knowing that a win would massively help our cause.”
Southampton have been hit by the news that midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin will miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury, while Dusan Tadic (groin) is also sidelined.
Advocaat has no new worries despite John O’Shea suffering facial injuries in the 1-1 draw at Stoke City last weekend, so the hosts are likely to be without Steven Fletcher, Ricky Alvarez, Wes Brown and Emanuele Giaccherini.
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