Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Southampton endured a disastrous weekend

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 15 Apr 2018

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I recently wrote that I believed that Southampton were improving under boss Mark Hughes. I even went as far as saying that I believed they could escape the relegation zone.

This weekend’s results have made that outcome a lot less likely. The Saints suffered a galling 3-2 home defeat against Chelsea on Saturday at St Marys.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield both pick up wins, while Swansea also picked up a point at home to Everton. It could have been worse the Swans could have scored a winner, which would really have left the saints staring down the barrel.

Another decent display but no points

At certain points in the season, there are games you can write off and be happy to play well in. For teams at the bottom of the table, they are usually games against the top four or top six.

However, when it gets this point of the season there are no free hits or games you can afford to write-off. Hughes side has now produced decent displays in their last two league games, yet they have picked up no points.

In fact, on the hour mark of yesterday’s game against the Blues, the south coast side were two goals up and looking set to escape the relegation zone. However, three Chelsea goals in the last 20 minutes were a hammer blow to their survival hopes.

As soon as Chelsea substitute Olivier Giroud scored on 70 minutes, you could sense the nervousness from everybody of the Southampton persuasion, including the players. An equaliser was not inevitable, but it was always likely considering the Saints recent home form.

To lose the game was must have affected the players badly. The fans that remained in St Marys seem to be positive after the game. However, it was another game and another defeat for Hughes side.

Time is running out

While recent displays have been positive for the south coast side, time is running out to get out of the relegation zone. Hughes has come into the job at a late stage of the campaign.

He is an average boss, who has had some decent results at his other clubs. The Welshman was always a character on the pitch, but for me, his playing ability far outweighed his managerial abilities. He was a fantastic footballer.

No doubt, he has his own ideas on management and he is attempting to get them across to his players. However, there is little time left for that to happen. The players have upped their game in recent games, but have come up against superior opposition who have ruthlessly exposed their weaknesses.

Now one of the three favourites to go down

Things are not looking good for Southampton, as the Saints are now 4/9 third favourites to suffer relegation after bottom two Stoke and of course West Brom.

There is only a gap of five points between the south coast club and the safety of Swansea and 17th place. However, five points can be a massive gap at this point of the season.

For Southampton to overtake the Swans, it would mean the Welsh side losing at least two games before the season and the Saints bettering their point’s total. At the minute, the team from the south coast have a record of one win in their last 20 top-flight games, which obviously needs to improve if they are to survive.

On paper, the Saints remaining five fixtures are mixed, with away games against Leicester, Everton and Swansea, while they also host Bournemouth and Manchester City at St Marys.

The majority of those teams will have very little to play for by the time they meet the Saints. However, the clash with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium could prove to be vital.

Nobody knows what sort of line-ups team with very little to play for will field in the last few games of the season. However, teams with nothing to play for often play with a certain freedom.

The most important factor for the saints is how they perform and that they believe they can actually get out of their current position. It doesn’t look good, but everybody connected with the club just has to hope that the team’s recent improvement in form will lead to much-needed wins in the near future.

Can Southampton still beat the drop this season?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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