Southampton travel to face Sheffield United as they look to stabilize their season.
Both sides come into the clash facing significant issues. The Blades are rock bottom of the table and 12 points from unlikely safety. The hosts have only managed to win four games all season.
Despite, an electric start to the campaign 2021 has not been kind to the Saints either. SFC’s victory over Liverpool marks the only Premier League win this year.
The Hampshire side has now lost eight of their last nine contests. A draw with Chelsea the only positive note in an otherwise dreadful run.
Will Southampton or Sheffield United change their fortunes?
The club have had to deal with almost a team’s worth of injuries during the early months of the year. Key players like Danny Ings, Kyle Walker Peters, and Jannik Vestergaard have been sidelined at various points during the season. Oriol Romeu meanwhile, finds himself out for the remainder of the term following a recent injury.
Pressure is beginning to build on manager Ralph Hasenhüttl as his side ship goals and prove ineffective upfront. During the last match against Everton Saints could only muster one shot on target in the entire game. (BBC Sport)
Despite the doom and gloom around some in the fan base, a strong start to the season has meant that it is highly unlikely the club will face relegation. Southampton sit seven points above the drop zone.
The red and white army are also aided by having to play several teams around them, who are already in relegation or who are nervously looking over their shoulders.
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Upcoming games include Brighton, Burnley, West Brom, and Crystal Palace. A trip to Manchester City aside the upcoming games are all evenly matched contests, if not better.
Sheffield United is the beginning of a sequence of games which will either see Saints coast to a relatively comfortable finish in England’s top flight or hurtling towards the bottom three.
Those looking to take some hope into Saturday’s clash can turn to the history book. The two sides have met seven times in the Premier League. The visitors have only lost once.
Southampton have one four and drawn two against the boys from Bramall Lane . SFC have already had success against their opposition this season defeating Chris Wilder’s side 3-0. Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong, and Che Adams all found the net back in December.
The Yorkshire outfit do have the better of recent form, but it’s hardly anything to write home about. The hosts have won one game in the last five and lost the other four.
The victory came in their last match against Aston Villa.
Southampton have built a vastly superior league position by comparison, but they recent form has the two clubs on an alarmingly even keel. Saints have failed to pick up a league win since defeating Liverpool and have only drawn one of their last five contests.
Hasenhüttl’s injury worries look to have eased significantly with the potential return of Takumi Minamino, Ibrahima Diallo and Kyle Walker Peters. (Premier League Website)
How Sheffield United Will Win
If we are being honest it’s fair to say Southampton are not at their best currently. The Blades may not need an abundance of quality to succeed.
If Sheffield can capitalize on a sloppy mistake, or a moment of indecision then they’ll make it very hard for Saints to take anything from their travels.
SFC have not only been off the pace at the back of late, but have continually struggled to create quality in front of goal.
Saints appear to lack the creativity to break down stubborn defences. Holding their shape and crowding the box may prove a recipe for success.
How Southampton Will Win
If the likes of Walker Peters, Diallo and Minamino return than they are likely to prove the difference. Fans have already had a taste of the Japanese’s finishing ability, Diallo, is a calm and solid presence in defensive midfield, while KWP is a strong performer at right back.
The full-back’s ability to receive Vestergaard’s long passes from defence into the final third adds an extra dimension which the side otherwise lacks.
With the help of these reinforcements the away side will win if they play anywhere near their best. Though that is far from a guarantee.