Southampton 

Premiership 

St Mary’s Stadium

Friday 6th November ‘20 @ 8pm

Live on regular Sly Sports. Not the ‘Dick Turpin’ PPV. 

 

Following a week which brought home a particularly welcome four points versus tough opposition, Bruce and the boys take a long schlep to the South coast this Friday: next up, it’s Ralph Hasenhüttl and his soaring Saints. 

 

Our opponents have come a long way since their calamitous 0-9 Leicester reverse about a year ago. That the manager survived this embarrassing disaster was an eye opener. But, fair play to the Southampton board. They knew they had a good ‘un, and stood by their man. 

 

They’ll come into this one absolutely bouncing, following a most recent run of three Prem wins (Palace, Everton & Villa) and a draw (Chelsea). Amongst a host of impressive players, their jewel in the crown is Danny Ings. Whilst we spunked £40 mill on a ‘striker’ who’d never scored many, they gobbled up the chance to take the PL battle hardened, tattooed terror on to their books full time. This followed a successful loan spell from Liverpool, and at £18M I know I wasn’t the only Mag saying “Erm, why aren’t we having a nibble at that?” Hey, what do we know? At the time of writing, he’s doubtful for our match, and his absence would be an obvious bonus for us. 

Whether their talismanic number 9 (™ Anal Oliver – ask ya fatha) makes it or not, the Saints still have plenty of other quality to offer. Danish defender, Jannik Vestergaard has made a big impact this season at both ends of the pitch, and Torily named James Ward-Prowse comes into this one fresh from putting Aston Vile to the sword with a superb two goal show. Make no mistake, this game’s in the ‘Toughie Taylor’ bracket. 

 

What of the Mags? Put it this way, with a few minutes to go at Molineux, a goal down and playing rather dismally, if someone had offered you a win & a draw from that one and Everton, hands would’ve been ‘snapped off’ in gay abandon. I labelled Mr Bruce a ‘loser’ in my last preview, so it’s only fair I redress the balance when he’s done a decent job. 

 

In the second half particularly, v the Toffees his 3-5-2 looked potent. We created some great chances on the break and looked really solid defensively. Calvert-Lewin’s late intervention arrived from a cross that hit a spawny deflection, so no blame can be attributed there. Going forward, but for a wonder save by the stand-in Olsen (from Longa), we’d have been home and hosed much earlier. 

 

Rafa perfected this art at St James’ and I’ve often wondered why Bruce doesn’t use the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ a little more often. He got it right on Sunday; let’s see how long he keeps it set up this way. 

 

Any road, what are our chances this Friday? 

We’re up against an astute coach and a team in superb form. A week or so ago, I’d have given us little chance, but I feel some confidence in our ability to at least make it a tight affair. That said, our opponents will rightly be strong favourites. I think a rather jaded looking ASM may make way for Fraser. I also think it’s ‘odds on’ that he’ll keep the same formation. I think it’ll be close, but I’m going to plump for a 1-2 reverse. 

 

Prove me wrong, Callum lad. 

 

Nick Clark 

@Clark5Nick