The 5 Most Winnable Games Left for Southampton This Season
For a few minutes last Saturday, Southampton looked destined to give Mauricio Pochettino his first victory as manager of the Saints and to gain three vital points in the table.
That possibility came crashing down when Wigan's Shaun Maloney tapped in a loose ball in the 90th minute to give the Latics a late equalizer.
With 13 matches to go, Southampton sit in 16th place in the Premier League table, just three points and a few goals above 18th-place Wigan, who sit in the final relegation spot. Saints currently have 24 points, about 16 short of what will be needed to safely survive the drop at the end of the season.
The fastest way to gain 16 points is to win five games and get a draw somewhere. Here are the five most winnable games left on Southampton's fixture list this season.
5) April 6: Away vs. Reading
The match against Reading is the most winnable remaining road game for Southampton this season. With the Royals sitting one spot behind the Saints in 17th place, it is a vital game for Mauricio Pochettino's squad.
The Madejski Stadium has been anything but a fortress this season for opposing teams. Reading have only won 4 of 13 Premier League matches and have a negative goal-differential, minus-two, at home.
Last season, Southampton earned a point in their visit to the Madejski. The Saints will hope to repeat the result from earlier this season, when Jason Puncheon scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for Southampton.
4) April 27: Home vs. West Bromwich Albion
For a team currently in the top half of the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion haven't shown much strength in their road games.
The Baggies have only earned 11 of their 34 points on the road, winning just three games out of 12. The West Brom defense is also less stout on the road. In their 13 home games, Steve Clarke's men have only conceded 12 goals, less than one per match.
Away from home, the amount almost doubles. West Brom have conceded 23 goals in their 12 away games, winning just three of those games.
A victory in this fixture is certainly possible for a Southampton squad that have earned 14 of their 24 points on the turf at St. Mary's.
3) April 13: Home vs. West Ham United
A team like 11th-place West Ham United doesn't seem like the easiest side to get three points off of. But a closer examination of the Hammers proves that the difference between the Upton Park version of West Ham and the travelling version is night and day.
At home, West Ham are quite formidable. Six wins and 22 points from 13 home games is certainly a great total for a team promoted from the nPower Championship via the playoffs.
On the road, Sam Allardyce's men seem to completely lose the plot. With only two wins and a minus-15 goal differential on their travels, West Ham are quite capable of putting together a less-than-spectacular display away from home.
Last season, Southampton won the fixture at St. Mary's 1-0. The Saints need to duplicate that result, and not the 4-1 loss to West Ham earlier this season.
2) May 19: Home vs. Stoke City
On the surface, this match with Stoke City looks to be a challenging way to close the season. The Potters currently sit 10th in the Premier League with 30 points.
But Stoke City are a different team away from the Britannia Stadium. At home, the West Midlands club have only lost once, taking 21 points in 12 matches. On the road, the Potters have only won once, collecting nine points in 13 matches.
The stakes for both teams will likely be very different as well. Stoke City will likely have little to play for on the last day of the season, being assured of a mid-table finish. Southampton may have plenty at stake, and may need to pull off another great escape to stay in the Premier League.
If Southampton need the three points, they will certainly be there for the taking.
1) March 2: Home vs. Queens Park Rangers
When you get the team at the bottom of the table at home, you have to win that game.
Southampton fans are keen to remember that it was Harry Redknapp who was at the helm when the Saints were relegated to the Championship back in 2005, and would like nothing better than to see Redknapp suffer the same fate with Queens Park Rangers.
Southampton have already dispatched QPR 3-1 at Loftus Road in November. Anything less than that when the two teams meet at St. Mary's in March would be a great disappointment to Saints' fans.