St Mary’s Stadium, 16:15 Saturday
Sunday serves up a key match in the battle for Champions League qualification, with Southampton welcoming Liverpool to St Mary’s Stadium for the third successive season since returning to the Premier League. The 4th-placed hosts hold a 4 point advantage over the Reds – who occupy 7th – and have a significantly better goal difference. A formidable autumn schedule saw Ronald Koeman’s side endure poor form but they’ve recovered well over the last two months; having lost just once in 9 league matches, they’ve taken 10 points from their last five. Visitors Liverpool have also enjoyed a good couple of months; theirs off the back of a very poor start to the campaign – they’ve lost just once in their last twenty matches (over ninety minutes) and have taken 13 points from their last five. Both the Saints and Brendan Rodgers’ side are fighting a common battle, with many perceiving 3rd and 4th – Champions League qualification – to be a five-way battle; Manchester United and Arsenal travel to Swansea City and Crystal Palace respectively, whilst Tottenham Hotspur host rivals West Ham United on Sunday. Such a selection of fixtures suggest that points for any of the sides in the top-four battle will be hard-fought this weekend; as such, supporters of both Southampton and Liverpool will be aware that 3 points would likely represent great gains in what looks set to be a battle fought deep into May.
You reached the 2003 FA Cup Final and enjoyed back-to-back promotions between 2010 and 2012, but would European qualification make 2014/15 your most enjoyable campaign in generations?
Ben: “Don’t forget winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2010! On a serious note, I’d have to say that yes, this is the most enjoyable season I have ever witnessed in 28 years. We threw first place in League 1 and the Championship away to Brighton and Reading respectively which took some of the gloss off and we find ourselves in a similar situation now regarding European qualification: having been in and around 3rd/4th spot for the majority of the campaign to blow it now and end up in the Europa League would be a serious anti-climax. How times change eh?! I was able to see Saints play in the UEFA Cup back in 03/04 but we were knocked out in the first round by Steaua Bucharest, at least the Europa League would give us a few more European nights/away days. On any level, bearing in mind the media’s obsession with ‘a meltdown’ and my own pessimistic predictions at the start of the season, this has been one to remember.”
Southampton supporters seemed broadly pleased with the appointment of Ronald Koeman – what have you learned about him since?
…Continued at: http://www.theredmentv.com/blog/p/15977
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