It’s been a season of ups and downs for Southampton.
The Saints have won six games in cup competitions this term, although that’s as many as they’ve managed through their opening 26 league matches. The board finally gave in to the fans’ demands and got rid of Ralph Hasenhuttl but replaced him with Nathan Jones who didn’t even have time to get his hands on the club’s table tennis table before he was sacked.
One rather large negative is the team’s current status as the Premier League’s bottom side. However, Southampton are just three points adrift of safety with 11 games of the campaign left to play.
Here’s what lies ahead for Southampton as they try to end the season on the up by not going down.
No team has needed to break the mythical 40-point tally to stay in the Premier League since West Ham were relegated with a total of 42 in 2003.
Across the last ten seasons, teams have needed an average of 35 points to remain in England’s top flight – although, Burnley did drop into the Championship after collecting that many last season.
After 26 games of the current campaign, Southampton have accrued 22 points – a surprisingly high total for a team at the foot of the table this late into the year. In order to rack up 35 points, the Saints would have to average slightly more than one draw per game (1.1 points) from their remaining dozen outings.
After clocking in at 0.85 points per game through the first seven months of the season, Southampton would need an uptick in results but not an earth-shattering improvement.
West Ham v Southampton
Southampton return from the March international break with a crucial clash away to one of the few teams that have dropped points during their trip to St. Mary’s.
The Saints are the only Premier League team that have fared better on the road than their home ground this season and will be targeting more points against 17th-placed West Ham after holding the east Londoners to a 1-1 draw on the south coast in October.
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace and Southampton bookend the relegation scrap at either end of the Premier League’s bottom nine which are separated by just five points.
James Ward-Prowse and Wilfried Zaha will be able to renew rivalries in a high-stakes affair which is likely to see more than just those two old enemies scrap it out.
Southampton v Bournemouth
Certain fans (Portsmouth fans) are quick to stress this fixture is not the south coast derby. However, whatever rivalries exist will surely be heightened given the perilious positioning of both clubs.
Bournemouth managed to beat Liverpool and were seconds away from earning a point at the home of the Premier League leaders Arsenal but continue to reside in the relegation zone. Southampton have taken Chelsea’s scalp home and away but both need to perform against their closest rivals to get themselves out of this mire.
Nottingham Forest v Southampton
In the final month of the season, Southampton are scheduled to face three members of the Premier League’s current top eight. Their last fixture against one of their relegation rivals comes against Nottingham Forest at the start of May.
While Southampton have desperately struggled in front of their home fans, Forest transform into a completely different team when roared on by the City Ground crowd. Yet, the club’s first Premier League victory on the road in the 21st century came at Southampton’s St. Mary’s in January.
With Forest’s fervent home fans cheering them on, it will be a tough task for Southampton to avoid another defeat.