A 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend has surely alleviated fears of relegation for Southampton fans, right?
The arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl in December has undeniably led to a marked improvement for the Saints following a dismal start to their Premier League campaign under former boss Mark Hughes.
Impressive displays against the likes of Spurs and Arsenal at St. Mary’s Stadium have been backed up by promising performances on their travels against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks.
Yet despite their results against the Premier League’s traditional top six sides, Southampton have struggled to replicate their form against teams who are also threatened by relegation as illustrated by their recent 2-1 loss at home to Cardiff City.
With his side currently 16th in the league standings and just two points above the relegation zone, Hassenhuttl will know that a defeat on their travels against Brighton & Hove Albion on March 30th could see them fall back into the danger zone.
Although the Championship is hardly unfamiliar territory for the Saints giving the fact that they have spent five of the last thirteen seasons in the second level of England’s footballing pyramid, a return to that level could see the departure of a whole host of players.
The only way that Southampton could realistically keep a hold of the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand is by remaining in the Premier League and so the next eight games are crucial for the club’s immediate future.
36 points were enough for the Saints to stay up last season yet Hasenhuttl will be aiming for the magic total of 40 which should easily secure survival this year. With his side currently 10 points away from this mark, the former RB Leipzig boss will be targeting games against Brighton, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town as key clashes to achieve their goal.
Whereas a defeat to the Seagulls at the Amex Stadium at the end of March may not prove to be a defining result in Southampton’s season, it could put a big enough dent in their confidence to cause concern amongst supporters.
Hassenhuttl’s future with the club may also be defined by the outcome of this season as relegation to the Championship could bring about the real possibility of him departing from his role at St Mary’s.
What do you think Southampton fans? Do you think your club are too complacent when they face sides outside of the top six? Will you stay up this season? Let us know below…