The Southampton fans are feeling nervous in the Transfer Tavern ahead of one of their biggest fixtures of the season so far when they face Stoke City later today.
Mauricio Pellegrino welcomes Paul Lambert and his Stoke City side to Saint Mary’s this afternoon for a six-pointer clash which could make or break both sides bid to remain in the top-flight this season. As things stand, there is just 1 point separating the two sides who both find themselves deep in a relegation scrap with just 10 fixtures remaining to save themselves from the drop.
Southampton are marginally ahead of Stoke on 27 points, so the importance of achieving a victory today cannot be expressed highly enough. When a team is fighting for survival it is often the fixtures against the teams around them which prove to be the most important, and Pellegrino should be making that point abundantly clear to his players before they step onto the field of play this afternoon.
The Argentine manager will be calling on all eleven of his players to deliver a performance which proves they are worthy of playing Premier League football next season, but he will be particularly eager to see Guido Carrillo (valued at £5.4 million by Transfermarkt) finally get off the mark for his new club. The 26-year-old was the only man to arrive at the club during the mid-season window, and so far he has impressed the majority of supporters with his performances.
The Saints struck late on to salvage an equaliser in controversial circumstances against Burnley at Turf Moor last weekend after Carrillo headed the ball down for Manolo Gabbiadini to slam home. Southampton’s equaliser marked the former Monaco employee’s first assist in The Premier League, but he must go one better and provide the finishing touches himself today to ensure his side clinch a priceless victory in their fight for survival.
Although the pressure to succeed should not solely revolve around goal-scoring, ultimately, Carrillo is a striker, and strikers will always be judged primarily on their record in-front of goal. The early indications suggest Carrillo will prove to be a positive signing for the club, but he must begin adding goals to his game in order to truly justify why Southampton parted with £19 million to secure his services in January, starting today against Stoke.
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