Onto Southampton, their season has been rather topsy-turvy, but they have managed to gain some momentum and have created a gap between themselves and the drop zone. Having taken points from Swansea, Reading, QPR, Liverpool, and Manchester City this season, Saints fans can be quietly confident of survival this season. The sacking of Nigel Adkins drew a dark cloud over the club and left fans worried about the current situation and how things at the club would change. If anything, they have changed for the better.
Southampton brought in the unknown Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager, and quite frankly, it has worked, as they have picked up two huge wins over Manchester City and Liverpool to pull away from the pack at the bottom. Those wins are Pochettino’s only victories since taking charge at St. Mary’s, but they have also gone on to pick up draws despite losing a few on the way as well.
The key players for them this season have been Gaston Ramirez, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, and Morgan Schniederlin. Rickie Lambert has been praised highly of many a fan this season, with him being the top English goal scorer in the division and having worked his way from the bottom tier of English league football, you could say he deserves a break like this.
Pochettino brought a new style to Southampton, and they now look like they play more fluent football and have a bigger physical presence. This, along with their fantastic attitude to every game, could see them reaching light at the end of the tunnel.
Sunderland are a team that haven’t really got going at all this season, they have had a few wins now and then but have failed to gather any momentum and have now been sucked into this relegation battle. Martin O’Neill has been in charge for around 18 months now and you’d think he would have got the players all on the same wavelength, but really, it’s the opposite.
The players don’t seem to have a true understanding of each other’s game, which is the main reason they can’t put in a full team performance for 90 minutes, and it all fizzles out for them. When they picked up the win again Manchester City at the Stadium of Light back on Boxing Day, courtesy of an Adam Johnson strike, Sunderland fans would have thought their team might have kicked on from there.
But, with them being without a win in the last 7 games, things are starting to look bleak for Martin O’Neill’s men, and they could find themselves in big trouble really quickly if they don’t find a win anytime soon.
Finally, Wigan, the side who always find themselves in a relegation battle but somehow always get out of it. This is down to Roberto Martinez’s style and philosophy. They always struggle for wins in the first half of the season, but at the turn of the year they find their form and go on a run of wins and draws to drag themselves out of the bottom three.
With them being the most experienced side in this situation, it is difficult to say that they won’t be able to get out of it again. They have managed to pick up 8 points from their last 6 games and are in a good run of form. Striker Aruna Kone has begun to find the net when it is really required most. Also, youngster Callum McManaman has become a star figure in the Wigan side over recent weeks and has had a very positive impact on the squad, also netting a few of his own.
With their style, experience and belief, their fans and many neutrals will only think that the Great Escape is on yet again for Wigan, and Roberto Martinez can mastermind his way to an even higher profile than what he has now.
In saying all of this, none of the bottom 10 are truly safe, as one slip up can be very costly, especially going into the final 9 games of the season, where all teams will be playing their hearts out and doing everything possible in order to pick up those vital points. All teams from Fulham and below all need to start doing something quickly, otherwise we may see one of the tightest relegation battles ever and it could very well go down to the final day of the season to determine who stays up and who goes down. It truly will be a survival of the fittest.
Written by OneFutbol