This Saturday, Southampton take on Cardiff City at St Mary’s. The fixture will kick off at 3.07 as all fixtures begin 7 minutes later in memory of the Hillsborough disaster. The game comes with Cardiff desperately in need of points, but Southampton safe and with nothing to play for except maintaining their 8th position. Some of Southampton’s players are playing for World Cup spots however, so the game is sure to be an extremely competitive one.
The Saints have had a mixed bag of results in their last six games. The form guide reads that they have won three and lost three, but those three losses have come to teams above them in the table. Southampton have generally done well against the teams below them in the league, so they will believe they can get a good result. Cardiff will still be reeling from their 3-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace last week. That loss made their chances of staying up extremely slim, but a win against Southampton would give them belief going into the final few games.
Southampton will be without their leading scorer Jay Rodriguez after it was confirmed this week that he has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. They are also without Gaston Ramirez (Ankle) and Mayo Yoshida (Knee). Saints are also without first choice keeper Artur Boruc (Back) and second choice keeper Kelvin Davis (Back). Paulo Gazzaniga is expected to again deputise in between the sticks.
Cardiff have received the news that winger Craig Noone will be out for the rest of the season with an abdominal injury. They will also be without fullback Fabio and midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, who are both suffering from knocks. Defender Mark Hudson continues to be out with a hamstring injury.
When the teams last met on Boxing Day, it was their first ever meeting in the Premier League. It was also the first time that the two teams have met in the highest tier of English football. The Saints ran out 3-0 winners. Jay Rodriguez was on the score sheet twice that day, but the England international will be missing for this fixture after his injury last weekend. Southampton have scored four goals in consecutive league games. Cardiff’s last win came more than a month ago on the 8th March. Since that game they have scored seven goals in four games without gaining a victory. This is due to the fact that they have conceded 14 goals in those four games.
Rickie Lambert has had another good season in the Premier League. Although he is currently four goals off the 15 he reached in the league last season, Lambert has not suffered from “second season syndrome” like so many strikers do. Lambert’s return of 11 league goals is a credible one and is aided by the fact that he has contributed 10 assists, all of which have come from open play. This a remarkable statistic for any player, and Lambert has shown how good his all round play is. He is one of Southampton’s most incisive players as he as the most Penalty-Area entry passes for Saints this season with 102. He has also attempted the most through balls with 25.
Lambert has a decent record against the Bluebirds in the past. He has scored twice and contributed two assists in his three appearances against them. In his last game against Cardiff, Lambert managed to get on the score sheet and get an assist. With the World Cup fast approaching, Lambert will want to put on some excellent displays in his last few club games to give himself the best chance of going to Brazil.
Whilst many of Cardiff’s players have been under-performing, Jordon Mutch has been a bright spark for the team in recent weeks. The former Birmingham City man has managed to score seven goals this season, including three goals in his last three games. Mutch has established himself as a regular under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, starting the last five games as the Bluebirds attempt to stay up. His seven goals have been complemented by five assists, and he has created a chance every 62 minutes for his team. Mutch has also worked hard for his team as he has put in 40 tackles this season with a success rate of 85%. This tenacity adds to the attacking threat that he has shown this season for the Bluebirds.
If Mutch is able to keep his scoring run going, he could be the difference needed to gain his team some important points in Cardiff’s final few games. He has scored three times this season to put his side 1-0 in the lead. The rest will be down to Cardiff’s defence to hold any advantage they are given.
It is sure to be an exciting encounter. There have been a combined 32 goals in the two teams’ last three Premier League outings, so this is unlikely to be a cagey affair. Solskjaer has often adopted very attacking teams of late, so it will be interesting to see how he goes in this fixture. Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has his philosophy that is now engrained into his players. It will be interesting to see how they fair without the reliable Jay Rodriguez. A 3-1 Southampton win is my prediction for this one.