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Fan Focus: Time To Catch Up With Those Saints...Again!

Welcome to Southampton fan focus...part IV! This time around we got the thoughts and views of Saints fan and blogger Sean Gonzalez-Lambert.

Laurence Griffiths
This the fourth meeting between Sunderland and Southampton this season; what's your take on the previous three encounters?

Sean Gonzalez-Lambert: I feel we should have won both of the league meetings. In the first, Sunderland did defend really well and thankfully for us, José Fonte rescued a point for us. There is no doubt about it that we deserved to lose in the League Cup tie as we didn't put out our strongest team which was disappointing for me personally at the time. It was also frustrating to the let a two-goal lead slip away from home but it goes to show that if you don't take your chances, the opposition probably will which is exactly what happened.

When the sides met in the League Cup, Pochettino put out a second string side. Should we expect similar for this FA Cup tie or do you think Saints' comfortable league position will allow him to "go for it" in this competition?

S G-L: As I said, it was disappointing when I found out the team news for that tie back in November. We didn't play well at all that night and I felt sorry for our fans who travelled a long way to watch that. I feel that Pochettino will field a much stronger eleven this time around as he has described the game as an "important match" which is good to see. We can definitely go far in the FA Cup this season and to progress to the quarter-finals would be a great achievement along with the season that we've had in the league so far. The Europa League is still a possibility for us but whatever happens, it has been a fantastic season for Southampton especially as it is our second season back in the Premier League.

What sort of form are Southampton in at the moment?

S G-L: We are currently in the form that we started the season with after a tough set of fixtures in the past couple of months. We are unbeaten in eight matches in league (six) and cup (two) and playing some great football which has been a massive success since Pochettino took over last January.

Dani Osvaldo's departure was the big story of Saints' January transfer window. For all his talent, he didn't seem to contribute a great deal before headbutting a team mate. Will he be much of a miss?

S G-L: When Osvaldo arrived at the club, everybody knew of his problems with his temper at Roma after he punched Erik Lamela, who's now at Tottenham, in the face. However, with the chance of working with Pochettino, like he did at Espanyol, we all thought that the Argentine coach would get the best out of Osvaldo. When I saw the Italian play, there were glimpses of what he can do in terms of ball control and skill but it was clear to see that he struggled with a new life in England.

It was a complete disgrace what he did to José Fonte at the training ground. There was no need for it at all and it was best for Osvaldo and the club that he moved to Juventus in January. Don't expect him to play in a Southampton shirt again as I definitely wouldn't let him if I was Pochettino!

We've seen enough of Southampton this season to get an idea of how they play and it seems very much that the team is more important than the individual; is that a fair assessment?

S G-L: Absolutely. That is the Southampton way. It's always about the team as a whole and they have performed exceptionally well this season, including getting impressive results such as the victory at Liverpool and the draw at Old Trafford. Everybody, including those who have now left the club, has definitely played their part in getting the club back into the Premier League so the fans can continue to celebrate the rise of the club including this season.

Obviously Pochettino has individual talent at his disposal too. I'm a big fan of Jay Rodriguez, who has really surprised me with how good he's been at this level. Do you have any particular favourites?

S G-L: Jay Rodriguez has been in fantastic form this season. He was a slow starter when he first arrived in the summer of 2012. However, he has thrived under Pochettino which he was rewarded with an England call-up along with Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. Lallana has been sensational. He is another who is thriving under the current regime and is one of many players to have come through our academy. In my mind, he has to go to the World Cup and I'm sure a lot of people around the country would agree with me.

I've always been a fan of Lambert too and he deserved his call-up against Scotland and scored the winner which was incredible. Dejan Lovren has been a terrific signing for us and is just what we needed with a lot of experience at the back despite being only 24. Morgan Schneiderlin is another player that I love watching and was voted the players' and fans' player of the year. He should be in the French World Cup squad in my opinion and if he isn't, Didier Deschamps should be ashamed!

Any players you don't particularly rate?

S G-L: I have to say that Dutch defender Jos Hooiveld isn't up to Premier League standard at all. I understand that he lost his place to Lovren this season, but he has made countless mistakes that have cost us. He was vital for us in the Championship but the Premier League is a whole new level. Danny Fox is another one who I don't rate at all with his awful positioning and is very easy to get past. However, he has now moved on to Nottingham Forest.

Aside from the two games he's taken charge of against Southampton, have you seen much of Sunderland since Poyet took over? How well do you think he's done?

S G-L: I have seen quite a few of Sunderland's matches since Gus Poyet took over. We came up against the Uruguayan in League One and the Championship so we already know what his management style was like before he went to the Stadium of Light. He likes to get the ball down, just like we do, and it's clear to see that there has been change in terms of the style from Sunderland. He's brought the likes of Phil Bardsley and Adam Johnson back into the fold which has been working him a treat. The latter has been in great form in the past month with an outside chance of going to Brazil, who knows? Poyet has guided the club to the Capital One Cup Final which is a fantastic achievement for the club, giving the season that they're having in the league.

It's hard to predict who will go down this season but Sunderland have a very good manager in their hands in Gus Poyet.

Anyone from our side you particularly fear?

S G-L: Adam Johnson is probably the biggest threat from Sunderland. As I said, he was in the darkness under Paolo Di Canio but is coming back to his best under Poyet. As he showed in the last game between the two sides, he come inside onto either foot and have a shot on goal and also brings a lot of experience to the team.

Finally, a prediction please...

S G-L: My prediction is: Sunderland 1-2 Southampton

Thanks to Sean for giving us an update on the Saints ahead of this weekend's cup tie. Check him out on Twitter @SeanGL_SFC_5 and have a read of his blog over at And It's All Southampton FC!