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Saints v The Black Cats - The Big Match Preview

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Sam Allardyce targeted at least four points from the Crystal Palace and Southampton games at the start of the week - following the draw at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night, his side now have to go to a place we were beaten 8-0 last season and take away a win.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Kick Off: Saturday 5th March 2016, 3pm

Venue: St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England

Last Season: Southampton 8-0 SAFC: Vergini (12 og), Pellè (18, 69), Cork (37), Bridcutt (63 og), Tadic (78), Wanyama (79), van Aanholt (86 og)

Odds: Home: 3/5 Away: 6/1 Draw: 16/5

Sunderland's games are not getting any easier. Now that Bournemouth and Swansea seem to have created a boundary between themselves and the bottom four, survival is looking increasingly difficult and it would be safe to assume that two of ourselves, Newcastle and Norwich will be joining Aston Villa in the Championship next season.

Sunderland keep putting on great performances, but is it enough? We were ahead against Crystal Palace and threw away yet another lead. We cannot stop conceding goals, and the nature that we allow teams to score is quite frankly pathetic. Connor Wickham's second on Tuesday is the latest in a long line of goals we've conceded as a result of poor defensive play. Facing facts, our defensive issues just aren't going to go away.

As a result, we need to score at least twice if we are to take anything from a game these days. Southampton, on their own patch, are a formidable side on their day and if we are to take anything from this match we need to be at our absolute best. It's a decent time to play the Saints when you weigh everything up - Victor Wanyama is suspended again, and their two best forwards are injured and won't play.

We are our own worst enemy, as shown against Palace. The whole fiasco surrounding Adam Johnson has completely taken the focus off our relegation battle, and it's been an utterly disgusting week for the football club. We need a win now more than ever to lift the spirits of a discontented fan base.

Match Appointments

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (replaced Kevin Friend)

Assistants: P Kirkup & H Lennard

Fourth Official: N Swarbrick

Team News

Sunderland:

Following his impressive contributions towards the end of the Palace game, Fabio Borini is expected to start ahead of Dame N'Doye who, despite scoring, was largely poor on Tuesday night.

Jan Kirchhoff is expected to start despite being withdrawn early from that match due to fatigue, while Lee Cattermole is out as he recovers from a concussion. John O'Shea is touch and go, and should he miss out he'll be replaced by Younes Kaboul.

Jeremain Lens and Duncan Watmore remain absent.

Southampton

As noted above, Victor Wanyama is seeing out a five match ban following his third red card of the season, so won't play. Shane Long and Charlie Austin both picked up injuries midweek against Bournemouth and won't be available, so Ronald Koeman is expected to name Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic in their place.

Form

Sunderland - DLDWLD

1 Mar 2016 - Sunderland 2-2 Cystal Palace

27 Feb 2016 - West Ham United 1-0 Sunderland

13 Feb 2016 - Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United

06 Feb 2016 - Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

02 Feb 2016 - Sunderland 0-1 Manchester City

23 Jan 2016 - Sunderland 1-1 AFC Bournemouth

Southampton - WDWWLL

01 Mar 2016 - AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Southampton

27 Feb 2016 - Southampton 1-2 Chelsea

13 Feb 2016 - Swansea City 0-1 Southampton

06 Feb 2016 - Southampton 1-0 West Ham United

02 Feb 2016 - Arsenal 0-0 Southampton

23 Jan 2016 - Manchester United 0-1 Southampton

Fan Focus

Rory Fallow spoke to Freddie from 'The Ugly Inside' this week to go over tomorrow's game:

I can't see eight goals again in this one again, the reverse fixture proved it can be tricky against you with us only sneaking a 1-0 win. But I think the players will be fired up for this one in a fixture on-paper is a winnable game.

I will call a 2-0 home victory to the Saints.

Manager Craic

Sam Allardyce on the relegation battle:

When you look at the table now, there’s no point in hiding it – there are four of us cut adrift. Villa are struggling, but the other three of us have got 24 points and the nearest after that is 30-point Swansea.

We have to get at least two wins on the trot to catch Swansea now, with 10 games to go. And that’s in the hope that Swansea lose two games on the trot.

The way Swansea are performing at the moment, they probably wouldn’t do that.

Last Season's Corresponding Fixture

Head To Head

07 Nov 2015 - Sunderland 0-1 Southampton

02 May 2015 - Sunderland 2-1 Southampton

18 Oct 2014 - Southampton 8-0 Sunderland

18 Jan 2014 - Sunderland 2-2 Southampton

24 Aug 2013 - Southampton 1-1 Sunderland

12 May 2013 - Sunderland 1-1 Southampton

22 Dec 2012 - Southampton 0-1 Sunderland

Prediction

We really, really need a win. The players are trying their best, but do they have it in them to go somewhere and just make sure we take three points? I'm not so sure.

By hook or by crook we need to leave the south coast tomorrow evening with three points. If we have to pick up yellow cards, throw our heads in the way and score one in off someone's arse then lets do it. Playing pretty football at this stage is pointless.

The way things are going this season in the Premier League I wouldn't count against anything. I fancy us to nick a win - and a clean sheet. There, I said it.