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FAN FOCUS: The Ugly Inside Talk Southampton v SAFC

Rory Fallow caught up with Freddie from The Ugly Inside to discuss this weekend's game.

Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Southampton may have been inconsistent in the early part of the season but things have settled down now and you're in a comfortable 9th place position. What's the general feelings among the fans regarding your domestic performance?

We're sitting comfortable in the top half of the table but I believe our ambition is greater than ninth.

We were only a couple of points away from Man United in fifth place last week before the back-to-back losses at home to Chelsea and away to Bournemouth. We have realistic ambitions to achieve a Europa League spot but the general feelings around the stands are positive.

January and first three weeks of February were tremendous for us with Forster returning and completing six clean sheets in a row and a club record of minutes without conceding. That string of results really bought the positivity back in to the fans and the team as a whole and I would say the confidence is still there despite the recent losses.

You bowed out of the Europa League in the early stages, how much of a disappointment was that or was qualifying in the first place the main achievement?

It was somewhat disappointing to bow out at the early stages before the competition really got going but you're right the achievement itself was qualifying especially after nearly all the pundits and other clubs had written us off at the beginning of that season after the exodus of players.

Ultimately, the fans experienced an amazing few days away on the continent which was our first European tour since 2003 but we hope we won't have to wait another thirteen years for another European fixture.

Outsiders are often envious of the young players Southampton produce, who do you think will be the next one to break through?

We've seen some amazing players come through the academy in the last ten years at Southampton with the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all gone on to play at the top level.

One of our latest academy graduates is James Ward-Prowse. It's hard to believe that he is only twenty-one and has already played for us over one hundred times, and we hope that he will have a long career with us.

However, our latest graduate that has only recently emerged as a first team regular is Matt Targett. Since Ronald Koeman has decided to change the system, Matt has slotted nicely into the left wing back position. He's had some good performances recently, setting up a couple of goals and also bagging his first ever Player of the Month award for January. We can expect to see a lot more of Matt if Ronald continues to play the wing back system.

Can you see Ronald Koeman being poached or do you see him at Southampton for the long term?

The thing is with Ronald he does not like to talk about his future beyond his contract.

He signed a three year deal and is half way through it at the moment. Having said that, he is not a manager to avoid a question, he likes to tell it how it is and recently when questioned about his future he dismissed the reporter and was straight to the point in telling him he is not going anywhere whilst he is still under contract.

Obviously I think a lot of us fans would like to see him stay beyond his contract and we certainly hope he does if we qualify for Europe next season and maybe even go on to progress even further.

We all know what happened in this fixture last season and it was the beginning of the end of Gus Poyet. For Southampton though, just how big was an emphatic win like that? It really seemed to boost the whole club.

It was an amazing win, no one expected us to score eight goals. It completely lifted the entire team and the fans and installed belief in the squad to push on that season. It was one of those 'I was there' moments that will forever go down in history.

Are there any Sunderland players you're particularly fearful of?

In particular for me I would say Jermain Defoe and the new signing Wahbi Khazri. We all know what Jermain Defoe can do and he is a proven goalscorer at Premier League level, he will always be a threat and has the ability to carve a goal out of nothing.

Okay, his pace is not what it used to be but he is able to score from anywhere near the eighteen yard box and we have to be careful and ensure we eliminate his threats out of the game on Saturday. I have seen a few games of Khazri since signing in January and seems like a skilful and nippy player that can wriggle through. He has the ability to whip a cross from a dead ball and we must keep our concentration so that we do not concede from set pieces.

Who in the Southampton ranks should Sunderland be the most fearful of going into the game?

Based on recent performances I would say it has been a real team effort and is hard to single out an outstanding player with lots of players chipping in for goals and assists. However, based on recent meetings with the two teams you have to say Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic.

Pelle scored two against you when you last visited St Mary's and also Tadic loves a goal against you, chipping in with one in the 8-0 win and also scoring the winner earlier on in the season. Although it has to be said, these two have not been in the best of form recently. Tadic has not started in the last four games, 3 of which he did not emerge off the bench and only got 20 minutes against Bournemouth on Tuesday. Pelle has struggled as of late, having been out with an injury and hasn't scored in the League since November. However, we hope to see the link up play between Tadic and Pelle come to fruition again on Saturday. When they link up well they often find the back of the net.

How do you see yourselves lining up for the game?

Personally, I think it could be a 5-3-2 formation with Cedric and Targett deployed as wing backs however it could be tough one to call, as the 5-3-2 system was not working at Bournemouth and Koeman was not afraid to change it back after thirty minutes at Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Having said that, we have Shane Long and Charlie Austin both ruled out of the game for Saturday Ronald might have to forced into changing back to 4-2-3-1 formation with Pelle as the lone striker.

Finally, a prediction please?

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.

Thanks to Freddie for his time. You can check out The Ugly Inside on YouTube and on Twitter @theuglyinside.

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