The Manager - Oof, he's cross!
Southampton boss Claude Puel says his side are angry. Angry and hurt and humiliated - no doubt at suffering their sixth loss in seven Premier League games last weekend against West Ham.
The Frenchman, who is finding himself under a little pressure, is expecting a reaction from his stuttering side at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. The fixture represents Southampton's last game before the EFL Cup final which takes place in a fortnight, so some of the visitor's players will surely have a point to prove.
But, the former Nice boss says his side have turned nasty as he brings his floundering squad up north to face David Moyes and his men tomorrow:
The squad is angry with the last results. We have to correct this and give a good answer. We have to keep a good ambition. We cannot accept this position and the last results. It's not us.
And it's not really 'them' at all is it? But with Sunderland showing signs of improvement, there's no better time to play Southampton and Puel is wary of facing the ultimate never-say-die club:
Sunderland have confidence from their last result. We will need to show strong character.
The two sides played out a goal-a-piece-draw at St Marys in August in about the nearest thing to a 'highlight' we got in our record-breaking poor start to the campaign. For the reverse fixture this Saturday, shirt-sleeves will be swapped for big coats as Southampton arrive at the coldest stadium in the Premier League.
The Player - Oriol Romeu says Southampton aren't feeling good
In contrast to Puel's fighting talk, Saints' midfielder Oriol Romeu has suggested there has been something wrong with his red-and-white teammates of late, and already sounds over-awed at the prospect of facing a home side in red-and-white who are still buzzing off last weekend. The Spaniard told Southamptonfc.com:
We haven't felt very good playing the last games, and also playing away we haven't played our best football, so it will be tough, because they [Sunderland] need those three points.
But, poor Romeu just wants to have a little fun and get that cheeky smile back on Saints' faces at Wembley in two weeks' time:
If we want to enjoy the league, if we want to play much better football then we need to start winning games and to have the confidence back.
If we can win the next two games it will be something very nice and we could also carry on for the rest of the season.
Bless his cotton stripey socks.
The Southern Daily Echo is the source of our fan-based view this week. The Hampshire-based daily rag has a quaint old feature called 'Readers Letters' in which sedate southerners can vent their angst with the world of Southampton.
One caught our eye from a 'Mr C of Hythe'. Mr C has a point to prove, an Excel spreadsheet and a bit too much time on his hands. He's not happy with Saints fans who have been criticising their side's progress this season:
Since the start of the season I have been keeping a spreadsheet...[blathers on]...comparing the actual corresponding fixtures against the individual teams (substituting the three relegated teams for the three promoted ones) and compared the actual fixtures, rather than the number of fixtures we have played.
Sounds good eh? And Mr C goes on...
To say one season when we won our first 10 games against the three promoted teams and seven mid/bottom of the table teams is incomparable if the next season our first 10 games are against the ‘top teams’ and we lose them all.
Good point that. Now reaching the point of his argument, Mr C explains that he's merely seeking to address Southampton fans who are claiming their club isn't doing as well this season as it was last. In fact, he's pretty angry about that assertion:
I just wanted to put my thoughts across regarding Saints’ season to date, mainly as I have so often read others’ opinions and the one thing that pops up is ‘we're only X points off from the same amount of fixtures last season’ – a comparison which in my opinion means absolutely nothing.
Well said Mr C. Not enough football fans put pen to paper these days to bring the results of their spreadsheet to life in the pages of a local newspaper. This should be good eh, probably prove a few points here with his Excel sheet. In fact, I dare bet he has some whistles-and-bells on the go with this one - probably even some conditional formatting - it's like magic that stuff. Here goes, here's the conclusion - stick this in your pipe dissenting Saints fans:
At no point this season have we actually been as good as we were last season, comparing the teams fixtures – at best we were possibly a win away from equalling it.
However, poor results have put an end to that. As it stands now, I have us at being seven points worse off than last season
Eurgh. Pretty grotty then. After all that, Mr C is like a Crap Mr T.
But anyway, so there's a Southampton fan right there declaring his side is crap this season compared with last. And not just declaring it - but proving it with stats and spreadsheets. We really have nothing to fear - Excel says so. Haway the lads.