Why it is time for Southampton to get European dream back on track, starting against Hull City

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Southampton’s Graziano Pelle cuts a dejected figure during the loss to Everton last weekend (Picture: Reuters)

A home game against struggling Hull City might be just what the doctor ordered after yet another frustrating Goodison Park experience.

I have taken no pleasure in the fact I predicted the Tigers to be relegated some months ago, and ever since they have set about fulfilling my prophecy and have consistently made their way down the table, now just one place and two points above the drop zone.

Having won only two games in twelve, both of which came at the KC Stadium against fellow strugglers, Steve Bruce’s team should pose no threat to today’s opposition, but if any team knows what the threat of top flight demotion can bring out in a team, it’s the Saints.

We were the kings of it for much of the 1990’s.

Hull have suffered a hangover…

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Southampton must learn to put teams at the bottom of the Premier League to bed if they are to secure European football

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Southampton lost at Everton (Picture: Reuters)

We’ve been here before. Saturday’s defeat to Everton was not the first time I have said Southampton were the better side but didn’t take their chances and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Tim Howard’s heroics denying Graziano Pelle and James Ward-Prowse aside, Saints didn’t create enough clear cut chances or trouble the American enough in relation to their dominance and that is an issue for Ronald Koeman to deal with as we head into an important run-in.

To stutter now and not get European football would be a sad end to a fantastic season for Saints, and they must find their goalscoring touch again to make it happen.

It is sod’s law of course that Everton scored with their only real opportunity, and that it would coincide with a rare piece of poor defending from their opponents, but this is the Premier League and…

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Southampton must end Goodison Hoodoo and march on to Europe

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Southampton travel to Everton (Picture: Reuters)

The last time Southampton won in the blue half of Merseyside the winning goals were scored by Matthew Le Tissier and Kevin Davies. Ex-Everton man Dave Jones was in the Saints dugout that day and no manager since has taken three points from Goodison Park.

But this is a season that is yet again heading for record breaking feats for Ronald Koeman’s team and now would be the perfect time to end that winless run at Everton.

On paper this year Saints have more than enough to beat an Everton side who have suffered a huge hangover from finishing fifth in the last campaign. In fact, the impeccable St. Mary’s team behind the scenes will no doubt have cast an eye towards Goodison Park to see what has gone wrong for them, and how they have coped with the demands of the Europa League, after all…

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Roy Hodgson has finally seen sense in handing Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand an England call-up

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Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand has been called up to the England squad (Picture: Getty Images)

Before the England squad was announced there were strong rumours Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand would be included for the first time since 2012.

This was no surprise to the regulars at St. Mary’s, as Bertrand has established himself as one of the most consistent performers in the best defence in the Premier League this season, playing a key role in his side’s chase for European football.

Neutrals were also suggesting the ex-Chelsea man should be there because, on form, this season he has arguably been the best left sided full-back in the league – English or otherwise.

But when the squad was announced last week, Bertrand was a notable absentee.

You might understand that were the competition in his position fierce, but Roy Hodgson called up Leighton Baines (part of an Everton team having a considerably…

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Southampton must beat Burnley and keep the momentum going in their bid for European football

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Southampton’s point at Chelsea will mean nothing if they lose to Burnley (Picture: Reuters)

Saints know their objective for the rest of the season. If they consistently pick up points, as they have done so far (with a couple of minor blips) they will qualify for Europe.

Getting a point at Stamford Bridge last weekend could perhaps be seen as a bonus, but as skipper Jose Fonte has pointed out in the week, lose to Burnley on Saturday and it will have been for nothing.

The chance for Saints to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2003 is great, and were both Arsenal and Liverpool to make it to the cup final, then even greater. But they won’t want to take anything for granted and slip-ups at home to a relegation battler would be nothing short of unacceptable.

Saints have already lost to the Clarets once though this…

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Four Southampton players who should be in Roy Hodgson’s England squad

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Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster could replace Joe Hart as England’s number one (Picture: Getty Images)

When the three Southampton players that went to the World Cup last Summer all left for pastures new on their return from Brazil, you could be forgiven for thinking that that might be the end of the love affair between Roy Hodgson and his favourite 2013-14 haunt at St Mary’s.

Think again.

Rumours spread yesterday that the number of Southampton incumbents in Hodgson’s new squad would be up to three again and with Saints looking to improve on last season’s achievements that is no surprise but who could they be?

1) Fraser Forster

This one is a given, and Saints can’t really take any credit for that as the big keeper was a regular in the squad long before he came to Hampshire. Forster is clearly a talented shot stopper, but for many Saints fans the…

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Mike Dean ‘bottled’ big moment that would have sunk Chelsea against Southampton

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Southampton’s Irish striker Shane Long speaks with referee Mike Dean (Picture: Getty Images)

In my last post I called on referee Mike Dean to be strong in the face of Chelsea’s ‘antics’ and he managed to both pass and fail that request in equal measure.

On the one hand, he did award Southampton a penalty and having watched it at the several angle he doesn’t have the luxury of, it is fair to say that it certainly wasn’t clear cut. In awarding said spot kick he cautioned the ‘offender’ Nemanja Matic, something that would be key to some failure on his part later on.

If giving the visitors at Stamford Bridge a penalty (especially given the controversy surrounding the same decision on his last visit) can be seen as ‘strong’ officiating some of his later calls can certainly be seen as weak.

For starters the behaviour of Branislav Ivanovic is…

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Mike Dean must be strong in the face of Chelsea’s ‘bully boy’ antics against Southampton

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Referee Mike Dean will take charge of Chelsea's home match against Southampton Referee Mike Dean will take charge of Chelsea’s home match against Southampton (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

After the ‘antics’ of the Chelsea players against PSG on Wednesday – their constant need to dive, Diego Costa’s aggressiveness and Jose Mourinho’s relentless psychological pressure – as a Southampton fan, all I can hope for as my team heads to Stamford Bridge on Sunday is a strong referee.

Given the performances of the ‘men in the middle’ so far this season, I held out little hope as I opened the Premier League’s website to find out who must hold their nerve in West London. Come on down, Mike Dean.

This has given me fresh confidence. Dean is the elder statesman of the Premier League’s officials, and one of the few that, on their appointment to a Saints game, my eyes don’t roll around in exaggerated disillusionment.

Dean can handle Mourinho, he can handle the gamesmanship of…

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Why the latest transfer speculation proves Southampton have got people rattled

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 Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with Arsenal (Picture: Reuters)

It sounds like a summer blockbuster, the sequel to last August’s thriller on the South Coast. Exodus 2: The Awakening.

If the British press get their way this time will be bigger and better than the first.

The national press revelled in the exits of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers in the last close season, predicting doom and gloom on the team that had offended them so much with their non-English speaking manager and their ideas above their station; and they have started the ball rolling on the misery all over again.

Pick up any of today’s newspapers and you will find Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, Toby Alderweireld and Jay Rodriguez all being linked to their ‘dream moves’ to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs. This campaign is still 10 games away…

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Southampton must back Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool for FA Cup glory to boost European hopes

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Southampton’s European hopes could hinge on FA Cup (Picture: Getty)

Now, I appreciate that this blog is going to paint me as somewhat of a hypocrite, but as someone who still believes in the ‘romance’ of the FA Cup I have to fall on my sword and accept that the best possible outcome of this year’s competition now is that one of Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool lift the famous trophy – and better still, two of them contest the final.

While, under normal circumstances I would love to see a club like West Brom or Aston Villa upset the status quo, my only real concern is that of Southampton and a more ‘regular’ winner would keep the European dream alive.

The situation is this: Chelsea’s League Cup win was of great benefit to Saints (cheers Jose!) as it meant the Europa League spot allocated to the winners is passed back…

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