Opposition Focus: Southampton


24/02/19 – Arsenal 2-0 Southampton
09/02/19 – Southampton 1-2 Cardiff City
02/02/19 – Burnley 1-1 Southampton
30/01/19 – Southampton 1-1 C Palace
19/01/19 – Southampton 2-1 Everton


Southampton has gone through quite a bit of change this season. With the assignment of Ralph Hasenhüttl, the modern 3-back formation has been a consistent choice throughout. When we faced them at Craven Cottage, they were still under the guidance of Mark Hughes, who was shortly sacked after our 3-2 victory of course. Hasenhüttl’s approach has been to clog the midfield with possession strong midfielders in Romeu, Ward-Prowse and Hojbjerg while allowing the speed of Nathan Redmond to play off Stuart Armstrong. Defensively, they sit back and group in numbers, similar to us, but the goal is not necessarily to counter-attack, rather maintain possession and build from the back. Look for Romeu to drop back deeper to start the attack, while crosses from the wingbacks to Armstrong and Redmond set up the midfielders to be there for clean up duty – resulting in multiple shots on goal. 

Battle to Watch

Tom Cairney vs Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Assuming Ranieri, yet again, sets up our captain on the right-hand side, he’ll be facing a tucked in Hojbjerg, who is quite physical defensively. Cairney will need to be sure to drop back though as the Southampton attack will shoot from any sort of distance, and starting counter-attacks are not the easiest task when the midfield compresses down to pick up loose balls. 

Danger Man

Last time we played against the Saints, it was a brace for Stuart Armstrong, who found himself in our box on one occasion, and a blast from outside the box on the other. He’s had good matches since with scoring against Man United, but the most recent form has been a bit of a miss the last 4 matches, in particular, the loss to Arsenal this past weekend. It will be important that whoever is covering Armstrong’s late runs into the box, and ensuring that pressure is placed on the midfielder to not get a shot off. 

Last 5 Meetings

24/11/18 – Fulham 3-2 Saints (PL)
06/01/18 – Fulham 0-1 Saints (FA Cup)
01/02/14 – Fulham 0-3 Saints (PL)
26/10/13 – Saints 2-0 Fulham (PL)
26/12/12 – Fulham 1-1 Saints (PL)


Fulham wins 22
Draws 24
Southampton wins 27

Stats & Facts

  • Fulham have never won at St Mary’s Stadium since it became Southampton’s home in 2001. In our 6 visits there, we have lost twice and drawn four times. 0-0, 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3.
  • Fulham’s away record against Southampton in all competitions is 4 wins, 9 draws and 22 defeats.
  • The Whites haven’t beaten Southampton away in a league game since 1935.
  • Our 4 victories on the road to the Saints are as follows: twice in the Southern League in 1905 and 1906, 1935 in the third tier and 1-0 in the League Cup in 1998 thanks to Dirk Lehmann’s winner.
  • Southampton’s home record this season reads 2 wins, 6 draws, 5 losses and 2 clean sheets. That’s 3 points worse than Fulham’s home record.
  • Both clubs have changed managers this season. So far Ralph Hasenhüttl has a points return of 15pts in 13 matches. Whilst Claudio Ranieri has 12 pts in 15 matches.

Players in Common

Micky Adams, Jimmy Allen, Chris Baird, Dave Beasant, Ian Black, Mark Blake, Luis Boa Morte, Wayne Bridge, Calum Chambers, Glenn Cockerill, Steven Davies, Iain Dowie, Fabrice Fernandes, Danny Guthrie, Kasey Keller, Paul Moody, Alan Nelson, Antti Niemi, Ian Pearce, Maarten Stekelenburg, Matt Targett, Maik Taylor.

Opposition View (@TotalSaintsPod)

What is the atmosphere like amongst Saints fans at games? Are the crowd turning on the team yet?

Over the last couple of seasons, Saints have much preferred playing away – without the pressure of an expectant home crowd at St. Mary’s.

Unsurprisingly, with only 3 Premier League home wins in 15 months, the crowd tend to be pretty apprehensive whoever we’re playing.

Saints fans have never been an overly aggressive bunch so, whilst there are often plenty of moans and groans, that’s all it tends to be.

Is this match a ‘must win’ for Southampton?

In mathematical terms, no – as there are still enough games left, if we don’t beat Fulham, to get the points required to survive.

That said, if we want to make sure we stay up this season then, when you consider some of the other games we still have to play, 3 points are vital.

For me, it’s a ‘must win’ game!

How has Matt Targett done this season?

Targett’s done ok. Like many in the side he’s often looked short of confidence, but always try his best.

He is much better at attacking than he is defending and, whilst a run of games has seen more consistent performances from him, he continues to generate conversation about his ability as a Premier League player.

Our clubs share in common a good academy setup. But Fulham are already seeing the change in approach as a Premier League Club with a lack of players getting chances this season. Even Ryan Sessegnon seems to have fallen down the pecking order. 

Do you feel having a good academy is only worthwhile and or beneficial if you are a club out of the Premier League?

It’s clearly much harder for young players to break through into senior Premier League sides these days.

You’ll see the odd one make it, and get some regular game time (Declan Rice, Sean Longstaff, Yan Valery etc.) but certainly not the handful(s) you might have 10-20 years ago.

The problem is, of course, money – and the vast amounts in the Premier League. Clubs generally don’t seem bothered about developing their young talent any more, as they can simply afford to buy in pretty much finished articles.

It must be fairly demoralising for youngsters in any Premier League Academy, as it’s more than likely their footballing career will ultimately involve loans/moves further down the pyramid if they want to play regularly.

I’d love to see a rule around ‘x amount of homegrown players’ making up a Premier League matchday squad – but there is clearly no appetite for that sort of thing.

I think Academy’s will always exist in English football, but I’m not sure the belief to succeed is really what it used to be – from players and/or coaches. And that’s a sad indictment of our modern game.

There were a lot of Fulham Supporters on social media that were envious of your new managerial appointment at the time. 13 games into his reign, do you think you’ve appointed the right man?

Could it be that Hasenhuttl is the right man, at the wrong time?

His record speaks for itself (finishing 2nd in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig for example), but the current squad at Saints are collectively poor – both in technical ability and executing instructions.

I think the manager has found the task much more difficult than he would have expected when he arrived – and, ultimately, we are still where we started with him – in the relegation zone.

He is trying his best – and the fans have absolutely taken to him – but I think even Guardiola would struggle to get much out of some of our players!

If Southampton were to get relegated, which players would you expect to leave and what would you prefer to happen manager wise ahead of a return to the Championship?

I’d hope Hasenhuttl would stay and lead a promotion charge, but he seemed to indicate a while back that he would move on if he didn’t deliver what the Club needed this season (survival).

As for the players, whether we stay up or not, there needs to be a massive overhaul this summer. The team needs to be built around the likes of Angus Gunn, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Nathan Redmond. I’d hope those 4 would stick with us for one more season, but relegation often brings strange and unexpected decisions.

The overhaul mentioned has been needed for a while and, in truth, many fans are looking forward to it happening this coming pre-season – one way or another!

How do you see the game panning out?

I think it’ll be a nervy affair for both sides. Clearly, the pressure is on Saints – as the home side – and the atmosphere will probably substantiate that even more.

It really is a game that could go either way – with a costly individual mistake(s) highly likely.

It’s going to be important for Saints fans at St. Mary’s to get behind the team and make them believe they can get the result. The longer it goes 0-0 (or worse) the more the frustration and pressure will build.

Not a game for the fainthearted – in the stand or on the pitch!

Score prediction – I said 2-1 to Fulham on the latest Episode of Total Saints Podcast.

Confidence is low in the Saints camp and that, alongside the poor St. Mary’s record, doesn’t fill me with too much hope.

Fulham have enough quality going forward to cause us problems and, whilst they’re not great at the back, we simply don’t punish teams enough when we create chances.

Predicted Line-up – I think Hasenhuttl will go with Alex McCarthy, Yan Valery, Jannik Vestergaard, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand, Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oriol Romeu and Charlie Austin.

That said, he’s chopped and changed the side quite a lot, so your guess is probably as good as mine!

Thanks to Ben from the Total Saints Podcast for answering our questions.

Match Prediction

Oh, what to say, Fulham faithful. It’s safe to say that anything along the lines of “believe” or “confidence” is already met with rolled eyes from supporters. We’re all a bit tired of hearing about it, aren’t we? I mean, it goes without saying that we need A, B and C on the intangible level – I am sure the players are just as sick of hearing about it. It’s an odd thing, that Ranieri talks like this, but then sets us up to be so defensively passive and narrow. As a result, we absorb all this pressure down the sides, such as simple one-two passes against West Ham, or get broken down with penetrating through passes because our defensive line is so low. Then, when we are set up to counter-attack, and the opposing team gives us space to maintain possession instead… we have no answers. 

Away to Southampton is going to be an incredibly difficult challenge. Forget the standings, we may be in a relegation battle here, but that does not mean we are equal to the Saints. They have had better results against teams that we have lost significantly to, such as beating Everton 2-1 in January, tying Burnley 1-1, and only losing 2-0 to Arsenal this weekend. The positives of that performance could be just enough to springboard some momentum and their first win since January. 

What has to be agreed with Ranieri is that yes, we need to treat this as a cup final. We need to have belief and the confidence to perform. Right, the fans are important – especially in the incredible away support this season, regardless of our standings and status. However, enough talk and enough talk about intangible elements that are going to be consolation prizes with no reward if the reward does not involve 3 points. We are past the point of needing to have a good performance and only get 1 point out of it. This is a match that is absolutely crucial, and Ranieri must change his ways immediately, for the players, the club, and himself. 

I am predicting a hard-fought victory where Cairney displays another MOTM performance, but Mitro finally breaks his scoring drought with 2 goals, both scrappy in the box. Our defence will get their act together, and we will be reliant on Rico to make some amazing saves, but only concede once. The final score will be 2-1 for Fulham. COYW!!

Predicted Line-up