Opposition Focus: Southampton


11/10/18 – Southampton 1-1 Watford
04/11/18 – Man City 6-1 Southampton
27/10/18 – Southampton 0-0 Newcastle
20/10/18 – Bournemouth 0-0 Southampton
07/10/18 – Southampton 0-3 Chelsea


Southampton play a 4-4-2, but have also played a 4-2-3-1 depending on the midfield they are facing. They like to move the ball from side to side and will switch flanks as much as possible. With Bertrand facing suspension, former Fulham loanee Matt Targett and right back, Cedric Soares will try to send in crosses; while the likes of Gabbiadini, Ings and Elyounoussi will try to shoot from distance. Mark Huges has the side play a high and medium press, attempting to dispossess their opponent as early as possible. Their backline is big and strong with Maya Yoshida and Wesley Hoedt, but are prone to make mistakes considering Hoedt has two own goals to his name this season Yoshida has a tendency to back off a bit more unless he is sure he can make a solid tackle. Up front, the expectation is for more goals, but with Danny Ings injured, it should mean Charlie Austin will be deployed, who is most likely still red-hot from the controversial disallowed goal he scored against Watford.

Battle to Watch

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg vs Calum Chambers: The Liverpool match was a new start for Chambers, and all eyes will be on him again to impress the new boss Claudio Ranieri. He will not have an easy task to contain the young Danish midfielder in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg though. Hojbjerg has been consistently strong for the Saints and poses a threat going forward as he has a tendency to strike from distance, but can also be the creative force behind the attacks. Chambers will need to ensure that whoever he is paired with in the centre midfield to put early pressure on Hojbjerg and prevent him from being able to have time on the ball.

Danger Man

He may not have a league goal to his name, but Charlie Austin will be looking for some vindication after the controversial disallowed goal before the international break. Depending on what type of defence is employed by our new manager, it will be important to put pressure on Austin who can struggle with his passing in these situations, but more importantly to stifle his tendency to shoot from distance.

Last 5 Meetings

06/01/18 – Fulham 0-1 Southampton (FA Cup)
01/02/14 – Fulham 0-3 Southampton (PL)
26/10/13 – Southampton 2-0 Fulham (PL)
26/12/12 – Fulham 1-1 Southampton (PL)
07/10/12 – Southampton 2-2 Fulham (PL)


Fulham wins 21
Draws 24
Southampton wins 27

Stats & Facts

  • The clubs have met on 72 occasions in all competitions – Fulham have won 21, Southampton have won 27 and there have been 24 draws.
  • Fulham have not won any of the last 6 meetings with Southampton in all competitions, drawing 3 and losing 3.
  • Southampton have won the last 3 meetings in all competitions without conceding a goal including their last two visits to Craven Cottage – in the FA Cup 3rd Round in January and the Premier League in February 2014.
  • Those two wins at the Cottage, however, have been Saints’ only successes in their last 17 visits to Fulham since a 2-0 victory in the old Division Two in October 1947. The Whites had won 8 and drawn 7 of the other 15 fixtures.
  • Fulham’s 1-0 win in the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay in January 1999 is notable for having a managerial connection. Kevin Keegan named 3 future Fulham managers in his starting XI – Paul Bracewell, Chris Coleman and Kit Symons – while current Southampton boss Mark Hughes started up front for the visitors. The Saints’ bench also included a future Fulham loanee, 18-year-old Wayne Bridge, who was first scouted for the south coast club by Micky Adams and signed four years later by Claudio Ranieri for Chelsea.
  • Fulham have lost the last 6 Premier League games, equalling their record for successive Premier League defeats. That record was set twice, latterly in 2013-14 and first in 2001-02; the losses in the Whites’ inaugural Premier League season also included defeats to Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool before ending with a 1-1 draw at Southampton.

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.

Magic Moment

Premiership Southampton were sick of the sight of us during the 1998/99 season. German pornstar Dirk Lehmann dumped Saints out of the League Cup in September as our 1-0 victory at The Dell saw us through 2-1 on aggregate. We were then back on the south coast in January in the FA Cup; Egil Ostenstad forced a replay for the home side, equalising in injury time whilst sat on his backside, cancelling out Steve Hayward’s early opener. But it was the Whites who advanced in the replay once again as Barry Hayles scored from close range at the Hammersmith End, 5 minutes from time to secure a 4th round tie away at Premiership leaders Aston Villa. That didn’t go too badly either…..

Opposition View (@TotalSaintsPod)

Did you expect to be in a relegation scrap this season?

After surviving by the skin of our teeth last season, and then spending over £50m in the summer, I think most Saints fans hoped (rather than expected) we’d steer clear of a relegation scrap this time around. Not so!

The money that was spent in the summer hasn’t led to the team picking up more favourable results since August, and indeed the majority of the signings (other than Danny Ings) have failed to even nail down a regular starting place.

Therefore, when you see its largely the same team line-up(s) as the previous 12-18 months, already short on confidence and continually struggling to win football matches, it’s no real surprise to find us battling relegation once more.

Do you think Mark Hughes is an ambitious manager or is he holding Saints back?

I think Mark Hughes is ambitious, but I’d also question how archaic some of his management, tactics and decisions are. Football has evolved a lot, and it’s now a game where a more modern philosophy tends to see success. Hughes doesn’t appear to have adapted to that.

While the squad are clearly short on both technical ability and desire, he doesn’t seem to be able to motivate them or organise them for games. The basics for any football manager. We often appear lacklustre in our tactical approach, seem to fold easily under pressure and look generally unfit.

Many fans, myself included, appreciate there are many problems with Saints currently. The majority are not Mark Hughes fault. But results on the pitch will always determine any Football Club’s success or failure. Our ‘trial and error’ strategy by Hughes simply hasn’t worked, and I think the clock is now rapidly ticking down on the tenure of yet another Southampton manager.

For so long you seemed to produce good young talent, sell them for profit and reinvent yourselves to go again. But the past 2 seasons have seen you flirting with the bottom of the table. Are you concerned about the club’s long-term future?

The Club has no clear strategy now – top to bottom – or certainly not one that they’ve been able to communicate confidently to fans. The dark clouds have been building for 18-24 months, but there is a small possibility that could be changing.

Les Reed, our Vice Chairman of Football, was sacked just before the International break, and Saints are currently undertaking the process of redesigning the Football Operations Department (which Reed oversaw). The plan is to now recruit the right person(s) in who can drive forward a new strategy.

First and foremost, the Club need to determine exactly what their key objective(s) will be. I suspect it will indeed be getting back to producing Academy prospects that can either make the Saints first-team or be sold for significant profit – like Bale, Walcott, Lallana, Shaw etc were.

A lot of money has been spent on developing the infrastructure and training academy at Staplewood, but little evidence of any output has been seen playing regularly in the first-team the last 3-4 years.

Reed paid the price for that. Others may as well. But the shakeup has been much needed for a while.

How do you think the game will pan out on Saturday?

The arrival of Claudio Ranieri is obviously going to give Fulham a lift and I think the ‘bounce effect’ of that shouldn’t be underestimated. By kick-off, he’ll have had a good 10 days or so to get his thoughts and ideas across to your players, so it’s particularly poor timing from a Saints point-of-view.

Saints need a result. We simply must come away with something – not least because of the fixture list between now and the end of 2018. One thing seems clear, the way both teams have ‘defended’ this season means a 0-0 is highly unlikely!

What’s your score prediction & Saints predicted line up?

It’s hard to articulate how poor this Saints team are. We look a long way short of winning any football match currently. That, alongside Ranieri’s arrival, leaves me predicting a 2-1 win for Fulham.

Assuming everyone is fit after the International break, then I’d expect Saints to line up as follows:

Alex McCarthy (GK), Cedric (RB), Yoshida (CB), Hoedt (CB), Bertrand (LB), Hojbjerg (CM), Lemina (CM), Redmond (RM), Armstrong (CAM), Gabbiadini (LM), Ings (CF).

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

Match Prediction

A potential opportunity to get out of the relegation zone, both sides will be up for it. I would say this is the make or break for Fulham on finally showing how they can be a class above the teams that they should, versus bottom dwelling looking confused. This is a match that has the same theme as the Cardiff match did because it is facing an underperforming side, that has not established their sense of goal scoring yet. Will Fulham be that opponent who triggers goals for the opponent again? Or will we actually be competitive before forced changes result in an undoing? That is my biggest question.

Personally, I have felt that when we stick to our base formation that we started the match with, we are much less susceptible to concede multiple goals like we have been this season. The best example was against Bournemouth last weekend where for 60 minutes we had given up 2 shots on goal and looked quite good going forward with the ball. Once we forced changes, like putting Kevin McDonald in as a centre back (with a yellow card already), we bumped up the risk factor and got caught out. My hope is we do not do the same against Huddersfield. I believe we will be “brave” as the manager always says, but I want more than that now. I want a high pressing defence, one that does not give up such width and passive midfield that chooses to invite pressure versus fight against it. Huddersfield are struggling more than us, but they have the makings of a formidable side that is just missing the element of scoring goals. What better way for them to capitalize on our leaking individual errors, lack of pressure, and proper awareness throughout the pitch.

I think the showing against Man City this week was a positive one for when we had the ball, and worry when we didn’t have it. Granted, this performance could be skewed as it was against one of the best tactical systems in the world by Pep and Man City. The defensive instruction to stay narrow and invite the pressure is concerning to me, but that is a system choice that I have not seen change this season or previous season, so it is doubtful Jokanovic will make any changes. I believe we do have an opportunity to lay siege upon their defensive third though, and with some true bravery and belief, some goals will fly in – and fewer goals conceded.  My prediction here is a 3-1 win for Fulham. Mitro gets back on track, while Sess adds another after Schurrle’s initial shot is saved. Seri picks up the 3rd goal after a nice 1-2 combination with Mitro in the box. COYW!!

Predicted Line-up