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On 9th November 2019, Southampton lost 2-1 at home to a struggling Everton side, a result that left the Saints in relegation. They were 19th in the Premier League and lost six of their last seven games, including a 9-0 home humiliation at the hands of Leicester City shocking the Saints fans and left manager Ralph Hasenhuttl under severe pressure.

If you had asked a Saints fan at that point if they’d take their team being 14th in the table by the middle of March, they would have snapped your hand off.

The turnaround for the team started on the return from their international break, when Southampton travelled to the Emirates Stadium returning with a point following an impressive draw with Arsenal. Backing up their performance with consecutive home wins against Watford and Norwich, briefly bringing them out of the drop zone, then a run of four wins in five over Christmas, including a revenge mission in Leicester, carrying them clear.

Now only 12 points between Everton in 12th and Watford and Bournemouth on the fringes of the relegation zone, it will be easy for teams to get sucked back into the survival battle, with recent results we can see the Saints looking over their shoulder with nine games to go.

Crucial wins over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa have been cancelled out by five defeats in their last seven games. There was little shame in losing to Liverpool at Anfield and they arguably deserved more than a defeat out of their game against Wolves in the middle of January, but losses to Burnley and West Ham were more disappointing, the Saints missed a golden opportunity to move a big step closer to survival when they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle at St Mary’s.

Even with the Saints on 34 points and a seven-point cushion ahead of the relegation zone the fans will still be looking nervously at the next few fixtures. In the next and coming games the team may face games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Europa League-chasing Everton; a run of fixtures from which they will not be expecting to earn many points.

That puts huge pressure on their next two games, against Norwich and Watford. Victory in both of those games would put the Saints on 40 points and give them a great chance of securing their Premier League status, with two of their last three fixtures coming against relegation rivals Bournemouth and Brighton.

If they were to lose those games, they would certainly find themselves worryingly close to the relegation zone as they would face tough fixtures – with online betting sites listing taking odds on FPL relegation this year.

Of the two upcoming fixtures, the game against Norwich would be the best opportunity for Southampton to earn some breathing space. The Canaries battlled hard for their 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United, their third loss in four games, six points adrift from the bottom of the table and 13 points behind Southampton. Still, they can’t be underestimated. All four of their wins this season were at home, including a famous 3-2 victory over Manchester City.

Watford manager Nigel Pearson has helped claw the team out of the relegation zone, having only lost one of their seven home games under his guidance: a narrow 3-2 defeat against Everton.

With Southampton’s improvement since November will mean that they don’t necessarily need to beat Watford, but victory over the Canaries and a point from Vicarage Road would go a long way towards ensuring their survival, and avoiding a potentially nerve-wracking run-in to what has already been a rollercoaster ride of a Premier League season on the south coast.

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