Southampton can all but confirm their safety with a victory over Bournemouth this weekend and will be hoping to pile the misery on their visitors, who fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham last time out.
The almost-weekly improvements made by the Saints since Ralph Hasenhuttl took the helm have seen the south coast outfit steadily climb away from relegation, meanwhile picking up some phenomenal results.
But Mark Lawrenson predicts that this will be the game after which the Austrian can begin planning for what is looking like being an exciting first full season in the Premier League.
The BBC pundit predicts a scoreline of 2-0 to the hosts, who he thinks will be able to capitalise on Bournemouth’s struggles at the back:
“The good news for Southampton is that Bournemouth are short of fit defenders, and they are not the greatest at the back anyhow.
“Saints are as good as safe anyway, sitting six points above Cardiff and with a much superior goal-difference, and I think they will make absolutely sure of staying up on Saturday.”
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Indeed, with a number of key defenders sidelined, the Cherries have a mountain to climb against a Southampton side who are tearing teams apart with their tenacity up front, epitomised by Shane Long’s early, early goal against Watford last time out.
The Saints will have a job keeping the likes of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, who have struck up a lethal partnership, at bay but they have plenty of pace and legs in the team to run Eddie Howe’s side ragged. They surely won’t bottle their six-point lead on 18th-placed Cardiff but a win at St Mary’s Stadium this weekend will make their survival fact.