Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl believes Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final match with Bournemouth could be Southampton’s most important game of the season.
The Saints will face off against their South Coast rivals who are looking to cement a place at Wembley. The match takes place at Vitality Stadium but the Premier League team are favorites to progress.
It was a poor second half of the campaign for Southampton. From sixth on January 4, they slipped to 14th after taking just four out of 36 possible points.
It’s certainly a form of relegation, but they’re still seven points ahead of the drop zone. A solid first four months is to be thanked for this, when they were in a hurry to secure a European place.
It only remains to maintain its position in the English Premier League and fight for the FA Cup. And a march to the final of the prestigious competition is now at the heart of Hasenhuttl and his men.
“The cup is for us the chance to win a trophy and I think that’s why we took it very seriously from the start,” he told reporters. “It’s very important. When we were in a better position in the league, we could focus on the cup, with the risk of having a few more injuries.
“But we took that risk and because we had a match like the one on Saturday, a match where we have a chance to make the semi-final of the most traditional competition in English football.”
Hasenhuttl puts all his eggs in one basket
It may be that a some league wins will ensure the security of the Premier League of Southampton. But it’s hard to see where they’ll come from given what happened in 2021.
However, the Austrian tactician will do not hold anyone for the meeting with the cherries. He recognizes the value of a great day in the capital and the confidence that a trip to Wembley would bring.
“I think for us, for the players, for the staff, for the supporters and for everyone in the club, this may be the most important game of the year,” he added. “It’s another good chance to show that we can be a different team and especially in a game like this it’s important to have a really good mentality and to get something.
After the international break, the Saints’ next task in the league will be to welcome the other Burnley wrestlers to St Mary’s.
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