It really does seem that the only South Coast side actively taking the advice 'play up' is The Saints.
When Chelsea faced Southampton in January not many would have predicted the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge was to be the final performance under the managerial stewardship of Nigel Adkins. However just days after he was gone; replaced by Mauricio Pochettino at the helm.
Today they face off again and Chelsea should genuinely be worried of Southampton’s recent form against the big boys of the Premier League.
Their bitter rivals Portsmouth are well known for their chant ‘play up Pompey’ but right now it is the Saints who are taking that advice to heart.
Since Pochettino has taken over the clubs performances against the bigger sides have been even more superb then what Adkins got out of them.
His first game against Everton was a slaughter. They consistently applied pressure to David Moyes’ side goal and how they only came away with a 0-0 draw was a mystery.
Next up was Manchester United. Even after the game Sir Alex Ferguson was humble in his victory. He admitted that Southampton were the best team to have visited Old Trafford this season and felt fortunate to have escaped with all three points.
So when Southampton tore Manchester City apart I suppose we should not have been surprised. The Premier League’s reigning champions were played off the park at St Marys as Pochettino led his side to a 3-1 demolition job.
In their last Premier League game that was again the case. This time it was Liverpool who succumbed to Southampton’s ‘play up’ mentality in another scintillating home performance.
Such results look like keeping The Saints up this season. Their results against those around them have been less inspiring under the Argentine. Draws with Wigan and Norwich plus defeats to Newcastle and QPR have been their downfall.
But not many teams in and around the relegation mark give the Premier League’s leading pack a harder run for their money than the men from St Marys; and that form may just secure their Premier League status for next season.
You can almost guarantee that Chelsea won’t have it easy this Saturday.
image: © joncandy