Date:Friday February 2 2007
The last couple of games have seen Saints improve significantly on a stop-start Christmas and New Year period. Successive wins against Q.P.R and Sheffield Wednesday have ensured that Southampton stay in touch with the promotion-chasing pack.
However, the next two games could prove vital in determining which league Saints are playing in next season. This coming week could prove to be one of the most important in the recent history of the club, not only in terms of playing top-flight football but economically too as Saints will miss out on an extra £6million from television rights if promotion is not achieved.
Tomorrow sees Saints take on Championship leaders Derby County at St. Mary`s Stadium. A defeat could prove disastrous and would put Derby 10 points clear of Saints. A win, however, would reduce the gap to just 4 points and potentially see Southampton sitting in second place ahead of a tough away trip to West Bromwich Albion.
After a slow start under Tony Mowbray, West Brom are flying. Six wins in their last seven league games has seen the Baggies rise to fourth place. Saints will have to be wary of in-form striker Diomansy Kamara, who can expect a rough time from Southampton fans anyway for his Portsmouth connections.
It is essential that Saints carry their current form into these games as the next two results are sure to have psychological impacts on the team and supporters: two wins and the city will be buzzing; two defeats and chances of promotion will be severely hindered.
The addition of Marek Saganowski to the squad has already paid dividends even though the Pole is yet to kick a ball. The extra effort Kenwyne Jones showed against Sheffield Wednesday was evident to all and the competition for a starting place can only be beneficial.
A crowd of at least 30,000 is expected tomorrow, and everyone involved: the manager, the players and the supporters must play their part to ensure what would be a crucial victory.
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