Watford is right behind the Saints, in dead-last with eight points
Southampton has still not won at home this season
While Watford has already replaced its manager, Southampton has still held onto Ralph Hassenhuttl.
It’s a proverbial relegation six-pointer as Southampton hosts Watford in a match broadcast live over the air across the U.S. (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).
The Saints have fared somewhat better – all in all – since the 9-0 thrashing to Leicester City at home, and arguably should have picked up a crucial three points at Arsenal last week. However, Ralph Hassenhuttl desperately needs three points on Saturday with Watford coming to town.
On November 8, Watford picked up on its first Premier League win (2-0 over Norwich City) under Quique Sanchez Flores since he returned to the club in September and could jump over Southampton in the standings with a road win. History isn’t necessarily on either team’s side heading into this encounter. Both teams have finished with a 1-1 draw in the last three matches between these two teams, with Watford coming back to tie the game in all of them.
Sanchez Flores has also had to deflect reports in the media that he could be sacked again by the Pozzo family, which owns Watford, since the team has barely improved since he took charge. Should Watford lose again, his fate could be decided on Monday morning.
Ralph Hassenhuttl on what Southampton took from its 2-2 draw: “Every game in the Premier League is a tough one. You have to put everything on the pitch to get something and this is what we know and it’s good now that we have found back a little bit of self-confidence. This is very important for us and that gives us a lift, absolutely, and we need this lift that we can put it on the pitch from the first moment on, that we can invest a little bit for the fans and for the crowd, and they help us then – creating chances, showing that we are on the front foot and then we need the crowd to support us, because we must turn the table at home.”
Sanchez Flores on a 6-point match against Southampton: “It could be [a turning point], for us it’s a long time saying it’s finals and finals and finals. We are preparing finals but when you play finals I know what it means. When you prepare finals you need to reduce mistakes. We know they are dangerous, they have very quick players, good players in the midfield, strong defenders. But we have our players too, we have things we want to do. It should be even, like every single match in the Premier League.”
Both teams desperately need a win. So of course, they’ll find a way to draw. In the breezy south coast of England, long balls will go wayward and the team which can move the ball on the ground best will control the match. Ultimately, neither team has proven it is good enough to win this match, but Saturday can be a chance to turn it all around.
It’s been a busy morning for deals in the Premier League now that the transfer window is officially open.
Southampton has completed the signing of 21-year-old defender Jan Bednarek, the club announced Saturday morning. The young defender is a youth product of Polish club Lech Poznan and signs directly after his participation in the U-21 European Championships in his home country. His involvement in that competition means he will take extra time off and join his teammates for preseason later in July.
Bednarek provides needed depth at center-back for the Saints, who stand to potentially lose Virgil Van Dijk this summer. Even if van Dijk stays, defensive replacements were a must for the club this window.
Watford has also done some business Saturday morning, bagging 26-year-old right-back Kiko Femenia and young Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann.
Femenia signs from Alaves in his home country of Spain, and will compete with Daryl Janmaat and Jose Holebas for time on the edge of defense. Femenia was a starter last season for Alaves and made 31 La Liga starts en route to a 9th-placed finish for the club. The Spaniard previously saw time at both Real Madrid and Barcelona but never cracked through from the reserve squad.
22-year-old Bachmann moves from Stoke City where he progressed through the youth ranks and spent several trips out on loan but never found his way into the first team. In the last two years Bachmann saw time at Wrexham, Bury FC, and Scottish club Ross County. Goalkeeper isn’t exactly a position of need for Watford, with Costel Pantillimon and Huerelho Gomes both providing stability between the sticks, but the Hornets may have seen potential in a player not otherwise finding his way onto the Premier League pitch.