Football

Southampton break has come at perfect time

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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman may have been annoyed when his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Crystal Palace at St. Mary's a few weeks back, but looking at it now it may have done his team a favour.

The Dutchman's side have struggled somewhat for the fluidity and momentum that saw them beat Arsenal and Manchester United in January.

With an FA Cup weekend this week, the Saints have been able to use the 11-day period without a game to rest and recuperate ahead of the end of season run-in.

Lacking fluidity

In recent fixtures they have not looked as much like the side that have soared towards the top of the Premier League table, losing 1-0 to Swansea and drawing 0-0 with West Ham in their last two home games.

Southampton have been missing Morgan Schneiderlin, Shane Long, Toby Alderweireld and to some extent Victor Wanyama and Ryan Bertrand over the last couple of games, but it is in the final third they have suffered most.

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Welcome break for tired legs

With Graziano Pelle having played all bar one of the Saints' matches this season, and with no seemingly adequate replacement, the Italian has gone on an eight-game league scoring drought and the team lacks fluidity with him not at 100%.

That is why the FA Cup defeat will have hurt at the time, but now Koeman must be looking at it as a positive with so much to play for towards the end of the season.

After the final whistle in the West Ham stalemate, Southampton have 11 days before they host Liverpool at St. Mary's next Sunday.

That will allow Pelle and several other teammates the crucial chance to get back to full fitness with some huge games to come.

Next few fixtures look daunting

With their big guns back and an extended rest under their belt the Saints can come into the final 13 games with plenty of confidence.

The Saints do have to face Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City before the end of the season but they have proven they can compete with the best.

Koeman will be hoping that the added energy and bite his side will have after their break can help them back to winning ways against Liverpool, especially as the visitors are in Europa League action in mid-week so do not have the luxury of a rest.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Southampton
Ronaldo Koeman

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