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Premier League

  • March 15, 2014
  • • 11:00 AM
  • • St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Hampshire
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 29828

Premier League Preview: Southampton - Norwich City

Premier League Preview: Southampton - Norwich City

With their final four matches of the season against members of the Premier League top six, the struggling Canaries know they need points in the bank ahead of the stretch run.

Norwich City travels to Southampton on Saturday knowing its next five games could well hold the key to securing Premier League survival.

Chris Hughton's team sits four points clear of the bottom three with nine fixtures still to play this season.

After facing a Southampton side that ended a three-match losing streak in all competitions with a 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace last time out, Norwich will take on Sunderland, Swansea City, West Brom and Fulham. Of that quartet, only Swansea sits above Norwich in the league, on goal difference alone.

Conversely, Norwich's final four league games all come against teams currently occupying places in the top six, making the need to get points on the board sooner rather than later appear particularly pressing.

Although the Carrow Road club was able to put a chastening 4-1 loss at Aston Villa behind it last time out, a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City certainly carried the air of a missed opportunity.

Bradley Johnson handed Norwich a second-half lead and the team played the final 12 minutes against 10 men after Jon Walters, who leveled for Stoke from the penalty spot, was sent off for a reckless challenge on Alexander Tettey.

While Norwich is one of several teams facing a battle to preserve its top-flight status, Southampton would seem to have little to worry about heading into the closing weeks of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino's men were beaten 1-0 at home by Norwich in August, with Nathan Redmond the man on target.

Yet that proved to be the only defeat Southampton suffered in its opening 11 Premier League games, prompting talk of potential European qualification.

While that task now appears beyond Southampton, the club remains handily placed in ninth position with 42 points, some 11 points clear of West Ham, the team immediately below it.

It is a mark of Southampton's progress this season that Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw have all made their England debuts.

Each of those four will be keen to use their club's remaining matches to battle for a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, while Pochettino will no doubt be eager to ensure Southampton retain the intensity that has served it so well throughout the campaign.

Southampton, which appointed a new chairman this week in Ralph Krueger, faces a tricky run of fixtures after facing Norwich, with Tottenham, Newcastle United and Manchester City its next opponents.

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Southampton FC SOT
Southampton FC Southampton
Norwich City FC NOR
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Southampton FC SOT
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Norwich City FC NOR
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