Both teams are desperate for points from this match but for completely different reasons.
Peterborough United -Vs- Southampton
Venue: London Road
Date: 17th April, 2012
Peterborough United host promotion chasing Southampton on Tuesday evening at London Road looking to make to pick up a point that would guarantee their Championship status for another season.
Southampton are looking for back-to-back promotions as they look to maintain their place in the top two and put pressure on Reading who leapfrogged them following the 3-1 win by the Royals last Friday.
The rock in defence, Gaby Zakuani suffered a season ending injury against Leeds United on Saturday which means Posh need to shuffle their backline. They have only one fit recognised centre back which means right back Craig Alcock will fill in for Zakuani for the remaining three games of the season.
With all the fit senior defenders due to start the game, youngster Kgosi Ntlhe is expected to be named on the substitutes bench as a back up defender.
Emile Sinclair missed the dismal defeat at his hometown club of Leeds and will need a fitness test on his twisted ankle before finding out whether he makes the squad.
Teenage Joe Newell, who scored his first senior goal for Posh against Leeds is expected to be named in the starting line up again as he was one of the few players that came out of the Leeds defeat with any sort of credit.
Many of the Posh team are so tired even before a ball is kicked, but Posh boss Darren Ferguson has limited resources and can`t make many changes unless he starts bringing in youngsters who haven`t featured in the first team yet!
Danny Kearns has showed glimpses of promise when he has made fleeting appearances and is chomping at the bit for a starting slot. Whether Fergie decides to bring him in is uncertain but for all Posh fans that have witnessed the last few matches, it is obvious that we need some fresh legs and Kearns, like Newell, could provide those fresh legs needed for the final few games.
Goalkeeper Paul Jones made more howlers against Leeds on Saturday and must now be sweating on whether he will retain his starting position. Fellow keeper Joe Lewis made similar errors earlier in the season and he was dropped the next game. Could the same fate happen to Jones? With Posh hoping to retain the services of Jones after this season, he is expected to keep his place. Whatever Fergie decides though, it is obvious that Posh need to find a better goalkeeper for the next League campaign.
Vital Posh predicts the starting line-up will be:
Little, Brisley, Alcock, Rowe
Saints boss Nigel Adkins has no new injury worries ahead of this must win game. Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is absent with a knee injury and strikers Tadanari Lee and David Connolly are also sidelined.
Daniel Seabourne and Radhi Jaidi could return after recovering from head and knee injuries respectively.
Leading Championship goalscorer Rickie Lambert will once again lead the line and will be looking to increase his goal tally which currently stands at 27 League goals!
Steve De Ridder is hoping to start the game after coming off the bench in the Saints previous four games.
Despite looking very tired in the last few games, Posh boss Darren Ferguson believes Posh have it in them to turn over another top team: ‘We`ve beaten Reading, Blackpool and Leicester at home recently so we know we can do it.
‘Obviously Southampton have a massive incentive of their own and they will be keen to bounce back to form after losing their last match.
‘They have strengths all over the park. They can play and they can mix it physically if they have to, while they also boast Rickie Lambert who is just about the best player in the Championship at the moment.
‘But we will prepare thoroughly. We know there are ways we can hurt them and as long as we play with energy at a high tempo from start to finish we have a good chance of winning.
‘We are on the verge of safety, but we still have a little bit to do. If we do our jobs properly we could be celebrating ourselves tonight.’
Fergie is also hoping the injury sustained by influential central defender Gaby Zakuani can motivate the rest of the team: ‘Gaby`s performance on the pitch and in the dressing room has been outstanding all season.
‘If the players need any extra motivation to make sure we stay in the Championship then they should use Gaby`s injury.
‘Gaby deserves another crack at the Championship. Hopefully we will have him fit and raring to again in the division next season.
‘His absence tonight is obviously a blow, but Craig Alcock has played well there before and he will do so again.’
Boss Adkins is hoping the Saints fans can cheer his team onto victory in all their remaining games: ‘It will be a great atmosphere. Our supporters will be behind the goal, and, if previous trips to London Road are anything to go by, a fantastic evening`s entertainment is lined up for everybody,
‘I know that the noise from our supporters will echo around the stadium and drive our players on to the three points.
‘Look at the Crystal Palace game last week. Our supporters were magnificent and we`ll do exactly the same again at Peterborough.
‘They get behind the players, make them feel 10 feet tall and the players will be behind them carrying the badge on their chests with pride and with honour.
‘The last time we played here was fantastic entertainment and that`s what football should be about.
‘We want to put the smiles on the faces of our supporters though. We`ve had a lot of happy times lately and I am sure there are more to come.
‘We`ve put ourselves in a great position to achieve what we want to achieve.
‘We want to get to the Premier League and we`re fighting to win the Championship. We`re at the top end of it in the last couple of weeks of the season, so let`s embrace it, let`s challenge it, let`s be positive in everything that we do.’
STATS & FACTS
Head to Head statistics between these two teams can be found HERE.
A form guide to Posh and the Saints can be found HERE.
17 – Barnett (13 for Crawley)
11 – Taylor
10 – Sinclair
8 – McCann
7 – Tomlin
7 – Boyd
27 – Rickie Lambert
10 – Adam Lallana
10 – Guly Do Prado
6 – David Connelly
5 – Jos Hooiveld
5 – Billy Sharp
JOCK WAUGH takes charge of this clash. Find out all his stats and when he has refereed Posh and the Saints before HERE.
He will be assisted by Ian Dudley and Ollie Yates.
The fourth official is Mark Scholes.
This is going to be a tough, tough game for Posh. Many Posh players have no energy left and against a rampant Southampton team who are chasing the Championship title, it could turn into a nightmare unless Posh can muster any sort of fight.
Vital Posh predicts a comfortable win for the Saints: 0 – 3.
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Photos/images courtesy of www.theposhpics.com