Soccer: Saints look to shut up shop and stop slide

Fri Dec 6, 2013 9:42am EST
 
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By Ossian Shine

LONDON (Reuters) - Winded by a third successive defeat, Southampton must patch up a suddenly leaky defense when they host free-scoring Manchester City on Saturday.

The once-meanest back line in the English Premier League has now conceded eight goals in the last three matches.

Two of those defeats came at the hands of league leaders Arsenal and second-placed Chelsea, and if Saints are to arrest their drop to eighth place in the league they will need to slam on the handbrake against third-placed City.

A priority for Saints' Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino will be to organize his defense to protect third-choice keeper and compatriot Paulo Gazzaniga from the English league's most prolific attack.

With Polish stopper Artur Boruc out with a broken hand and back-up Kelvin Davis still injured, Saints suddenly look vulnerable and Pochettino's task will not be made any easier by the absences of Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama and key defender Nathaniel Clyne, both injured in the midweek loss to Aston Villa.

"Of course injuries always change your plans, your outlook, but we need to keep on believing," Pochettino told Southampton's TV service SaintsPlayer on Friday.

"We need to keep on working, keep on believing like we have been doing."

Despite the run of defeats, 2-0 at Arsenal, 3-1 at Chelsea and 3-2 at home to Villa, Pochettino says his highly regarded Saints team have not become a poor side in a matter of days.   Continued...

 
Chelsea's Juan Mata (L) challenges Southampton's Victor Wanyama during their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at Stamford Bridge in London December 1, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh