MAURICIO Pochettino knows Southampton and Sunderland are both “playing for more than just the three points” this weekend.
The talk just a few weeks back was of the promoted side ending their seven-year Premier League absence with a top-10 finish.
However, Saints’ four-match winless streak has been compounded by the teams around them picking up results, leaving them just four points above the drop zone.
Southampton boss Pochettino admits 18th-placed Wigan’s midweek defeat in their game in hand to Swansea was a relief ahead of their own penultimate match of the season at Sunderland, where both sides are able to secure survival should they win.
“It is clear that we welcome any losses of rival teams that are in similar positions to ours,” the Argentinian said. “We’re always keeping an eye on those sort of games.
“We know that we have two games left, we need to do our job and get the maximum number of points from these last two games.
“We are very aware that the game on Sunday is going to be quite intense and that both teams are going to be playing for more than just the three points.
“We know that the atmosphere is going to be very much charged. We’re going to face a side that has been physical ever since the arrival of Paolo di Canio so we are prepared to compete on Sunday.”
Much of Southampton’s success this season has been based on their ability to find the back of the net.
Their 47-goal haul is better than any other team in the bottom half, although they have not managed to score in their previous three matches.
“We have had trouble basically finding the back of the net,” Pochettino said.
“We need to be confident that in the next game we will be able to score because goals are what actually get you results so we need to keep the focus.”
Club record signing Gaston Ramirez and left-back Danny Fox are both suspended for the trip to the Stadium of Light, while Pochettino today revealed a further three players are doubts for the match.
“We’re looking at the recovery of Morgan Schneiderlin and Maya Yoshida,” Pochettino added.
“Morgan had a very strong knock in the game against West Bromwich and that made him available for the game against Tottenham. Maya had some problems in the pelvis.
“Mayuka’s father passed away on Tuesday. He travelled to Zambia then and will return tomorrow, when we will see what mental state or conditions he returns in.
“We will see if he is okay even to travel with the team. We will look at that when he arrives and I want to send my deepest condolences to him and his family for the bad news.”