After a defeat to Bournemouth on Friday night in the Premier League, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side head into tonight’s game against Portsmouth aiming for nothing but a win.
The first South Coast Derby in seven years is expected to be an explosive affair, with the Saints manager admitting in his pre-match press conference via the club’s official website that he will pick his strongest XI possible against the League One side.
Indeed, supporters will expect nothing but a win against Pompey in the League Cup, and a defeat against their south coast rivals could be Southampton’s lowest moment as a club since their promotion back to the top-flight this decade.
Although Southampton’s loss to the Cherries was frustrating, the Saints can’t hold a candle to what Portsmouth have been through this season, with Pompey languishing in the depths of the League One table a year after reaching the Play-Off semi-finals and coming close to automatic promotion.
Form, quality and common sense should point towards a Southampton win even when you factor in the Fratton Park home advantage for Portsmouth as well as the tensions heading into this game, with the BBC reporting that tonight’s game will be the largest ever football policing operation in the history of the county.
Yet football has it’s funny, magical, and in this case stomach-churning ways of throwing up an upset, ignoring all factors and handing a win to the side that simply wanted it more on the day, and that is a trap Southampton can easily fall into.
The Saints have experienced many lows since their return to the Premier League, such as losing the League Cup final in the 87th minute to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and testing fate by almost going down last season, yet many fans would agree that a defeat to Portsmouth tonight would top all of that, and signify the lowest moment in this era for Southampton.