Saints heading towards 29-year top flight high - and Pochettino is on course for a personal milestone (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Saints heading towards 29-year top flight high - and Pochettino is on course for a personal milestone
8:04am Friday 2nd May 2014 in Sport
Saints need four points from their remaining two matches to make this their most successful top flight season for nearly 30 years.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have already bagged 52 points in this campaign.
If they can get to 56 in their final two games then it will officially be their best since 1984/85 when they finished fifth under Lawrie McMenemy.
Saints need just three points to better their Premier League era record, which was 54 set back in 1994-95 when sides played 42 games rather than the current 38.
The only time they have bettered that, since the 68 they got in 1984/85, was 55 in 1989/90, which was also a 38-game season.
It again underlines just how a strong a campaign this has been for Saints.
from back page Though there has been a feeling of things fizzling out a little as Saints got marooned in eighth place after a blistering start, the stats underline just how good it has been.
Saints’ remaining fixtures see them travel to Swansea tomorrow before rounding off the season against Manchester United at Mary’s a week on Sunday.
Should Saints win at the Liberty Stadium, it would equal their top flight record for the number of away victories in a single campaign, They notched seven in 1983/84, when they finished second, and in 1991/92, which was also a 42-game season.
In addition, the context of the likely finishing position is that Saints have only finished higher than eighth on seven occasions in the club’s 37 years in the top flight.
They finished seventh in 1968/69, 1970/71, 1981/82, 1989/90, second in 1984, fifth in 1985 and sixth in 1981.
Eighth is the highest they have managed in the Premier League era, previously achieving the feat in 2002/03.
In 2002/03 Saints jumped three places on the final day after winning at Manchester City with a Michael Svensson goal.
Going into the last game, Saints could have finished as low as 13th – only one place higher than the club managed in 2012/13.
Had Saints lost in the final game ever played at Maine Road, and Charlton had avoided defeat and Birmingham won, Gordon Strachan’s men would have slipped to 13th.
As it was, their win at City came on the same day that Tottenham lost 4-0 at home to Blackburn and Middlesbrough lost 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers.
Saints leapt above City, Tottenham and Boro on the final day.
Strachan’s men also finished 2002/03 with a minus goal difference – minus three – while Pochettino’s Saints will finish with a positive difference.
Saints have thus far scored nine more goals than they did in 2002/03, and conceded one fewer.
This season Saints have only ever been out of top ten once, when they were 11th after a 0-0 home draw with West Ham on September 15.
They have not been out of the top nine since before Christmas.
This could also be a significant season for Pochettino personally.
If Saints avoid defeat tomorrow, it will be the first time he has ever ended a season as manager having won more games than he has lost.
Saints also require two more clean sheets to equal their best Premier League defensive record of 45 goals conceded in 2003/04
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