Saints travel up to the KC Stadium on Tuesday night looking to stretch their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions. Kick-off 7.45pm.
The New Year’s Day defeat by Chelsea aside, 2014 has started well for Southampton as the team close in on matching their best run of the season so far which was an eight match run without defeat between September and November.
Just after that run came to a halt with defeat at Sunderland in the Capital One Cup, Saints returned to winning ways a few days later, with a 4-1 win over Hull City at St Mary’s.
It was the perfect send-off for England trio Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert who went on to feature for the national side the following week.
Lambert and Lallana were both on the scoresheet against the Tigers in the reverse of this fixture which was one of the most satisfying all-round performances from the team this season.
It would however, be foolish to think that Saints will be in for a comfortable evening on Tuesday.
Mauricio Pochettino has highlighted the threat of January transfer window additions Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic as players who have supplemented an already strong squad, and one that will surely pose Saints more threats this time around.
Hull have in fact conceded only nine goals at home, the same number as Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. Only Arsenal have a better record with six.
Saints meanwhile, have lost one of their last five away games in the Premier League (Everton), and have only failed to score twice in their last 25 league and cup games – a run stretching back to September.
This is the first meeting between the two teams in the Premier League on Humberside, but if Saints can take inspiration from anywhere then it would be the 2-0 win at the KC Stadium (also on a Tuesday night) in March 2012.
It was a pivotal result which sent Saints five points clear at the top of the Championship table as the team crept closer to promotion. Jos Hooiveld scored in that game whilst the other survivors from that match include Jose Fonte, Adam Lallana, Kelvin Davis, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, Guly do Prado and Rickie Lambert.
Should Cork feature from the beginning again, then he will make his 100th league start for Southampton across two spells with the club.
Dejan Lovren, Gaston Ramirez and Matt Targett are all out, but the trio are in light training.
Young striker Sam Gallagher has returned to full training and will travel with the squad after being given compassionate leave last week.
Hull full-back Liam Rosenior picked up a thigh injury during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, and is rated as 50/50 to be in contention for Tuesday’s game. Ahmed Elmohamady deputised for Rosenior in the second half of that game, and could drop back there again from midfield for this game.
Tigers boss Steve Bruce will also be without defender James Chester (hamstring) and goalkeeper Allan McGregor (suspended).
“We’re going to be facing a very tough Hull side who have made a lot of reinforcements during the transfer window. I think they are one of the teams that have spent the most money in the transfer window, so yes we’re fairly certain that we’re facing a very tough team and a very tough opposition on Tuesday evening.
“I think Hull have always been a tough side and now with these signings that they’ve made they’re an even tougher side to play against. We noticed that especially when we played them at home, that they were an especially tough side, they were aggressive and physical.”
“It’s arguably as big a game as we’ve had at the KC Stadium for a long time and if we could win it, it would be great because back-to-back victories for a bottom half team can send you up the table very quickly, especially with how tight it is.
“I have never known it like this. Eleventh and four [points] ahead of the bottom three.
“Normally one or two are adrift. To be fair to Sunderland what they have done in the last few weeks is remarkable. Everyone thought they were gone. It has made for an exciting division. There are fine margins between us all at the bottom.”
This is only the second-ever top-flight meeting between the two teams, and the first one to be played on Humberside.
Back in November, Saints were 4-1 winners over Hull. Goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana put the hosts 3-0 up at St Mary’s before Yannick Sagbo pulled one back before the hour mark. The three-goal margin of victory was secured by a late strike from substitute Steven Davis.
That was the fifth Saints win in the last six matches with the Tigers, and prior to this season, the last eight matches between the two clubs were contested in the Championship.
A memorable 2-0 victory at the KC Stadium in March 2012 put Saints within touching distance of promotion from the Championship, and you can relive that game here.
Hull’s 5-0 win over Saints in 2008 was the Tigers’ only home win over Saints in six attempts, with that victory coming as retribution for the 4-0 success which went the way of the home side in the reverse fixture from that season.
Tuesday’s game will be the 55th all-time meeting between the two teams in all competitions. 20 of those have gone the way of Southampton, and 14 to Hull. A further 20 games finished as draws.
Martin Atkinson will referee Tuesday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr S Child and Mr S Long. Mr R Madley is the fourth official.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Mauricio Pochettino spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch his interview, as well as the press conference in full on our video channel.
And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.