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Apr 10, 2014

Saints to give Cardiff the Blues?

Cardiff, Southampton's visitors on Saturday, have had something of a turbulent season, on and off the field.

Many Saints fans disliked the way Nicola Cortese ran the club, but his misdemeanours seem like mere blips in comparison to the actions of Vincent Tan. It's difficult to imagine what it is like to support a team whose owner has been associated with such turmoil.

In a week that saw Hull City chairman Assem Allam rebuffed again in his attempt to change the club's name to Hull Tigers, perhaps the Cardiff fans will be given fresh impetus to battle Tan for their traditional blue colours to return.

Despite the actions of their owner, the Bluebirds' faithful have stuck by their team, and in truth they have been let down.

On paper, and if Saints can find the same level of performance they did vs. Newcastle, this should be a field day for Mauricio Pochettino's side, but I am expecting this Cardiff team to find their fight at some point and it would be typical if they found it at St. Mary's.

I always take a peek at whoscored.com in the run-up to a game to see the identified key strengths and weaknesses of Saints forthcoming opponents. For Cardiff fans, their weaknesses make grim reading, especially with the way Saints play.

"Defending against through balls," "Stopping opponents creating chances," "Defending against attacks down the wings," "Defending against skillful players" and "Defending counterattacks" reads the list of shame for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.

With Jay Rodriguez out for the foreseeable future, Saturday represents the ideal opportunity to bring Gaston Ramirez in to Southampton, especially given the perceived weaknesses of the visitors. Ramirez's agent has been publicly claiming that the Uruguayan wants a return to Italy in the summer, so this could be the chance for Pochettino to let him prove his worth and commitment.

Everyone associated with the club will be hoping that Artur Boruc will be back for Saints too, but I for one will have an eye on the performance of David Marshall at the other end. Southampton need a goalkeeper who can challenge the Pole next season, and Marshall could be that man, following his superb season for Cardiff.

I fancy we might see a bigger involvement for the likes of Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher for the rest of the season too, and that might start this weekend. Saints have no fear in blooding youngsters, and I hope the likes of Sam McQueen and recent professional Josh Sims also get an opportunity.

Keep the faith.