All eyes will be on St Mary’s as Southampton look to finally book their place in the Premier League alongside champions Reading when they entertain Coventry.
Southampton have had a couple of small screen horror shows in recent games with a televised 3-1 home defeat to Reading and a 2-1 reverse at Middlesbrough in front of the cameras last Saturday keeping their fans waiting to celebrate a second successive promotion and put an end to their seven-year top-flight exile.
However, a win against already-relegated Coventry City is required, while a draw could do unless third-placed West Ham, who are two points behind at kick-off, stick four past Hull City at Upton Park.
Only the pressure can get to the Saints’ players now because on paper this fixture is a ‘gimme’ in terms of the three points.
They currently top the ‘home’ table going into the match, are the Championship’s top scorers with 81 goals in 45 matches and have already beaten the Sky Blues twice at the Ricoh Arena in the league and FA Cup.
Adkins, who is set to replace hamstring injury victim Richard Chaplow with Guly Do Prado in his starting XI, will be confident of seeing his team record a ninth league double of the season and book a place in the Premier League.
Andy Thorn’s Coventry side are preparing for League One football next season – the first time the Sky Blues have been at the third tier of the English game since 1964.
They arrive on the south coast at the bottom of the ‘away’ table after recording just one away win all season and they are the lowest scorers in the division with 40 less than their opponents going into the encounter.
To make their mission even more difficult, defender Richard Keogh is suspended following his sending-off against Doncaster so 17-year-old Jordan Willis is poised for a first senior start.
The only statistic Coventry – and West Ham – fans can cling on to is that Southampton have not recorded a league double over the Sky Blues for 21 years.
However, regardless of Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce’s attempt to point out the pressure is all on the Saints, we feel they should have more than enough to get past Coventry and once the first goal goes in the floodgates will open.
Incidentally we feel the Hammers will keep their part of the bargain and defeat Nick Barmby’s Hull City but will have to go back to the Premier League via the play-offs.