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Monday, 15 October, 2018

Firepower remains an issue for dogged Southampton

Five things we learned from the weekend

Southampton were frustrated against Manchester United
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1 Saints need Austin to power up the table
Southampton won plenty of admirers and ruffled the feathers of Jose Mourinho while losing 1-0 to Manchester United on Saturday but they need to show a killer instinct if they are to turn good performances into positive results.

They have failed to score in ten of their last 13 matches and manager Mauricio Pellegrino may have to consider different personnel if he is to solve the problem.

Pellegrino likes his teams to work hard and has selected busy striker Shane Long for the last two matches.

But Long mustered just three goals in 32 league appearances last season and has not scored more than ten goals in a league campaign since netting 21 for Reading during their Championship promotion-winning season in 2010-11.

Pellegrino has alternatives and needs to use them.

Manolo Gabbiadini looked a class act at times last season and may just need a run of games to hit the goal trail.

But a more reliable source of goals is Charlie Austin, a proven top flight striker, who netted 18 goals when QPR were relegated in 2014-15.

Austin has struggled for regular game-time since joining Southampton in January 2016 but may be Pellegrino's best bet to end the goal drought.

2 Burnley could be heading for a relegation scrap
Burnley are delighted to have nine points after the opening six games but it is too early to rule them out of the relegation reckoning.

They have shown commendable battling qualities against some of the big boys, winning 3-2 at Chelsea and drawing 1-1 at Tottenham and Liverpool, but are finding it difficult against the teams around them.

Last season they survived after turning Turf Moor into a fortress.

But they have looked far less convincing in home matches this season and were lucky to draw 0-0 at home to Huddersfield on Saturday.

Huddersfield are third favourites for the drop but if Saturday's contest is anything to go by their survival prospects are better than Burnley's.

3 Sunderland slide may continue
Sunderland fans were in despair after relegation from the Premier League and they may have to steel themselves for further disappointment because the Black Cats are in the bottom three of the Sky Bet Championship.

There is still a long way to go but Sunderland have not been particularly unlucky and must improve if they are to climb to safety in an ultra-competitive division.

They have not won a home match in 2017 and seem to be finding it more and more difficult to play in front of their disgruntled supporters.

Simon Grayson's side have lost four home games in a row – worse than any run they had in the Premier League last season - and are in real danger of dropping further down the pyramid.

4 Millers in the promotion mix
Rotherham's relegation from the Championship is still fresh in their minds but they are in with a good chance of bouncing straight back.

Paul Warne's side have won four of their last five games and their 20-goal tally is the highest in the division.

After recovering from a slow start Rotherham are up to eighth.

But there is scope for further improvement and they may end up having a big say in the race for automatic promotion.

5 National League return beckons for Rovers
Forest Green played in front of the Sky cameras on Friday – losing 2-0 at home to Swindon – and looked like a side struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Rovers were toothless in attack and error-prone in defence, showing why they have the worst defensive record in the top four divisions.

They are rock-bottom and in serious danger of going straight back down to the National League.

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They have failed to score in ten of their last 13 matches and manager Mauricio Pellegrino may have to consider different personnel
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