Nigel Adkins and Martin O'Neill Go Head To Head At St Mary's

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 21 December 2012, 08:08

The Premier League has produced a host of significant encounters already this season and come Saturday there is yet another huge match, as relegation-rivals Southampton and Sunderland do battle at St Mary's. The game also pits together two managers - Nigel Adkins and Martin O'Neill - who have been under immense pressure at one point or another during the course of the season.

Nigel Adkins came under-fire for the first few months following Southampton's torrid start to the campaign. At one point the former Scunthorpe boss was the odds-on favourite in the Premier League Sack Race but to his credit he has admiringly managed to change things around on the south coast, with Saints losing just one of their last six matches. The pivotal moment came at Loftus Road in mid-November, with the Saints conjuring up a valuable 3-1 win, which ultimately cost Mark Hughes his job.

In contrast Martin O'Neill spent the majority of the first couple of months under the radar due to his side's reasonable start. However, their stuttering form since mid-October has placed him under the unrelenting glow of the media spotlight. He has since been among the favourites for the sack but the Black Cats' recent 3-0 demolition of fellow strugglers Reading was a simply massive result for the club and it has eased the pressure ever so slightly. However, if they fail to pick up more points over the festive period then O'Neill will be back under the microscope.

Both teams are currently hovering dangerously above the relegation zone. The Saints are just one place from safety due to their slightly superior goal difference, while Sunderland are a solitary point above them in 16th. At the moment O’Neill is the second favourite for the chop with odds of 5/1, whereas Adkins' odds have lengthened somewhat to 22/1. Meanwhile Reading gaffer Brian McDermott remains the 11/8 favourite.

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