Morgan Schneiderlin is determined to end his debut Premier League season in style by collecting all three points against Stoke City on Sunday.
Schneiderlin, who has enjoyed a fine week already after collecting two Player of the Year awards, now wants to give something back to the club and the fans, by delivering a victory which could – if results go their way – put Saints in the top half of the table, leapfrogging this weekend’s opponents in the process.
“We know what Stoke are about in terms of unsettling us with set pieces, but we’re prepared for it,” the midfielder told Saints Player.
“We’re stronger than we were four months ago, and we’re going to impose our passing game on them so that they have to run after the ball instead of us.
“It’s going to be a good game,” he continued. “Both teams will have no fear as they’ve secured their life in the Premier League, but it will be a good game as we want to finish the season on a high, and thank the fans with a good league position as we could still finish tenth if results go our way, which is very important for us as a club.”
Back in December, Saints were minutes away from securing a victory at the Britannia Stadium, until Cameron Jerome’s wonder-strike made it 3-3 in the dying embers of a thrilling contest.
“We didn’t really play our football that day,” Morgan recalled. “It was a bit disappointing because we didn’t manage it well. They had ten men for part of the game too, so it was disappointment but hopefully we can put it right on Sunday with a good performance.
“They have been in the Premier League a few years now and have been doing well, although maybe apart from this year where it’s been a tougher fight to keep their survival in the Premier League, but we know what Stoke will be all about.
“They will play long balls into the box, they’re very strong on set pieces, and so every throw-in and long ball will be a threat because they have big players. It’s going to be a very hard game, and hopefully we can impose our game on them.”
Morgan’s season as a whole has been impressive, with the Frenchman still leading the way in terms of tackles and interceptions, making more than any other top-flight player in both categories. The 23 year-old believes he has got stronger as the year has gone on.
“The second part of the season was the main thing for me,” he explained. “I no longer asked myself if I was going to play every game which I had done in the Championship, and even after the few games in the Premier League, I thought maybe things would be changed around.
“I approach every game the same, but it’s very difficult in the Premier League. I just tried to do my best and I could feel within myself I had a progression in every single match, and so have the team.
“With the new manager I’ve enjoyed myself more than ever. I know I’m capable of doing the running, whereas before I use to keep in front of the back four and pass the ball from deep, but now I enjoy playing a bit higher.
“The goal I got at Wigan showed how far I have come because two or three years ago I couldn’t have done that as a few of my goals came from long range, although I can still improve on that too.”