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Prediction league: Middlesbrough at home

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There may be an atmosphere at St Marys this afternoon but it'll have little to do with the return of Gaston.

Southampton FC v Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC - UEFA Europa League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

A goalkeeper blunder, and two lucky deflected assists were enough to end Southampton's good mood last Saturday.

Never fear, it was in the league and this is the season for cups. When I put out a call for predictions for today's game, the response wasn't exactly overwhelming. Thursday was all that mattered.

Then Thursday happened and suddenly the league has added importance.

There was palpable anger, disapointment and disbelief in the air when the final whistle blew and the Hapoel players ran to their fans. Van Dijk summed the mood up perfectly with his statuesque 5 minute pose on the half way line.

So now this game means everything again. Can we find some goals? Can we start to play with a bit of confidence again? Is Redmond going to start getting booed when he touches the ball?

There are three winnable games before christmas but our boys have been struggling to put away lower opposition so far this sesson.

Normally I write about the opposition in these preambles. Here goes: Middlesbrough under Karanka are the kind of dull, organised side that you forget are in the league and might prove to be the worst type of team Puel could face in the current circumstances.

Predictions

Merse: 2-1

Southampton are a good team and in Virgil van Dijk, they have the best centre-back in the Premier League in my opinion.

Lawro: 1-1

Saints will have to break down a Middlesbrough team who are very defensive minded and have had some good results on the road.

Will: 1-0

Boufal injects a bit of class and scores in a nervy game that looks to be ending 0-0 for 80 minutes.

Blaise: 2-1.

Tadic comes back, earns the start and gets involved with both goals. Negredo pulls one back late, but it's not enough.

Jake: 2-0

It won't be enough to shut up the boo boys, though.

Allen: 0-1

I'll be different to the other predictions ... 0-1 MID. Gaston's injured groin to score the decider.

Everyone else is seemingly too depressed to predict today.