Top-half finish for Saints isn't out of reach just yet
On November 6 2020, a momentous day at St Mary's saw Southampton go top of the Premier League for the first time in the club's history following a 2-0 win over Newcastle, as speculation began to arise on just how high the club could finish this season.
Unfortunately for Ralph Hasenhuttl's side, it has been far from plain sailing since then and large proportions of the confidence surrounding the squad and their performances have been largely hindered.
After making a discouraging start to 2021, the Saints embarked on a 10-game winless streak that included a heartbreaking replication of their infamous 9-0 defeat last season, at the hands of Manchester United.
Having bounced back against rock-bottom Sheffield United last week, the St Mary's outfit were thrashed 5-2 against Manchester City as they failed to re-ignite on a consistent run of form - and it is imperative they secure a home victory on Sunday to provide any glimpse of a top-half finish that seemed so certain just a couple of months ago.
Last three Premier League meetings
Brighton 1-2 Southampton (December 7, 2020)
A tale of two penalties helped Southampton leave the Amex with all three points as James Ward-Prowse settled the fixture from the spot after a controversial VAR ruling.
After an impressive spell in the first half, Brighton were awarded a penalty after Ward-Prowse handled the ball in the Southampton area, before the Saints captain made amends for his earlier error by assisting Jannik Vestergaard from a corner.
The game's drama was fuelled by the VAR decision surrounding Southampton's penalty, as Solly March's foul on Kyle Walker-Peters was overruled from a free-kick after multiple inconclusive camera angles deemed the decision to be reversed, causing uproar among the Brighton bench and their post-match reaction.
Ings converted the penalty to complete a controversial comeback for Southampton.
Southampton 1-1 Brighton (July 16, 2020)
Both sides' danger-men stepped up at St Mary's as Neal Maupay's opening goal was cancelled out by a second-half strike from Southampton talisman Danny Ings, in a closely -contested affair after the COVID-19 season restart.
Maupay put Brighton ahead with a low-driven shot before Ings responded with his 20th goal of the season in the second half, making him the first Saints player since James Beattie in 2003/04 to earn that distinction.
The result for Brighton meant they had to wait a while longer to confirm their safety in the Premier League for another season.
Brighton 0-2 Southampton (August 24, 2019)
A first-half red card for Brighton proved to be the difference in this fixture as Florin Andone's dismissal saw the 10-man Seagulls lose 2-0.
Andone received his marching orders after just half-an-hour for a dangerous challenge on Southampton's Yann Valery as Moussa Djenepo put the visitors ahead with a scintillating strike in the 55th minute.
Nathan Redmond added insult to the hosts' injury in stoppage time, rounding off a routine victory for Saints.
Head-to-head in the Premier League
Brighton wins: 0
Southampton scored: 10
Brighton scored: 6
Seagulls have survival in sight for this season
Since their shock win at Anfield at the start of February, Brighton have failed to win in their last five attempts. Graham Potter's side are currently only clear of 18th-placed Fulham but have played one game fewer than the London side.
With four of their upcoming opponents being Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and Leeds, it is imperative that the seaside outfit get a result from their clash with Saints in order to establish some more touching distance between them and the bottom three.
Goal difference will also be a crucial factor for the Seagulls hopes of beating the drop, who only better Fulham by three on that front, with Scott Parker's side facing a tough test in champions to be, Manchester City.
The bookmakers odds fall in the favour of Potter's side remaining in the league for another season - Paddy Power are offering odds of 6/1 for their relegation.
With tough fixtures coming thick and fast, a result for Brighton in tomorrow's game could be the difference maker in them surviving for a fourth straight Premier League campaign, or suffering relegation to the Championship.
Southampton's next five games after playing Brighton
West Brom (A)
Crystal Palace (H)
Score prediction: Southampton 1-1 Brighton
The Saints haven't won at home in the league, since their hard-fought victory over Liverpool on January 4, coincidentally Brighton's last away victory also came against Liverpool in February, a cagey affair awaits as both sides look to respectively stabilise their shaky form.
Southampton have scored five goals in their last five games, as opposed to Brighton who have only managed to register two in that time, a low-scoring fixture appears to be on the cards.
A further loss to Southampton will be the injury Danny Ings sustained a week ago in their victory against Sheffield United, ruling their top scorer out for another week at least.
There has been an average of 2.5 goals scored in the last three meetings in the Premier League between the two.
With both sides looking to get back on track, a draw seems a logical outcome from this one.