Saints’ trip to Villa Park on Saturday will mark the start of a testing run that sees them play five of their next seven matches away from home.

The club have thus far played 11 games at St Mary’s but only nine on the road, which means they are now playing catch up.

After the game at Aston Villa they face away matches against Chelsea, Manchester United, Wigan and Newcastle.

In among that run they host Everton and Manchester City at St Mary’s.

Saints are undefeated in their last two away games, having secured draws at Fulham and Stoke over the Christmas period.

However, they know they need to pick up their form on the road to give themselves the best chance of survival.

Nigel Adkins’ men have averaged just 0.56 points per game away from home this season with only Reading, Newcastle and QPR having fared worse on their travels.

In contrast, Saints have collected an average of 1.18 points per game on their own turf.

Away form is going to be vital for Saints because of the teams they have to play.

With the exception of QPR, who visit St Mary’s at the start of March, Saints have to face all their rivals in the top flight’s bottom seven away from home.

With the exception of QPR and West Ham, their home games are against teams in the top half of the table.

If Saints can pick up form and take wins at the grounds of their rivals it will almost certainly see them do enough to survive.

If they continue to average 0.56 points per game they would be struggling but given they have played most of the top teams away from home there is a very real possibility that their form will pick up.

Also added into that mix is the fact that Saints did take a few away day hammerings early on, which is why they average the Premier League’s worst defensive record of conceding 2.67 goals per game away from home, but they are a much more competitive Premier League outfit these days since settling back into life with the big boys.

As an attacking force Saints are actually very consistent wherever they play.

They average scoring a very respectable 1.33 goals per game away from home and 1.36 on their own patch.