The talk just a few weeks back was of the promoted side ending their seven-year Premier League absence with a top-10 finish.
However, Saints' four-match winless streak has been compounded by the teams around them picking up results, leaving them just four points above the drop zone.
Southampton boss Pochettino admits 18th-placed Wigan's midweek defeat in their game in hand to Swansea was a relief ahead of their own penultimate match of the season at Sunderland, where both sides are able to secure survival should they win.
"It is clear that we welcome any losses of rival teams that are in similar positions to ours," the Argentinian said. "We're always keeping an eye on those sort of games.
"We know that we have two games left, we need to do our job and get the maximum number of points from these last two games.
"We are very aware that the game on Sunday is going to be quite intense and that both teams are going to be playing for more than just the three points.
"We know that the atmosphere is going to be very much charged. We're going to face a side that has been physical ever since the arrival of Paolo di Canio so we are prepared to compete on Sunday."
Club record signing Gaston Ramirez and left-back Danny Fox are both suspended for the trip to the Stadium of Light.
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