The opening three games of the 2013/14 Premier League season may have seen Southampton pick up four points, but the South coast side have struggled to find the back of the net so far this season.
Southampton’s first goal came in a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, whilst their second came in a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s against Sunderland. Worryingly, both goals have come very late in their games; a penalty in stoppage time granting Saints the three points at The Hawthorns, and an 88th minute equalizer from defender Jose Fonte denying Sunderland their first win of the season. But why exactly have Southampton been struggling to find the net?
One reason could be the new look squad Mauricio Pochettino has created. The Argentine has brought in several new players in Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama, and record signing Pablo Osvaldo – as well as bringing in younger Saints grown players such as James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers. With all these new faces joining the starting eleven, it isn’t surprising that time is needed for all the players to gel together and find their rhythm. I suspect that the new starting eleven will find their goal scoring form very soon.
Similarly, the departure or omission of certain players could also be playing a factor in Southampton’s goal drought. Look at Jason Puncheon, for example. He scored six Premier League goals for the Saints last season, including some vital goals away to QPR and Chelsea. The 27 year old is now at Crystal Palace on a season long loan. I saw the highlights from their game against Sunderland and Puncheon was very impressive. I expect he’ll be key to Crystal Palace’s survival hopes, but hopefully Saints can depend on their other players. Otherwise they have made a huge mistake in letting him go.
Southampton have found the back of the net an extra two times, although these goals were incorrectly disallowed. Adam Lallana’s effort at The Hawthorns and Jay Rodriguez’s fine finish at St Mary’s were both wrongly given offside – showing how the Premier League officials have played their part in Southampton’s struggle to score.
Officials will make mistakes but they cannot solely be blamed. The harsh truth is that Southampton’s strike force has not been up to scratch. With a strike force of Rickie Lambert (the top English striker last season), Rodriguez, and new boy Osvaldo, Southampton should be scoring a lot more goals than they currently are. Pochettino should keep playing Osvaldo if he wants the Saints to score goals. The record signing can, and will, score if given time. Rodriguez should also keep playing. He may not have had the best start, but he too can find the space to score key goals.