After selling the club captain and second top scorer of last season, Southampton was viewed as a team you should fear for. People within football claimed they wouldn’t be surprised if Southampton weren’t able to survive this Premiership season but with only one defeat so far this season and recently defeating Arsenal in the Capital One Cup, should Southampton be viewed as a team you should be fearful of?
The story of Southampton this season is a widely known and eventful one, losing their manager to Tottenham hotspurs, selling three players to Liverpool (Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren) and with Manchester United 27 million pounds on teenager Luke Shaw they were looking like a team with no depth, no quality and no hope. The club’s outgoings came to a total of 88 million pounds returned to the club, so with a wide sum of money and the whole summer being given to new manager Ronald Koeman, he was given what seemed the impossible take to replace great players with similar quality.
Koeman formally of Dutch side Feyenoord decided to scout the Dutch league he had been accustomed to and purchased Duscan Tadic of FC Twente and Graziano Pelle of his former side Feyenoord. He spent a combined total of 18.9 million pounds, which was seen as a large sum of money for a team like Southampton.
The money continued going out for Southampton with goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Shane Long and Sadio Mane being purchased for over 10 million pound each. Southampton spent a total of 56.7 million pounds with also Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand coming in on loan to try and reinvest on what was a very different Southampton.
First game of the season saw Southampton play against Liverpool away from home, they lost the game 2-1 but could be argued that they played the better of the two sides and were very unlucky not to get something at Anfield. They’ve gone on to draw one and win three games, bettering the first five games of last season by two points. They’ve also scored more goals (nine goals) than last season (four goals), so with the fantastic start to the season can Southampton be seen as a team to push for the top spots?
To compare the top four of last season (Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal) first five games and Southampton’s current campaign to see if their start is similar to the teams which ended in those exclusive four positions:
|Team||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals For||Goals against|
As you can see the way Southampton has started is very similar to the top four of last year – a sign of things to come?
Koeman is a very experienced manager – having coached in four countries his pedigree could be vital for the Saints. Somewhat of an underdog similar to Southampton, he has never been given the full praise he deserves and will be looking to show his credentials in a team which was dismantled. With 10 players being sold last season (with a further seven players being loaned out) and seven players being brought in, the early success could be down to a new manager able to bring his way of coaching straight into what is a new Southampton side. If they had kept the players of last term and had Koeman came in, it could have been difficult to adjust to what was already a settled side.
The key for Southampton this year is to avoid injuries – James Ward-Prowse has recently been sidelined for 10 weeks, is a massive loss as he has been a key part to Southampton’s early success. With so many players leaving the club, the squad will be very thin. Injuries to first team players will cause problems as they don’t have adequate depth to rotate the team.
Claiming Southampton to fight for the top four may just be out of their reach, but sitting second in the league is a great platform to work with. If Koeman can keep the players fresh and the results keep coming, then perhaps a fairytale is in the making.
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