Poor start forgotten as Southampton continue to impress
It’s amazing what three games can do for a club, just ask Southampton fans. Winless in their opening four in the Premier League, there was a bleak mood around St Mary’s, and some supporters feared the worst.
Their transfer activity in the summer was eerily reminiscent of recent years, as three of their first-team players left to join some of the top-flight’s so-called bigger clubs.
Couple that with the arrival of a new boss in Claude Puel and fans had every reason to be concerned about what the new season would bring.
However, the Saints have since been in fine form, picking up seven points from a possible nine in their last trio of games, while comfortably defeating Crystal Palace in the EFL Cup and taking points from both Sparta Prague and Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Europa League.
It’s also six games in all competitions without conceding for Puel’s men. Not bad going, really, as Fraser Forster continues to build a case for a starting place between the sticks in the England team.
While the loss of Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama will have hurt Saints fans in the summer, the arrival of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg combined with the blistering start Charlie Austin has had to the season has softened such blows somewhat.
Though they’ve shared their goals between them so far this season, Southampton have only scored seven times in as many games in the league. To put that into perspective, that’s three less than they managed at this point last year, and less than any other side in the top 12.
And with back-to-back 0-0 draws to their name, perhaps one thing which could hold the Saints back this campaign is their lack of options going forward.
Should injury-prone Charlie Austin fall victim to another lengthy spell on the sidelines, there’s suddenly a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Shane Long, a man who’s scored just 30 league goals in the last four years.
And Puel may be forced to add to his frontline come January, given that Austin has a history of injury problems.
But should the Saints take their fine run of form into the next three months, and bring strength in depth in the winter transfer window, there’s no reason why they can’t equal, or even better, last year’s sixth-place finish.
Right now it’s 9/2 for Southampton to break into the top six for the second consecutive season, but you can expect those odds to fall should this unbeaten run continue after the international break.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing