Sitting comfortably in mid-table with two games in hand on the teams around them, you would fancy Southampton to secure a top-half finish for the fourth season in a row. But we aren’t so sure.
And here’s why.
Firstly, those two games in hand are against Arsenal and Manchester United.
And when those fixtures get rescheduled in the dying weeks of the campaign, you can be sure that both the Gunners and the Red Devils will be going all-out to secure a top-four spot.
Secondly, the Saints must still also play Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
So with 11 games to go, five come against sides in the top six. And given that they’ve mustered two points in seven contests with that bunch so far this term, that doesn’t bode well.
Thirdly, Virgil van Dijk will miss the rest of the season.
The Dutchman has been a colossus for Southampton, and it says plenty that Puel’s side have lost four of six games without their star centre-half.
The absence of the former Celtic ace, coupled with the sale of Jose Fonte to West Ham, means Southampton are having to adapt to an entirely different central defence to the one they could rely on during the first half of the season.
Fourth, their campaign has already peaked.
The run to the EFL Cup Final and a trip to Wembley provided a welcome distraction from the Saints’ lukewarm performances in the Premier League.
Now that’s been and gone. What is there really left to play for?
The answer is not much. And throw that in with a devilish fixture run-in and a new centre-half pairing and suddenly Southampton to slip into the bottom half at 11/4 looks rather appealing.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing