Southampton : When the Saints go marching in
Fourteen games into the season, with six wins, four draws and four defeats, Southampton have surpassed expectations and are sitting pretty at eighth in the league table.
So what is it that makes them tick? To put it in one word – discipline. The work ethic of the team is remarkable and they press very well, making it difficult for opponents to score. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has incorporated this style of football since he took over earlier this year and the saints have thrived under his tactics.
Pochettino had made three summer signings; defender Dejan Lovren, defensive midfielder Viktor Wanyama and striker Dani Osvaldo. The most impressive has been Lovren who alongside Spanish defender Jose Fonte has formed a solid partnership in defence.
The problem with Southampton last season was their defence; they were always good going forward and attacking but struggled at the back. This season, they look more organized as a team. The players have an excellent work rate and everyone is helping out with the defending. They retain their composure when they don’t have the ball and quickly close down the opposition to win back possession. As a result, they are the league’s tightest defence in terms of least goals conceded.
The manager had inherited a very young and talented squad to work with that included a couple of teenagers from the club’s youth system. At just eighteen, Luke Shaw has all the makings of a world class left back. James Ward-Prowse, nineteen, another youth product has shown his versatility in midfield. French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin(probably one of the most under-rated players in the league) controls the central midfield area and has played a huge role in Southampton’s success over the past few years.
Jay Rodriguez, who faced a lot of criticism last season has turned things around and has been spectacular on the left flank this season. Evergreen midfielder Adam Lallana is continuing to be a sensation in the south coast. Fan favourite and club icon Rickie Lambert will be looking to re-discover his goal scoring form to fire the Saints to glory. Southampton have got the fire power and Pochettino is bringing the best out of his players.
Getting points at home has been a key for the Saints. The atmosphere at the St. Mary’s stadium is electrifying thanks to the passionate Southampton fans. The Saints were unbeaten at home until the midweek game against Villa, a game in which they dominated possession and allowed Villa only three shots on target; unfortunately all three found the back of the net.
The Saints have had fantastic results this season including a win at Anfield and a draw at Old Trafford. However, there has been in a dip in form and they have lost three games on the trot. They host Man City in the weekend in what will be a crucial game for both teams and a real test of character for Pochettino’s lads.
Although fans will be hoping for better, a realistic aim for Southampton would be to finish in the top half of the table. This will give the club stability and something to build on. The future is looking bright for the Saints and it’s only matter of time until Southampton become a top premier league side.Published 07 Dec 2013, 11:14 IST