Southampton: This Season's Surprise Package?

Southampton: This Season's Surprise Package?

Every season there is always a surprise name near the top end of the table in the early stages of season. Last year it was West Brom, while the season before it was Newcastle. This term Southampton have the honour of being labelled the ‘surprise package’.

The south coast team currently find themselves in 4th place after obtaining 14 points from 7 games and only find themselves behind Chelsea on goal difference. At the time of his arrival Pochettino was met with disapproval of football fans throughout the country due to the sacking of Nigel Adkins, but the move now looks a masterstroke by the board. Southampton had shown inconsistencies under both managers, managing to beat Liverpool and Chelsea yet scuppering to QPR and Wigan last season, but improvements are being made and the benefits are being reaped currently.

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After Tottenham conceded 3 goals on Sunday, Southampton now hold the best defensive record in the league after conceding just two goals in 7 games – the last coming over 382 minutes ago in their only defeat of the season against Norwich. This impressive record hasn’t just been present this season though. Since the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino in January, Southampton have conceded 21 goals in 23 league games which is testament to the Argentine manager and his coaching staff after Southampton conceded 41 goals in the 22 games under Nigel Adkins.

The game plan that is implemented by Pochettino involves pressure high up the pitch and makes it difficult for teams to play the ball out of defence, thus forcing them to hit the ball into the partnership of Jose Fonte and Dejan Lovern, who have made 62 and 51 clearances respectively. The young quartet of full backs at the club in Shaw, Chambers and most notably Nathaniel Clyne, who won 10 tackles in the away win to Liverpool, have also played their part.

The performances of Artur Boruc have been eye-catching and a settled number 1 at the club is a contrast to the revolving door like selection policy that cause Southampton difficulties under Adkins last season. Boruc already has 5 clean sheet, just 2 less than Southampton achieved all of last season, and the Polish keeper’s form will be a worry for England and Roy Hodgson next week after looking unbeatable at times this season.

The improvements in defence have been counteracted by problems in attack where developments still need to be made; like quite a few teams this season Southampton are struggling in front of goal and have scored 7 goals. Rickie Lambert has yet to reproduce his form from last season despite his exploits with England and is yet to score a goal from open play; whilst record signing Pablo Osvaldo has struggled to adapt to the Premier League thus far with only 1 goal to his name.

A visit to Old Trafford awaits Southampton after the international break and will provide the South Coast team another tough test as they continue to surprise and make people take their European ambitions seriously.