Last season, Southampton were a revelation under Ronald Koeman and they are showing that it was not luck. They have carried on their good form this season and they are sitting in a great position heading into the winter schedule. Southampton are currently in 7th position with 20 points from 12 matches, which is a really good return, with their recent form being exceptional. They are unbeaten in six matches, winning four of those, including a comprehensive victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge. Koeman will be targeting another European finish, and the job he is doing is even more impressive when you consider that the club continues to sell their best players.
The work done in the summer has allowed the side to continue improving with the signing of Virgil van Dijk being particularly noteworthy. He has added stability to the back four and has already struck up a good relationship with Jose Fonte. The club have only lost once since the Dutchman came into the side and on another day they could have got something against Manchester United. He also carries a threat in the opposition half from set pieces as he has shown twice already. The Dutch international could turn out to be one of the best signings made this season if he continues his current form.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Toby Alderweireld both left in the summer, which left many to predict Southampton would fail to repeat their performance in the league. The former was a huge blow as he was an important part of how Southampton played under Koeman. They have signed Jordy Clasie and Oriol Romeu to try and plug the gap, but neither have the pedigree that the Frenchman has. The latter is an interesting case as he certainly has the potential to grow into a really good Premier League midfielder. He is comfortable on the ball as highlighted by his 86% pass success rate. Meanwhile Clasie arrived with a big reputation in the Eredivisie, but injuries have prevented him from making an impact so far.
Southampton haven’t set the world alight at either end scoring 19 goals and conceding 13, and the best is certainly yet to come. The attacking options available to them will always lead to them causing opposition teams problems, with the dynamic play between Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle being unplayable at times. Pelle has had an excellent start to the season, finding the form that he showed last season. The Italian has six goals and two assists this season, which is a great return and has put his side in a position to challenge the very best in the league.
It’s too early to suggest Southampton could match or even beat last season’s finish, but the signs are there that Saints will be a regular in the top ten for the coming years. This will excite the fans as they have lacked consistency in the past decade and have had to deal with playing in the third tier. However, the club is now being run in the correct fashion and they are an example to every club outside the top six. They recruit well, make good managerial appointments and play football in the right way. I expect them to stay in the top half for the rest of the season and could even qualify for Europe for the second year in a row.