Following a summer that appeared to lurch from one exit paper to the next, Southampton are now hitting the headlines for positive reasons as they find themselves in the top three of the Premier League after seven games.
With Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana all jumping ship over the summer, there were a lot of questions surrounding the mentality at Southampton and whether or not they would be able to survive the season without such crucial players in their squad.
Failure to prepare, prepare to fail?
For some teams, this may be true but this has never been the case for Saints. After Mauricio Pochettino left the club in May to take up the Tottenham job, the Dutch born Ronald Koeman came in. Koeman knew that once the World Cup was over, he had to ensure the players who were to stay had their heads focused on matters on, and not off the pitch – undoubtedly a difficult task.
Despite the rumours of unrest surrounding players such as Morgan Schneiderlin – who reportedly wanted to leave the club following the mass exodus of his fellow players – Southampton had a very good run in pre-season and as soon as the season kicked off in August they got on with the job in hand, proving the doubters wrong.
Between their relegation from the top flight in 2005 and their return in 2012, Southampton have established a reputation for being a side who maintain their dignity and class whatever comes their way. Being able to pull themselves away from off-the-pitch obstacles, such as administration, in order to play a stylish brand of football is a quality that sees them admired by other clubs and fans alike.
What can they do to stay at the top?
Since their opening day defeat against Liverpool on August 17th, Saints have been on a fantastic run of form that has seen them win four of the first 7 games in the league and advance to the fourth round of the League Cup – proving their pre-season doubters wrong. Whether the side can remain within reach of the title favorites however remains to be seen.
On Saturday, Sunderland make the long journey South to play Southampton and find themselves in a respectable 13th place. But with only one win under their belts, Saints will be hopeful of taking all three points from a side that are desperately searching for some striking prowess in a limited squad.
Elsewhere in the top four, Man City are the only side that could find themselves troubled as they face a Spurs side who are looking to register back-to-back wins following a victory against Southampton two weeks ago. Chelsea travel across London to face Crystal Palace and Manchester United travel to the Hawthorns on Monday night.
What do you think of Southampton’s start to the season? Could they stay up with the big guns or is this just a case of pure luck? Let us know in the comments below!