Southampton are starting to get the respect they deserve, perhaps it is a little forced, but having turned their form around of late and getting themselves back into the top four, pundits and fans alike have started to accept that this is not a fluke.
Sure, it’s backhanded at times ‘They won’t go away will they?’ was how Gary Lineker worded it on Match of the Day after goals from Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic gave Saints a 2-0 victory over Arsenal, but it is praise nonetheless. How long did Saints fans suffer the ‘They’ve only played the poor teams’ excuse from people looking to find some form of answer to the madness that was unfolding around them. Well I wonder how they feel now? We’ve played everyone once, Arsenal twice and if we win our next game we will leapfrog…
So here it is, the fourth and final part of my year in review of Saints, using only tweets. Hope you enjoyed it and I would like to wish everyone who has taken time to read any of the articles/calculated nonsense on this site in 2014 a Happy New Year!
Southampton were worthy winners at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, but now face the daunting prospect of the ‘Champion’s Elect’ Chelsea on Sunday.
There were plenty of positives for Ronald Koeman to take from the win at Palace though that should give everyone a boost before facing Jose Mourinho, Diego Costa, Edan Hazard and a host of other star players.
1) The Resurgance of Sadio Mane
Mane was impressive in his first few games for Saints, but as the teams form dipped so did his and he took the brunt of the blame in the stands. The problem with a winger of his style is that when things don’t come off they look poor. Any player that takes on defenders and uses pace and trickery is going to mess it up on occasion and they aren’t in the team…
In Saturday’s 8-0 hammering of Sunderland, our very own Dušan Tadić made history after breaking the weekly points record on European fantasy football game Oulala.
With a points matrix sourced from Opta the midfielder picked up a remarkable 151 points thanks to an excellent performance that included a goal, four assists, creating three big chances and supplying five successful crosses. The record was previously held by Carlos Vela who netted four goals for Real Sociedad last season in a 4-3 victory over Celta Vigo.
To sum up just how special Tadić’s performance was, Ronaldo’s top score this season was 140 points after scoring four goals against Elche in a 5-1 win and Lionel Messi scored 130 points when he scored two and assisted two in a 6-0 win over Granada. That’s some company our new signing is mixing with.
Oulala is a free to play, weekly European fantasy football game offering cool prizes to it’s top three managers every week. Oulala offers unique features such as a diverse scoring matrix and live in-play substitutions making it the closest fantasy football has ever got to reality. To register click here https://www.oulala.com/en/register
White Hart Lane plays host to high-flying Southampton this Sunday, in what is set to be a tough test for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Tottenham sit five points behind Southampton in the league and a win would allow them to close that gap and start to put pressure on the teams around them. Last season’s equivalent fixture saw Spurs clinch a last gasp 3-2 win, and this weekend’s encounter has the potential to be just as entertaining.
Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli has continued his prolific start to the season, scoring again against Arsenal in last weekend’s North London derby. Chadli now has 4 goals in 5 Premier League games, with a conversion rate of 36.4%, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Chadli is likely to start this weekend and there is no reason why he should not extend his run of goalscoring, should he produce similar performances to those he has displayed in recent weeks. Chadli is 17/2 with 888sport to be first goalscorer against Southampton.
The most involved player on the pitch so far this season has been Etienne Capoue. The majority of play has gone through the central midfield, and Capoue has made 417 successful passes thus far in the Premier League, the most of any Spurs player and fourth most in the division. The closest to him in the Tottenham squad is Christian Eriksen who has successfully completed 268 passes, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Another midfielder who Pochettino seemingly rates highly is Nabil Bentaleb. The Algerian has shown a particularly good work ethic this season and has recorded an average speed of 7.4km/h this season, the highest of any Spurs player who has played a full 90 minutes, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Throughout the summer, Tottenham were interested in Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, but the French midfielder is still lining up for Southampton this weekend, and his form so far this season vindicates the club’s decision to do all they could to hold on to him. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has scored three goals, won more tackles than anyone else in the squad (25) and covered more ground than any other Premier League player, running a total of 72.4km this season – and has arguably been their player of the season so far.
One player who would rival Schneiderlin for this title is Graziano Pellè. The imposing striker has the second most shots on target in the Premier League so far this season with ten, and he has been rewarded with four goals, ranking him third in the top-scorers list for the season, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Pellè is 7/4 to score at any time with 888sport.
He, along with Dusan Tadic have been revelations this season. Tadic already has three assists in his debut season in the Premier League. The winger has made ten successful crosses, which has played a large part in Pellè’s goalscoring form this season. Only Stewart Downing has delivered more successful balls in to the box than Tadic in the Premier League and the Serbian should prove a huge threat to the Spurs defence this weekend.
Someone said that once Tadic was signed it would be like dominoes in terms of incoming transfers. Well the first has fallen as Feyenoord forward Graziano Pellè has completed his move to the club.
It has hardly been a secret the Italian was on the verge of rejoining the coach who has overseen the two most successful seasons of his career in Holland, but what exactly is it that the club is investing in?
It’s taken a bit of time, but finally Pellè is a Saint. Is this the man to replace the talisman of the last five years (Rickie Lambert)?
WB ‘Pellè is a player I have admired for the past two seasons and I feel he is a perfect fit for the Premier League. At 6ft 4 inches, even though he is tall and physically strong, he is a delight to watch on the ball.’
There has been some talk of his hot temper. Given our experiences with Osvaldo, can this be tamed?
WB ‘I am unsure of Osvaldo as he is a player I have not followed but Pelle can be a hot head indeed. He has a great winning mentality and he can be explosive when things to do not go his way and has been known to sulk if his side are losing an important games.’
What are Pellè’s main strengths and weaknesses?
WB ‘He has a lot of strengths – excellent finishing, fantastic in the air, immense strength holding the ball up, great awareness. For weaknesses, the sulking and his temperament can be his only real downfalls.’
Forwards like Suarez and Bony have moved to the PL from Holland and been fantastic, van Wolfswinkel and Altidore not so much. Can Pellè make the transition?
WB ‘In my opinion, yes. A lot of strikers struggle with the pace and power of the Premier League – well the pace is faster in the Eredivisie and this guy is a massive 6ft 4 and immensely strong. Can he handle it, yes, if someone can get the ball crossed to him, he is beating that defender and the ball is ending up in the back of the net.’
Finally, both Tadic and Pellè have spoken of the ambition at Saints much like Koeman has. Are these players to take us up another level?
WB ‘Unsure about another level, as this is only two players in an eleven man team, and two players in a 20 man squad but they can certainly help out. If Southampton keep the ball on the ground, play football and do not resort to the long ball which many teams do here in England, Tadic will be a success. After watching Rickie Lambert, I know Pelle is a much classier striker and could surpass any successes the Scouser had for Southampton. The thought of Tadic and Pelle linking up is an exciting prospect, especially under Ronald Koeman. I will certainly focus on watching Southampton next year… when I find the time to watch the Premier League that is.’
So there we have it! Thanks to Jacco and Will for helping with this, make sure you check out wijzijnfeijenoord.nl and totaldutchfootball.com! Can’t wait for the next domino to fall…
In what has been a turbulent few weeks, especially since England limped out of the World Cup without so much as a fight, some incoming transfer news at St. Mary’s has been a long time coming…
…but it’s finally here and Serbian international Dušan Tadić becomes the first new face of the Ronald Koeman era.
Joining from FC Twente for a fee believed to be in the region of €13 million. Saints have seemingly shaken off competition from Everton, Sevilla and Shalke 04 to secure a player that some have labelled ‘the best in the Eredivisie.’
It’s dragged for a few days, but Dušan Tadić is now a Southampton player. Is this a good move for Saints?
WB ‘100% yes! In my opinion Tadić was the best player in the Eredivisie last year and Ronald Koeman obviously thinks the same to part with such a hefty fee.’
EdG ‘I would say it is, yes. He’s been the best player in the Eredivisie for the last two years. Tadić is a model professional, rarely missing a game and a role model for the youngsters with his positive attitude.’
Many have touted him as a potential Adam Lallana replacement. What type of player is he?
WB ‘A very handy left winger but also at home in the number 10 role. He’s intelligent, hard working, an assist machine and a goal scorer. Potential Lallana replacement? Maybe… he has all the credentials to pull it off.’
EdG ‘He’s been the creative spark for Twente in the past two seasons. Always an eye for his teammates. Gifted with the insight to play killer balls and key passes. His assist tally is impressive, but it could’ve been much, much higher. The FC Twente strikers tend to miss a lot of chances.’
What would you say are his main strengths and weaknesses?
WB ‘As I am such an admirer of Tadić, no real weaknesses spring to mind. He is a great crosser with exceptional passing. Throughout his career in the Eredivisie, his deliveries from corners and free-kicks have resulted in goals after goals. Combine this with the capability to cut inside and carve up any defence with a killer ball, provides you the main reasons for his many assists. Great movement, great speed and a great penalty taker.’
EdG ‘Main strengths: Key pass, through balls, very strong left foot. 100% conversion rate of penalties, free kicks, crosses, work rate, influence, attitude and one of his biggest strengths: Opponents can’t get him off the ball when he’s in possession.
Weaknesses: The Twente coaching staff told him he has to go for his own chance a bit more, rather than laying the ball off. Defensively he’s not very strong.’
Do you think he will be able to convert his Eredivisie form to the Premier League?
WB ‘Like I say about every player coming over here from a different league – it may take time. However, he has the speed and strength to harass any full-back so he may adapt quickly to the hustle and bustle of going to the Brittania on a rainy Monday night.’
EdG ‘He’ll be ok. As long as you keep playing your attacking football, that’s where he’s best. I’ve no doubt he will fit in. It’s a big step, but if one player can do it, it’s Tadic.’
This is hopefully the first of many players coming into Saints, perhaps mainly from Holland, how is that perceived over there?
WB ‘Unsure how it’s perceived but imagine Southampton will be a club they will follow with a Dutch legend like Ronald Koeman at the helm.’
EdG ‘Good question. I don’t think it matters too much to fans in the Netherlands. It’s our faith to lose players to the bigger leagues like the Premier League, so we’re kind of used to it. We’ll always have bright new talents in the Netherlands.’
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like we have signed a pretty exciting player to me! Thanks to Will and Erwin for their time. Make sure you checkout TotalDutchFootball.com for future features on Koeman and his targets!
I get the feeling this is the first signing of many…..
The Southampton Football Club Blog that doesn't like to take itself too seriously!