Because I support Southampton.
Because I support Southampton.
Saints head to the North East this weekend defending a superb unbeaten record on the road so far this season. Cause to be optimistic of a positive result then? Nope.
While this season’s travels may have been fruitful, it is hard to ignore Saints’ abysmal record on Wearside. Even after the mesmeric 8-0 home victory over the Black Cats last season, the trip to the Stadium of Light brought with it no more expectancy than usual. Why? Because we never win at Sunderland.
I say ‘never’, and that of course isn’t true, but it’s as near as dammit. Saints last won there in January 2003, James Beattie scored the only goal and Franny Benali was at left back! The win previous to that was also 0-1, Egil Ostenstad’s 1997 strike overcoming a Sunderland side containing Chris Waddle and still resident at Roker Park. Seriously.
The win previous to that? 1983 via a Steve Moran brace.
Sure, there have been a number of seasons in which the two clubs have not been in the same division, but three wins in 32 years is poor by anyone’s standards.
Traditionally Saints struggle in the North East (3 wins against Newcastle and 5 against Middlesbrough in the same 32 year period) and in return those sides struggle on the South Coast. This was long put down to the effects of travelling the distance, but in this modern age, that is surely no longer an excuse (although it might explain the FC Midtjylland debacle).
Right now Sunderland don’t have as good a team as Southampton. I don’t think even the most dedicated Mackem would argue that point but yet again it is a fixture that I symbolically write off in my head as a no hoper. Unsupportive? Sure. Pessimistic? Of course, but not without good reason.
As someone rightly pointed out on twitter to me today, historically for Saints ‘teams that are there for the taking’ (as Sunderland undoubtedly are right now) are usually our downfall. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the team that Ronald built is capable of beating anyone on their day, but there is just something about the North East that causes are soft Southern persona’s to freeze more often than not.
Perhaps it is the cold, or maybe the Smog, the often unintelligible accents or the fear of our beloved ponies (one for any skates that swim by) getting headbutted. I’m not sure. All I know is that I never expect anything from a trip to Sunderland.
Sam Allardyce’s side have won just one of their nine games this season, the North East derby, and have conceded seven goals in their four home games. Surely Saints, this is the year? Please?
I won’t get my hopes up.
For years Southampton have been the victims of terrible refereeing decisions.
Whether it was in terms of clear penalties being denied us, and being punished for those that clearly weren’t or hideous offside calls and a plethora of other injustices, I was told by those that support the traditional ‘big’ clubs that ‘it all evens itself out at the end of the season’.
My stock response to this was always the same. Nonsense. It might do for you, it certainly doesn’t for us; but recent events have made me ponder whether Saints elevated position this season is starting to make that suggestion a reality.
Are the officials now treating us like one of the big boys? We’ve been in and around the top four now since early September and it suddenly feels like we are getting the odd rub…
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Please submit your player ratings for the Newcastle United game here:-
Saints head to St. James’ Park for Saturday’s Premier League evening kick off knowing they will have to banish another poor stadium record to the annals of history, much like they did last weekend at Old Trafford.
Given the form of both teams, a Newcastle United victory seems as incomprehensible as the lyrics to Lindisfarne’s ‘Fog on the Tyne’ and as unlikely as Mike Ashley being given the freedom of the city. However, this is not a ground where Saints fare well and amongst the furore of recent results, a point would be an extremely positive result at the end of an arduous week travelling wise.
Ronald Koeman has a midfield dilemma to sort out, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama both injured this week, so it will be interesting to see if he throws the returning…
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Newcastle United v Southampton – Saturday 17th January 17:30
This weekend will see Newcastle look to get back to winning ways having suffered a defeat to league leaders Chelsea in their last outing. The Geordies sit in tenth place in the league at the moment and will look to solidify their position with another victory this weekend.
Newcastle will look to please the toon faithful with a victory this weekend, and there is nothing that fans like to see more than hard work. The EA SPORTS Player Performance can highlight that Jack Colback has been an instant hit in Newcastle having covered a squad best 232.9km already this term. That hard work will be vital in an engine room going up against Southampton’s talented array of midfielders.
Moussa Sissoko will join him in midfield, and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index also demonstrates what a fabulous season he is having in the black and white stripes. Sissoko has proved his box to box nature by bagging two goals, winning 63.3% of his 30 tackles and racking up 580 completed passes, with an accuracy of 79.3%.
At the back, yet also a threat going forward, Daryl Janmaat has had a great first half to his debut season on Tyneside. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights that he has won 57 tackles so far this term, winning 76% of his tackles overall, racking up 52 clearances and 48 interceptions. Having already found the net once this season, he is 15/1 to score anytime with 888sport.com.
This weekend’s visitors to St. James’ Park will come into the Saturday fixture brimming with confidence after a fantastic victory at Old Trafford saw them leapfrog the Manchester side and climb into third place. The Saints are now unbeaten in five, winning four of those matches, and will look to make it five wins from six.
A massive part of their form has been keeper Fraser Forster, as Southampton have the best defensive record in the league. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index can reveal that the England international shot stopper has now made 42 saves this season, at an average of 2.8 saves per goal conceded. He will be looking to keep his third consecutive clean sheet.
It should be no great surprise that Dusan Tadic was Southampton’s match winner last weekend, as explained by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He has had a fine debut campaign with the Saints, netting three times and also completing a squad best 34 crosses. He will both be a danger in front of goal and when he looks to turn provider.
One man who will thrive off that service is Graziano Pelle. The Saints top scorer has been in scintillating form this season, as demonstrated by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He has now scored eight times, converting 36.3% of his 22 shots on target. Like Tadic, he has the ability to both score and turn provider having also racked up five assists. He is 16/4 to score anytime with 888sport.com.
Data supplied by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Select and manage your own team of stars at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/ or with FIFA Ultimate team.
Another year almost gone, and another one that has been more than just a ‘roller coaster’ ride for Southampton Football Club.
I thought I would review it in the laziest and most modern way possible, via tweets! Apologies in advance if anyone is made to feel foolish by their historic comments!
Katharina Liebherr: “With great regret we have accepted the resignation of Mr Cortese.” #saintsfc
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 15, 2014
— Angus (@ascully97) January 15, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 25, 2014
If I was writing the 2013/14 #saintsfc script. Guly scores the winner in the FA Cup final as his last act as a Saints player….
— Chris Rann (@crstig) February 13, 2014
Not sure why ppl blaming Poch, the starting 11 were capable of winning. If players wanted it that badly they would have turned up #saintsfc
— Neil (@saints247) February 16, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 27, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 5, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 12, 2014
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) March 30, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 29, 2014
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 29, 2014
To be continued……
Well, it wasn’t quite as draw out a transfer saga as the ‘Victor Wanyama Episode’ last summer, but with Celtic’s Champion’s League reprieve it began to feel like it would never happen, but he is here and I think everyone involved is relieved!
Welcome to St. Mary’s Fraser Forster!
Linking up again with Goalkeeping coach Dave Watson from the England setup, Forster has built a formidable record as Celtic goalkeeper, breaking records along the way and now the stopper ranks at Saints look to have far more depth.
As is now tradition I spoke to those who know more about him than me and caught up with Celtic blogger Stephen Taylor from Drop of the Shoulder and Norwich City fan and Club Metro colleague Gary Gowers from My Football Writer to get the not so low (he’s 6’7″) down.
In the league Forster kept a Scottish record 13 clean sheets in a row, culminating in 1256 minutes, just 55 short of Edwin van der Saar’s all-time UK record. I know people may think it is easy to keep clean sheets playing for Celtic, especially since Rangers demise has left the SPL a one team league, but if you have seen us play over recent years you will have noted how ropey our defending is at times, and on numerous occasions it has been left to Forster to bail them out.’
If anyone was still doubting the credentials of the potential England World Cup players at Saints, surely they were put to bed in Saturday’s emphatic victory over Newcastle United?
Saints put in an immaculate attacking performance, mainly due to the superb play of the attacking three, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez.
Adam Lallana is a shoe-in for the squad, I’m sure of that, and people are just starting to believe that not only should he be guaranteed his place on the proverbial plane, but that Roy Hodgson should be finding a place for him in the starting eleven. If there is an English player around at the moment playing as well as Lallana in the support role, ripping defences to shreds with intricate skill and footballing brain, then I haven’t seen them.
I’m fed up of bigging up Luke Shaw. He is the best left back in the Premier League right now, coupling immaculate defensive performances with attacking runs that scare defences to death. He is consistently superb and England have already seen a 45 minute glimpse of how good he is. I have a feeling he will make the final squad, and it will be a surprise to everybody but Saints fans.
In terms of the two Saints forwards I’m not quite so confident that they will make the cut, though it will be criminal if they don’t.
Despite his excellent all round play, ability on the ball, superb passing, team focus and a Premier League assist record this season that is only bettered by Luis Suarez, Rickie Lambert still can’t shake the constant comparison with Andy Carroll, and some, particularly the English press believe it is a 50/50 shout between the two. What planet are these people on? If all those qualities I’ve listed aren’t enough, you can throw in the added bonus of goals. Lambert is twice the footballer Carroll is, and if the West Ham forward is preferred it will say everything about the progression, or lack thereof in English football.
Jay Rodriguez, has had a superb season, infinitely better than Danny Welbeck’s, sadly though I think he will always find himself behind the Man Utd forward in the pecking order. Rodriguez can do all the things that Welbeck can do, with the added bonus of goals. Surely the England manager will go with form?
Get ready for the World Cup with JD Sports:- http://www.jdsports.co.uk/
If Roy Hodgson doesn’t see the individual qualities of the Saints players perhaps their team dynamic might attract him. I’ve long been an advocate of using successful club partnerships to the advantage of the national team. An England team with John Terry and Gary Cahill at centre half with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park and Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert playing a support three to Daniel Sturridge in his rightful position up top doesn’t sound bad does it? We could do a lot worse, and so often do.
Hopefully the England manager will see sense and utilise players from clubs like Liverpool and Southampton as much as he can. These are the clubs playing football in the way we should be aiming to as a national team, so it makes sense to bring them in. Surely we won’t go to Brazil, the home of ‘sexy football’ and lump it up to Andy Carroll?
Keep the Faith.
Everyone loves a stat don’t they? I know I do, and that is why I was chuffed when the guys from kickoff.co.uk offered to put together a season preview for me using their expertise. So dear reader, settle back and prepare to be dazzled by the numbers and enjoy!
Will the Saints go marching on?
‘Second season syndrome’ is a phrase regularly bandied around at Premier League level, with the perception being that promoted clubs are more vulnerable to relegation after their opponents have had a year to get used to facing them.
Southampton find themselves in that position ahead of the new campaign, so I thought I’d take a look back at their 2012/13 season and highlight both what they did well and any areas in which I feel they can improve.
The Saints finished 14th in the final table, yet they were the tenth highest scorers in the division with 49 goals from their 38 matches. Rickie Lambert was responsible for 15 of these strikes, benefitting from being the focal point at the top of their attacking formation.
Both Mauricio Pochettino and Nigel Adkins before him encouraged a positive brand of football, with this being reflected by the fact that Southampton found the net in 29 (76%) of their top-flight fixtures. This achievement is furnished with additional kudos when you consider that this represented the best record outside of the top-seven.
Furthermore, the men from the South Coast scored in all eight of their meetings with the eventual Champions League qualifiers:
As the chart above also shows, home wins were achieved against two of the top-three, whilst only late brilliance from Robin van Persie handed Manchester United victory at St. Mary’s.
This shows that Southampton can mix it with the big boys, on their own patch at least, but they also managed to remain unbeaten against teams finishing in their quarter of the final table:
Although six of these games ended all-square, it is certainly worth noting that only Fulham picked up more points (13) from meetings between members of this quintet.
The Saints were similarly strong in matches in which they opened the scoring, winning eight, drawing six and losing four of these encounters. When you consider that half of these defeats came against the eventual champions, then that record starts to look even better.
Draws were undoubtedly a problem, with only Everton and Stoke managing more than the 14 picked up by Southampton. Although the team shone offensively, there was a lack of support for Lambert in the scoring stakes; no other player contributed in excess of six league goals.
Another major issue would have to be the defensive frailty displayed by the South Coast outfit. Just seven clean sheets were kept in 38 games, with four of these coming against the six sides that finished below them in the table.
Winning at the top clubs is never easy, but five draws and eight defeats from 13 trips to those that finished above them hints at fundamental flaws in the Saints’ approach to away matches. Could this be the result of some kind of mental block or is it the end product of an overly-positive tactical approach on the road?
Whatever the reason, it is hard to offer up anything other than complacency as an excuse for Southampton losing at home to three of the bottom-four last season:
Alarm bells also start to ring when we take a look at results from games in which the men from Hampshire conceded first. Eleven of these 17 fixtures ended in defeat, with the 4-1 hammering of Aston Villa representing the only success achieved on the back of going 1-0 down.
Perhaps the most damning statistic of all, however, is just how easy opponents found it to convert their chances against the Saints:
As you can see, nearly one in five of the shots that Southampton allowed resulted in a goal being scored against them. Only relegated Wigan fared worse in this category, and that by the narrowest of margins, whilst Newcastle were the nearest club in the other direction.
The incomings at St. Mary’s this summer should certainly provide the supporters with plenty of encouragement. Croatian international centre-back Dejan Lovren arrives from Lyon, whilst Victor Wanyama has won rave reviews for his performances at Celtic.
Although I have only seen Lovren in action once, in the Europa League at White Hart Lane last season, he comes highly-rated and has already won close to 20 caps for his country.
Young Wanyama has been far more on my radar, however, producing a string of top-class performances both domestically and on the Champions League stage from his natural position in the middle of the park.
These additions, along with the continued development of Luke Shaw, should help to address some of the aforementioned defensive issues, though the squad as a whole is an extremely young one:
This perfectly feasible starting XI, for example, would boast an average age of just 24 years and nine months come the start of the season.
One more signing in a forward area could be made with a view to easing the burden on Rickie Lambert, but I don’t actually believe this to be necessary. Jay Rodriguez started to blossom when given a run in the team, albeit not in his preferred position, whilst Emmanuel Mayuka is a real talent. I would be interested to hear what Southampton supporters have made of the Zambian in his fleeting cameos, because he has impressed me greatly on the international stage.
If the previous campaign is anything to go by, then a difficult start awaits:
If we exclude home games with the newly-promoted duo of Crystal Palace and Hull, then it becomes apparent that the Saints failed to win any of the equivalent 11 fixtures during 2012/13.
I must admit that I have my doubts about Pochettino and his high-pressing style, but I have a lot of faith in the group of players that has been assembled at St. Mary’s. This is a squad capable of pushing for a place in the top-ten, but whether or not they achieve that is open to debate.’
Thanks to Charles and Rob from kickoff.co.uk for compiling this!