Many have said they could be pushing for European football next season, whether in the Europa League or even Champions League – something which is still a possibility but they need a turnaround. Fast.
They are repeating last season’s winter meltdown as they won just once in nine games over the Christmas period in the 2013/14 season, with a real dip in form starting after November 23.
This year it’s started to go wrong a day later, on November 24. The Saints have not won since then and are facing four more tricky games in a similar nine-game run over Christmas this year.
After a summer of mass exodus, seeing top players like Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren leave for big money, as well as manager Mauricio Pochettino, it would have been easy to predict a demise on what was a good season last term.
And although they defied all odds under Ronald Koeman to begin with, they haven’t won in their last five games in the Premier League, four of which were defeats. Until as recently as 24 November the highflying Saints were just six points behind the leaders, and still ahead of City.
League table on November 24:
Current table on December 15:
|4||West Ham United||16||8||4||4||27||19||8||28|
We can see the differences between how they had been performing compared to now in the space of around three weeks.
Southampton did have a tough three game period, playing Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. But their most surprising recent result was this weekends – an away defeat to Burnley.
Southampton’s winless streak:
Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton (24/11/14)
Southampton 0-3 Manchester City (30/11/14)
Arsenal 1-0 Southampton (03/12/14)
Southampton 1-2 Manchester United (08/12/14)
Burnley 1-0 Southampton (13/12/14)
It would appear they have just lost their confidence, and perhaps their emphatic start to the season is catching up with them. The free flowing play and goalscoring has been lacking and defensive mistakes have crept in.
Koeman will be disappointed with his side’s performances of late and needs a good result this weekend against Everton to get things back on track.
The Saints travel to Bramall Lane to take on Sheffield United in the League Cup this week and the Blades have been in solid form, so it’s a game Koeman’s men could possibly do without.
Will Southampton recover their form and finish in a European place at the end of the season?