2014/15 Premier League Season Review: Southampton

Premier League Final Position: 7th

Review

It’s hard to know where to start with describing how impressive Southampton’s season has been. From the incredible management by Ronald Koeman to the destruction of Sunderland at St Mary’s combined with the fantastic defensive solidity are just a few of the many highlights to draw upon. The Saints came into this campaign as potential relegation candidates after a summer exodus saw a number of key players departing. But you cannot praise enough just how well they’ve performed, and if Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final, a place in the Europa League awaits, and it’s nothing less than they deserve.

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Podcast Review

Best Moment

Back-to-back wins against Arsenal and Manchester United – Southampton convincingly swept the Gunners aside at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic. Ten days later, they put in an impressive, steely performance at Old Trafford and secured a 1-0 win with another goal from Tadic marking a truly excellent stage of the Saints’ season as they showed they can compete with top sides home and away. Those two games also came after a well-earned draw at home to Chelsea.

Worst Moment

The 1-0 defeat at home to Swansea at the beginning of February – Southampton were still clinging on to a Champions League spot in the table heading into that game. A draw would’ve kept them a point ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, but a late Jonjo Shelvey strike sunk Saints hearts and left them level with the Gunners. It was the first moment in the season that they let the chasing pack in through the back door and it was also the game that began their dip in form.

Player of the Year

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Jose Fonte – The skipper has consistently been a rock at the back with 37 appearances and was a key figure in orchestrating strong defensive performances. Southampton boast the second best defensive record this season, conceding just 33 goals – only Chelsea conceded fewer (32).

Biggest Win

Southampton 8-0 Sunderland (Oct 10, 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Southampton 0-3 Manchester City (Nov 30, 2014)

What to improve for the 2015/16 season…

Southampton’s form in the last third of the season wasn’t great, and away from home in particular they suffered massively. Koeman’s side won just five of their last 16 games (D3, L8). They also failed to win any of their last seven Premier League away fixtures (D1, L6), scoring just three goals and conceding 11. Performances in the latter stages of the season will be an area that needs addressing.

With the potential added commitment of the Europa League next season, they will need to learn quickly how to deal with a congested fixture list.

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Liverpool set to make move for £4m-rated Premier League star – report

Liverpool are looking to raid Southampton for the second successive summer as they line up a move for Portuguese centre-back Jose Fonte, according to the Daily Mirror.

Brendan Rodgers wants Fonte to replace Kolo Toure at Anfield as the Ivorian’s contract expires at the end of the season, while Martin Skrtel has yet to pen a new deal with just over 12 months to run on his.

Fonte has been exceptional under Ronald Koeman this season and has appeared in 35 of the Saints’ 36 games, helping the club to boast the second best defensive record in the top flight.

The 31-year-old defender was made Southampton captain last summer when Adam Lallana left to join the Reds, and a move to Liverpool would see Fonte reunite with Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert too.

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Fonte has two years left on his Saints contract but could be available at the right price as Koeman looks to reshape his squad this summer.

He is valued at £4 million by transfermarkt.co.uk and could be a cheap option for Rodgers to explore as he looks to bolster his backline ahead of next season.

Southampton will not want a repeat of last summer where several first-team stars left the club in quick succession. Jay Rodriguez penned a new contract on Tuesday, while talks are ongoing to keep Nathaniel Clyne at St Mary’s next year.

Fonte could be in high demand though as Manchester United and former club Benfica are both also interested in the powerful centre-back.

Would Jose Fonte be a good signing for Liverpool?

Manchester United star reveals Liverpool duo two of the best he’s played against

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw has revealed that Liverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard are two of the best players he has played against in his career so far.

The 19-year-old left-back, who joined United from Southampton last summer, has told the club’s official website about some of the best stars he has come up against and has included the two Reds leaders in his selections.

Shaw believes Henderson is the fittest player he has faced and feels that Gerrard is the best passer that he has played against.

Henderson has played more Premier League games than any other Liverpool player this season and has stepped up his game in the heart of the Reds midfield, while Gerrard has registered an average pass success rate of 86%.

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The young defender did not feature in last week’s vital 2-1 win at Anfield as he is currently dealing with a hamstring problem. He has made 13 league appearances for the Red Devils since joining and is expected to be back for the home game against Aston Villa next weekend.

Shaw went on to add that former Liverpool hero, Luis Suarez is the best finisher he has come up against, while Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale is the fastest player the youngster has faced.

He also revealed that Stoke City’s Jon Walters is the toughest tackler he has played, while also giving credit to former teammate Jose Fonte for his tackling, saying “he loved a tackle.”

What have you made of Luke Shaw since his move to United? What do you make of his choices above?

Stats: Southampton duo the most effective Premier League centre-backs

Southampton currently have the best defence in the Premier League this season having conceded fewer goals than any other team.

The Saints have let in just 21 goals from their 30 games, four less than the team with the next best back line, which is Chelsea who have conceded 25.

Captain Jose Fonte has missed just one game for Ronald Koeman‘s side in the 2014/15 campaign and he is currently leading the way as the centre-back with the most clean sheets – a total of 14.

Here is the numbers breakdown for the best six Premier League centre-backs based on those with a minimum of 15 appearances and the amount of goals their respective teams have conceded per-game when they play.

Best PL Centre Backs

Best Premier League centre-backs in 2014/15 (stats via Squawka)

Jose Fonte’s teammate Toby Alderweireld is statistically the most effective central defender in the division with the fewest goals conceded-per-game. The Belgian is on-loan from Spanish side Atletico Madrid and also boasts the best record for games-per-clean sheet.

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Arsenal‘s Laurent Koscielny is the next most impressive when it comes to the amount of goals conceded-per-game, although Chelsea defensive partners John Terry and Gary Cahill have shown why the Blues are top of the league as they have the next best games-per-clean-sheet ratio after Alderweireld and Fonte.

Perhaps unexpectedly, Manchester City‘s Eliaquim Mangala statistically has the sixth best record out of the Premier League’s centre-backs and is the most consistent successful passer of the ball, alongside John Terry with a pass completion ratio of 89%.

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Mangala also wins more tackles than the other five, while Alderweireld makes the most blocks and Koscielny the most interceptions.

The most surprising absentee from the top six centre-backs is probably Vincent Kompany. The Man City skipper concedes an average of one goal-per-game and has managed seven clean sheets at an average of three games-per-clean sheet.

Who is the best centre-back in the Premier League?