Coming into this season, you couldn’t find a pundit outside of St. Mary’s stadium who would have given Southampton much of a shot this season.
Despite this, 11 games into the season, the Saints are second on the EPL table, trailing only Chelsea and outdoing the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal. Considering the players from last season no longer with the side via either loans or transfers, this effort to currently hold a Champions League spot is absolutely Herculean.
Looking at the current roster, just about every vital cog in the 2013-2014 8th place finish is onto supposedly greener pastures.
Luke Shaw, even though he may have been the alternate selection behind Leighton Baines, became the most expensive teenager in soccer history with his 25 million pound (Roughly 43 million US Dollar) transfer to struggling Manchester United.
Another English starlet, Adam Lallana, took off to Liverpool, where he was recruited as part of the Luis Suarez replacement crew, along with striker Ricky Lambert and Dejan Lovren.
With this, the Merseyside team effectively siphoned a player from each level of Southampton’s squad sheet and transplanted it across the nation.
So far, these moves, along with the late signing of Mario Balotelli, have failed to amount to much.
More pertinent, though, is the signing of Calum Chambers by Arsenal, who has been used often due to various injuries across Arsene Wenger’s backline, with varying levels of success.
To counter this, though, manager Ronald Koeman and the rest of the Southampton staff did quite the job to bring in new talent.
Up front, the Eredivisie duo of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle has worked wonders so far, as most clearly demonstrated in the early season 8-0 thumping of Sunderland. Additionally, Shane Long, the Irish striker arriving from Hull, had his first major impact in Saturday’s win over Leicester City.
In replacing Artur Boruc, Fraser Forster has done an immense job in protecting the net. This is not to say, however, that maintaining a Champions League spot will be a cakewalk; in the Premier League so far, the Saints have not played Chelsea or either Manchester team.
Similarly to Arsenal’s hot start last season, many fans around the world were wondering if the Gunners could keep up such a magical debut, which of course ultimately they could not.
Only time will tell, though, if the Saints await a different fate.
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