Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Southampton another team in the relegation mix

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 3 Jan 2018

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It seems the relegation battle in the Premier League changes week by week or in the case of the last week, day by day! Half of the top-flight seems to be intent on getting involved in the bottom of table drama.

The latest team to get involved in the relegation battle is Southampton. A 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace saw the Saints slip to 17th in the table. The south coast outfit are only above the relegation zone on goal difference.

Mauricio Pellegrino struggling to convince the fans

The Southampton hierarchy are usually pretty shrewd with their appointments of managers. It has been very rare in the last decade or so they have appointed a boss that has not achieved mild success at least.

Even the much-maligned Claude Puel got the Saints to the League Cup final, while also guiding the team to a respectable eighth position in the table.

The appointment of Argentinian boss Mauricio Pellegrino may just go down as a slight error in judgement. If you ask the majority of Saints fans about their team’s style of play, I doubt many would be positive about Pellegrino’s so-called style of play.

A lack of goals for the Saints

Southampton may not be the lowest scorers in the top-flight (the sixth-lowest). However, the Saints do not score enough goals and Pellegrino’s seemingly cautious style of play has not helped the team’s goal output.

The team from the south coast have scored just 21 league goals in their 22 matches in the Premier League this season. Any team with that sort of record is bound to find themselves at the wrong end of a table.

The fact that star striker Charlie Austin is sidelined for the next two months does not exactly help the Saints case. They need to add a striker to their squad in January, just as they did last January when they bought Manolo Gabbiadini.

The Italian has struggled to repeat his early goalscoring exploits for the team from the south coast this season. Not only do they need to recruit a new striker, boss Pellegrino needs to try to get more out of the mercurial trio of Sofiane Boufal, Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond.

All three have shown at various points of their careers that they can be very dangerous players to opposition teams. They are all wildly inconsistent, but with the right coaching, they could be key players for the Saints.

Even the likes James Ward-Prowse and Mario Lemina need to up their game to give their team a threat from midfield. However, it seems with Pellegrino in charge, the Saints are never going to be that effective going forward.

Should have enough quality to escape the drop

For me, Southampton have too much quality in their squad to suffer relegation. The big players will eventually produce big performances.

However, a run of nine games without a Premier League win has raised concerns about the team’s position in the table. The poor run of form has also seen the Saints odds to suffer relegation to shorten to 6/1.

The present situation is concerning and the fans let boss Pellegrino know just how they felt after the Palace defeat on Tuesday night. Whether he is the man to take the club forward or not, Southampton needs to bring in reinforcements this month.

A striker looks like the priority. However, half the league seems to be scratching around for that all-elusive prolific striker to score them enough goals to stay in the Premier League.

The Saints are terrible at the back, even after losing Dutch star Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool. They now have to use some of that money to strengthen the weak areas of the team to move away from the relegation dogfight.

If they do not and keep producing performances of a similar vein as recently, then they could struggle to make a break away from the danger zone.

Are Southampton realistic relegation candidates?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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