Wasn’t Southampton Supposed to be Bad?


Wait, wasn’t Southampton supposed to be bad? At least that’s what all the pundits and talking heads said about them before the start of the season.  Southampton was living on borrowed time in the Premier League and by season end, they were expected be relegated back down to the Championship.  

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On Saturday, the Saints demolished actual relegation candidates Sunderland 8-0. They made it even more clear that not only is Southampton not bad, they are actually pretty good.

After eight weeks of the EPL season, Southampton sit in third place, only one point behind Manchester City and ahead of teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.  But how is this possible? Didn’t the Saints sell off their best players in the transfer window?

It’s true, several players left Saint Mary’s this summer, but if we take a look into the players they lost and one’s they brought in, I think it will become clear that this year’s team is actually an improvement over last season.


Out: Rickie Lambert

In: Graziano Pelle

Southampton sold their top goal scorer from last season, Rickie Lambert to Liverpool and replaced him with Graziano Pelle.  Lambert was quietly one of the best goal scorers in the EPL over the past two seasons since Southampton was promoted, but this season with Liverpool, he has been almost non-existent.  Lambert is still looking for his first goal with his new club, while his replacement back in Southampton has already scored six goals in his first eight matches in the EPL.

Pelle scored 50 goals in his past two seasons in the Eredivisie and even though some players are not able to keep on in their scoring ways after leaving the Dutch league (yes, I am talking about Jozy Altidore), Pelle has had no problem finding the back of the net.  Not to mention Pelle is three years younger than Lambert and should be able to contribute for a few additional years than Lambert.

Verdict: Southampton Wins

Score: Southampton +1


Out: Adam Lallana

In: Dusan Tadic

In similar fashion to the players above, Adam Lallana left Southampton for Liverpool and to replace him, the Saints brought over Dusan Tadic from the Eredivisie.  Both are about the same age and both have played in the World Cup for their respective nations.  So far this season Dusan Tadic has looked great in support of the Southampton attack.  Up in Liverpool, Adam Lallana spent the first part of the season on the bench nursing an injury, but since he has been back, he has looked just as good as he did when he was back at Southampton.

It’s tough to call this one because Lallana has been injured but if I was to judge the two players based on potential, I think Lallana gets the nod.  Both players are able to create chances for their team and take chances when available, but if Lallana is able to play at his best, I think he is slightly better than Tadic, but not by much.  One thing that is in Southampton’s favor is that Tadic only cost the club 11 million pounds, while Lallana was sold for 25 million.  So even though Lallana gets the win here, Southampton gets a player of similar quality and some money in the bank. (But this story about Lallana did make me laugh)

Verdict: Southampton Losses

Score: Even


Out: Calum Chambers

In: Nathaniel Clyne

Southampton may have sold the 19 year old Calum Chambers to Arsenal, but going back to last year, it was clear that their first choice at right back was Nathaniel Clyne.  No Clyne is not new to the club in fact he has been around since their promotion into the EPL two seasons ago and has been their Right Back ever since. Losing Chambers may not have been ideal, but when you are able to sell your backup Right Back for 16 million pounds, sounds to me like a win for Southampton.

Chambers is young and his youth has shown through this year for Arsenal.  He has potential and will likely become a great Right Back for Arsenal, but the more experienced Nathaniel Clyne has been able to continue his solid play for the Saints, just as he did last season when Chambers was sitting on the bench behind him.

Verdict: Southampton Wins

Score: Southampton +1


Out: Dejan Lovren

In: Toby Alderweireld

Make it one more player who left Southampton for Liverpool.  Dejan Lovren, the Croatian Center Back, was an important part of Southampton’s success last season. But so far this season with Liverpool, he looks confused and frustrated.  On the other side, Southampton brought in Toby Alderweireld on loan from Atletico Madrid.  And whereas Lovren has looked out of place, Alderweireld has fit right into the Southampton system.

Even though Alderweireld was not a first team choice for Atleti he was a member of the team that won La Liga last season and came within minutes of the Champions League title.  This experience may come in handy throughout the season as Southampton looks to compete for a spot in Europe. He may not be the Saints long term solution, but so far, he has been the answer they need.

Verdict: Southampton Wins

Score: Southampton +2

So in the end, even though the belief was that Southampton sold their team away in the summer and their hopes at being competitive along with those players, according to my simple analysis, the Saints have actually improved.  Not to mention they made a cool 34 million pounds, which puts them in position to only get better.  When it’s all said and done, Southampton is not going to win a title this year, but it’s becoming more and more clear that they won this summer’s transfer window.