Back

Southampton bubble will not burst for a Long time says striker

Southampton, 9/2 chances with Coral for a top four finish this term, have finally got a monkey off their backs. By beating Everton 3-0 in their last outing before Christmas, they have put to bed an unwanted stat.

In Premier League action, the south coast side had failed to beat any of the seven teams that finished above them last season until that comprehensive home win.

A first victory in seven across all competitions for Ronald Koeman has prompted one of his summer signings, Shane Long, to hit back at critics that used their difficulties when battling the big boys as a stick to beat them with.

When asked if Saints’ bubble had burst, Republic of Ireland striker Long said: “I think lots of people don’t have a clue what they are talking about, saying stuff like that. I think if you’d come to watch us and seen the games, you would be happy with the performances.

“You’d be disappointed with the results, like we were, but we knew that if we kept doing the right things that things would turn our way and we’d get that rub of the green and take our chances when they come.

“That was the case against Everton. I think after the first goal we kind of played a bit more freely and caused them a lot of problems.”

Trouncing the Toffees will certainly have helped to restore confidence at St Mary’s, which is all to the good as assignments are not getting any easier hereafter.

Following a Boxing Day trip to Crystal Palace, Koeman’s Southampton tackle Premier League leaders Chelsea and perennial top four finishers Arsenal in back-to-back home games. Away days at Manchester United and Newcastle United follow in the New Year, with successive home games against West Ham United and Liverpool coming up in mid-Feburary.

Saints remain a popular side with punters because of their attractive approach play, retaining a best of British core and as summer signings have made an immediate impact. England duo Nathaniel Clyne and Fraser Forster have enhanced their international prospects by performing for the club, for example.

Such is the start made by Koeman that he is linked with a sensational winter window swoop for compatriot and Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder. While the Dutch manager may have moved to scotch speculation, that is a sign of how well they have done.

Taking Eredivisie talents like Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle to Southampton and seeing them flourish has proved erudite on Koeman’s part. Long is right to lambaste the nay-sayers, then.

Players do not become bad overnight. Form is temporary and class is permanent. If you want any more evidence of that fact, look at Southampon’s odds-on 4/5 to finish in the top six.