How Good Are Saints?
Everybody’s talking about Southampton at the moment and with good reason. The Saints hit the headlines last weekend when snatching a late equaliser against champions Manchester United, but have been playing so well this season that it was hardly a massive shock.
Nigel Adkins did a great job bringing Southampton back up into the Premier League, but Mauricio Poccetino has taken them to a whole new level and has ambitions to take them higher – all the way to the Champions League.
With just one defeat from their opening eight games, the secret of Southampton’s success has been a defence that not only has the best record in the Premiership, but also second only to Roma in the major European leagues. They have let in just three goals this campaign and that compares to three per game at this same stage last season.
They are also better going forward than their meagre return so far of eight goals would indicate. Rickie Lambert has impressed Roy Hodgson enough to be called up for England, while the talented Adam Lallana, though 20/1 with Coral, is not a million miles away from making the World Cup squad
Coral rate Southampton 40/1 shots to finish in the top four this season and even if that proves a step too far, they should certainly finish around the sixth place they currently occupy and provide stern tests for all the main title contenders,
They face away games at Arsenal and Chelsea a few games down the line, but before that they have four very winnable games, starting with Fulham at home this Saturday.
Fulham have been buoyed by their 4-1 win at Crystal Palace last Monday, a result which took them clear of the relegation zone, if only for the time being. The highlight of their victory, of course, was the wonderful strike from Pajtim Kasami, who is 5/1 with Coral to be on the scoresheet again and a million to one to score one as good in the rest of his career.
With Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent also offering goal threats, Fulham should never be written off lightly, but this is a much bigger test for them than that presented by a struggling Palace side and manager Martin Jol will surely be happy if they can come away from the south coast with a point, especially with Man United at home and Liverpool away next on the agenda.
This looks good for Southampton (4/7) and perhaps this will be the day they spread their wings and grab a few goals. 3-0 or 3-1 (both 12/1) are quite feasible outcomes.