Why are Southampton on the verge of Premier League relegation?
31 January 2018, 12:40
Why are Southampton on the verge of Premier League relegation?

Since 2012, Southampton have been a consistent Premier League team. After a 14th place finish in the club's first season back in the top-flight, Southampton finished no lower than eighth in the four years that followed.

However, things are much different this season, and at the end of January, Southampton find themselves 18th in the league.

The Saints fall from the comfortable confines of midtable has come following a managerial change that saw Claude Puel sacked in preseason. Replaced after just one year in charge, Puel led the Saints to an eighth-place finish and a respectable Europa League campaign. Whether Puel wanted more backing from the club or the front office had delusions of grandeur, the Frenchman was replaced by Mauricio Pellegrino.

Pellegrino's signing came out of leftfield as the Argentinian had just come from Spanish side Alaves. Pellegrino had excelled at the tiny Spanish club, and his move to Southampton was a step up. Four Premier League wins is all Pellegrino has been able to accumulate as he has recorded a 22.2%-win rate in all competitions.

But to blame poor results on Pellegrino alone would be a mistake. Southampton are –11 in goal differential. Although the team has only given up 35 goals, Southampton have scored the eighth fewest in the Premier League (24). The team's defence took a hit this January with the sale of centre-back Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool. He recouped the club £75 million, but his departure was another example of Southampton's overexcitement when it comes to selling players. Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Victor Wanayama, Jay Rodriguez, Graziano Pelle and more players have been sold by Southampton in recent years. The ability to consistently find replacements for these fantastic players is nearly impossible. Southampton's willingness to sell their top stars is now coming back to haunt them.

There seems to have been expectations that Van Dijk would leave. Southampton acquired defenders Wesley Hoedt and Jan Bednarek ahead of the season. Hoedt has played 14 times so far, while Bednarek is yet to appear in a Premier League game.

At the other end of the pitch, Charlie Austin has led the way in goal scoring with six goals. The Saints desperately need Austin's fellow striker Manolo Gabbiadini to step up. The Italian has three goals in 21 appearances, but just 10 of those have been starts. Gabbiadini arrived last January from Napoli for £15m, but his Saints career has been much like his time back in Italy: inconsistent.

Southampton are paying for years of selling players. The well has almost certainly dried up for the Saints. The club have 14 matches left to save its Premier League life. Eight of those fixtures are against teams in ninth place or lower. Only eight points separates ninth place Everton and 20th place Swansea. Southampton have their future in their own hands. But the team must beat direct relegation rivals to remain in the Premier League another season.

Predictions for Premier League

Home team - Away team Tip
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Manchester City

25/08/2018 12:30
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Everton FC

25/08/2018 15:00
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West Ham

25/08/2018 15:00
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Cardiff City

25/08/2018 15:00

England Premier League - predictions, tips, statistics
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