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The Course Of The Southampton Season Has Changed In The Last 7 Games
Tuesday, 23rd Jan 2024 11:00

A few months ago I suggested that the Xmas period and beyond would be the time that Saints would flourish due to the quality and quantity of the squad, on 16th December Saints played the first of 7 games that would see just that happen.

After our 1-1 draw at Coventry City on 13th December, some were prophesising that our chances of automatic promotion were all but over after this round of midweek fixtures, the table was as follows after 21 games.

Leicester 52 points GD 27
Ipswich 51 points GD 19
Leeds 41 points GD 15
Saints 39 points GD 4

Things were not looking too good for us at this stage both in terms of our points total that saw us 12 points behind Ipswich in the second automatic promotion spot.

But here we are 7 games later and the table looks a lot different and from a Southampton perspective a lot more healthy

Leicester 66 points GD 34
Ipswich 59 points GD 16
Saints 58 points GD 21
Leeds 54 points GD 24

In just over a month the 7 games each side has played has yielded 19 points for Saints, 14 points for Leicester, 13 points for Leeds & just 8 for Ipswich.

In the space of these 7 games we have gone from automatic promotion outsiders to favourites and as I mentioned back in the Autumn, it is all about the depth of our squad, we have the ability not just to replace an injured or suspended player with one of similar quality, but when we make substitutions we are bringing on experienced players at this level and higher. not to mention an up and coming youngster or two.

As we headed towards Xmas it looked a two horse race for the top two spots, now Ipswich are in a slide and Leicester are suffering from losing players to Afcon exposing their depth, Leeds are hanging on in there, but we are marching on like a machine.

It is truly down to our squad, although in Adam Armstrong we have the 3rd top scorer in the Championship with 14 goals, the truth is he is just as valuable with his assists, his 11 of them far and away the best of the top scorers in this division.

There is a lot of talk about needing a striker, but the goals for column doesn't suggest that, our 53 goals for is bettered only by Leicester who have only 3 more on 56 and as at Swansea on Saturday, when we win the goals are shared around, we are not reliant on one man, we have options from all areas.

Back in October I talked of what we needed to secure promotion, even if it was through the play offs How Many Points Do Southampton Need For Promotion

I suggested that at the current time 26th October we would need to look for something like 1.67 points per game to secure a play off spot and 1.91 points per game if we were to get promoted automatically.

I said that we should look at our form both short medium and long term and measure ourselves against these points per game ration, if we do that now, the last 7 games have yielded 19 points, that is 2.71 per game ( Leicester 2 points per game, Leeds 1.86 and Ipswich just 1.14)

This is a good pointer as to which teams are struggling and which are getting stronger, but we also have to look at the medium term, so lets look at the last 14 games, in that spell we have amassed 34 points at an average of 2,43 per game.

The longer term is the last 21 games and that includes our last defeat which was at Middlesbrough on 23rd September, in that time we have gained 48 points at 2.29 per game.

So we have smashed my targets from back in October, we are getting more points than our rivals in the short term, which is a good pointed at current form and going forward and we have matched them in the medium and long terms.

Of course as some will point out, a season is 46 games long, and the only table that counts is the final one and they are right, but that is still 18 games away and we are the team who has come up on the rails and made the other 3 teams in the race for the top two spots look over their shoulders.

If the trend over the last 7 games continues then we will over take Leicester and win the division, but I do think that is a tall order, there are reasons why Leicester have faltered in the last couple of weeks and when they get players back from AFCON, I think they will resume normal service.

But I do think we could run them close, it would be a tall order to remain unbeaten in the final 18 games of the season and it should be remembered that we have to play the other 4 of the top 5 away from home, but we have set out our stall and now just need to keep going on it.

Last but not least is goal difference, that could well play a crucial part in the final table, over these 7 games we have dragged ours up from +4 to +21, that is 5 goals better than Ipswich, but 13 behind Leicester and 3 behind Leeds.

We have to take every opportunity to get a goal or two and most importantly get above Leeds in this area, but we have wasted a few opportunities.

That is why I was so disappointed with the fact that when we made substitutions on Saturday at Swansea, it was more about giving Jack Stephens game time than putting Swansea to the sword.

I am not blaming Jack Stephens for the dire ending to the game we put in, but this substitution upset our rhythm, it threw us out of kilter and we struggled to hold our shape.

Even if we left it another 10 minutes, we might well have got another goal and then at 4-1 we could have made the changes and with Swansea now dispirited truly put them to the sword, hopefully this was a mistake that Russell Martin will learn from, goal difference could well play a crucial part at the end of the season.

Photo: Action Images

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Avior added 11:56 - Jan 23
All spot on but I wonder if in fact it will come down to Leeds, Ipswich and Leicester away.

SaintNick added 12:17 - Jan 23
They will be key games, if we stay unbeaten in them we will be in a good position I would think

highfield49 added 13:11 - Jan 23
Good news from our perspective that Chelsea have recalled Casadei from his season long loan at Leicester. He seems to have been a solid performer in Leicester's midfield all season and not easy to replace. Thank you Poch, nice one.

NYC_Saint added 13:16 - Jan 23
The goal difference is very important - when we were +4 it effectively put us another point behind the others. We won't better Leicester's I don't think so still an extra point behind them but we should better the other two come the end of the season. However, it all depends on maintaining the current form for another 18 games - I haven't seen Leeds play but saw the game last night and didn't think either Leicester or Ipswich are to be feared...

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