This is a league campaign that Southampton fans will be more than happy to see the back of. Sitting 17th in the league having only won five games all season, they have been the least exciting side in the division this season from a neutral’s perspective (and probably Saints supporters themselves).
It will go right down to the wire for them.
Southampton’s Struggle Against Relegation
Why Will They Stay Up?
Southampton dominated the midfield in their last victory against West Brom, and have some talented players in those positions who can ensure their safety.
Mario Lemina can be a joy to watch and boss that area of the pitch. Meanwhile, Ward-Prowse is putting in industrious performances with dead-ball ability, as his promise is finally coming to fruition. The ability to dominate relegation rivals in the midfield will prove very important in tight games.
Another way that they could guarantee survival is with a change of manager. Mauricio Pellegrino is utterly uninspiring, and the team is often devoid of ideas offensively. Not to mention some odd tactical decisions along the way.
It seems as if the board are going to back Pellegrino until at least the end of the season, considering they spent almost £20m on Carrillo in January, who played under him at Estudiantes.
With only two losses in twelve matches across all competitions, maybe Pellegrino is finally getting to grips with his squad. Although their style of play has generally been dull so far this season, it could be functional enough to drag them through to the summer when there will be a reassessment of the managerial role, for sure.
Why Could They Go Down?
As mentioned, Pellegrino can make bizarre tactical decisions which has contributed to their lowly league position, and the fact that they have the second-fewest wins in the league.
Another key factor is the lack of attacking flair. Nathan Redmond is playing with no conviction or confidence and Boufal is hit-and-miss. Shane Long is a workhorse with a horrendous scoring record recently and Gabbiadini does not seem to get enough minutes. The list can go on about the flaws of the players, but the buck eventually stops with the manager, who has failed his squad thus far.
Saints fans will hope that Carrillo can alter their fortunes in this department, preferably in a front two, otherwise the whole campaign will be arduous and could well result in relegation.
The home game against Stoke last weekend typifies the Pellegrino reign. A goalless draw with a team that sits in 19th in the league. Minimal quality on show, no desire from the manager to make in-game changes, a rigidity that just doesn’t work.
For a team that has generally been comfortable during their stint in the top flight, it’s not good enough to use damage limitation against a side that is in real danger of going down themselves.
Their stature and the squad that they’ve built in their current stint in the top division could see them safe. Either way, though, there is plenty to address at the end of this season. Southampton have been horrendous and that could well come back to haunt them in May.
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