Southampton did show some positive signs towards the end of last season that they could continue their magnificent progress in 2013-14. However, the start that they have made to this season has surpassed the expectations of many, so what have they done to achieve such a terrific start?
Wins over Liverpool and Chelsea in the closing stages of last season proved that Southampton are capable of beating anyone in the Premier League, but equally defeats to the likes of Queens Park Rangers suggested that there was still work to be done.
After their start this time around, it seems clear that Mauricio Pochettino has spent a lot of time working on the team’s defending, and while the signing of Pablo Osvaldo made most of the headlines, it was the acquisition of Dejan Lovren which was the Saints’ best piece of transfer business, as the centre-back arrived from Lyon.
The Croat has already become a major calming influence in central defence, the main reason for Southampton only conceding one goal from open play in their opening seven Premier League games. Lovren’s presence is also making Jose Fonte become a better player, with his solid displays keeping Maya Yoshida out of the starting XI.
It has to be said that they are not looking so potent in attack this season, but they look a side very capable of achieving a healthy finish in the top half. Pochettino has added some real quality to his side, while maintaining the club’s philosophy of giving young players an opportunity. Calum Chambers is the latest of the promising academy youngsters to make it into the first-team.
While their consistency and their excellent form has come as a surprise to most observers, Southampton themselves will not be, having publicly declared their intention to fight for a Champions League place within two years. That may be a bit too ambitious, but they are clearly a club that is going places, just two years after being promoted from League One.