Opposition view: Southampton
By Ric Turner, Sat 09 February 2013 10:14
Ahead of today's clash at St Mary's, Bluemoon caught up with Ben from the Go Marching In blog to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for this season?
This season is all about staying in the Premier League - and, whilst i think we're playing better football than the majority of clubs around us, any finish higher than 17th would be a bonus.
Are you happy with the manager?
In a word: Yes, but I was very happy with the manager we had. Nigel Adkins had the team playing good football, the players were working hard for him and he had come through a very rough spell before Christmas. I thought he deserved the chance to at least see the season out. What is done is done though and I think it was important that we appointed a manager who played a similar style of football, as it hasn't meant large changes to the way we play.
Who are your key players?
I'll start with the obvious - Rickie Lambert. He took just 4 minutes to score against City in that entertaining season opener and is now the joint top English goal scorer in the league. His goals and presence in the team are pivotal to our survival.
Morgan Schneiderlin - Statistically Southampton are the hardest working team in the Premier League. No Saints player has covered more ground this season, made more tackles or completed the most passes in the opposition half than Schneiderlin. In the middle of the park he is the heartbeat of the team.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
Yes. Going into the window we knew that we lacked quality in depth at the back and our top priority was to sign a centre-back. We did that with the signing of Vegard Forren. Would I have liked to have seen more players coming in? Probably, but I’m glad the club didn’t buy for the sake of buying – we only want players who can improve the current squad.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
Luke Shaw is the 'next big thing' to come off the Southampton Academy production line. At only 17 he looks totally assured playing in the Premier League. A very exciting prospect.
Your Achilles heel?
Conceding goals from winning positions. I think I’m correct in saying that Southampton have dropped 24 points from winning positions so far this season.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Of all the times I have been asked this question, this is undoubtedly the hardest one to answer due to the amount of quality City possess all over the pitch. However, from a Southampton perspective – and as a result of my response to the last question - my decision has to be a defensive one: Vincent Kompany. (I really don’t need to say how a player of his quality and leadership could benefit our team.)
What is your perception of City as a club?
I want the best players in the world to play in the Premier League. I also want the title race to be as competitive and wide open as possible. Whilst I don't necessarily agree with the amount of money being thrown around at the top level of the game, I can also see that in order to compete with the best it needs to be done.
I do think something needs to be done about the situation, but at the same time I won't bear any ill feelings towards City fans because someone with a lot of money decided to invest it in their club.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
We do have a few doubts over some players ahead of the game and hopefully they’ll be fit to play. I believe the starting XI should be very close to this:
Boruc, Shaw, Hooiveld, Yoshida, Clyne, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lambert
This match has goals written all over it and I’m sure it’ll be very entertaining. I predict a 3-2 Saints win (I am a Saints fan, after all).