Opposition view: Southampton

By Ric Turner, Fri 06 December 2013 13:20

Opposition view: SouthamptonBen from the Go Marching In blog gives us the lowdown on tomorrow's opponents

What are your expectations for this season?

At the beginning of the campaign I predicted a top ten finish for Southampton. Having kept hold of our key players whilst making quality additions over the summer, I thought that would be a realistic target and would also represent a good level of improvement on our 14th place finish last season.

We had an unbelievable start to the season but have hit a bad patch recently. Whilst us dropping away from the top six isn't a surprise to anyone, finishing within the top ten is definitely achievable.

Are you happy with the manager?

Very much so. Defensively we look very well organised this season and there's no doubt that his tactics are giving quite a few teams a lot of headaches this season. The players seem to hang off his every word and I believe it's partly thanks to his reputation that we were able to buy some of the players - Dani Osvaldo in particular - that we did over the summer.

Who are your key players?

Dejan Lovren – without a doubt our best signing of the summer. He is one of the reasons we have been so good defensively this season.

Morgan Schniederlin – his tireless work ethic fit in perfectly with Pochettino's tactics, whilst his passing ability allows him to switch the play effortlessly.

Rickie Lambert – hasn't scored as many goals this season but is still a massive player for us and contributor to the team. I don't like how reliant we are on one player, but we just don't seem as effective without him.

Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?

The summer transfer window for Southampton was certainly the best that I can remember in my lifetime. In Lovren, Wanyama and Osvaldo we have not only added depth to the spine of the team, but injected real quality as well.

Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?

By now most people have heard about Luke Shaw and the hype surrounding him, but James Ward-Prowse is another academy graduate who is currently making a name for himself. A regular for the England U21s and set piece taker for both club and country, he already looks very comfortable playing Premier League football.

Your Achilles heel?

Our high pressing game gives the opposition defence little time on the ball to pick a pass and build from the back. Against Chelsea, Mourinho resorted to playing long balls in the second half in an attempt to bypass the Southampton attack and midfield. It wasn't pretty, but it worked for them.

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?

Sergio Aguero. We have lots of possession during games but we have struggled to do anything with it in the final third of late. Defensively we had a terrific start to the season, but I wonder how much attacking impetus has been sacrificed in order to be tighter at the back. Aguero is a player I have admired since his Athletico Madrid days and is easily one of the best in the world.

What is your perception of City as a club?

I want the Premier League to be as competitive and open as possible. So, whilst I don't particularly agree with the sums of money that get thrown around by the bigger clubs it is unfortunately necessary to attract and keep the best players. I mentioned Aguero in my previous answer and I hope the recent rumours about him going to Real Madrid have no truth, because I love the fact he plays in the Premier League.

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?

Gazzaniga, Shaw, Lovren, Fonte, Clyne, Cork, Schniederlin, Ward-Prowse, Rodriguez, Lallana, Lambert

We're wobbling a bit at the moment after 3 successive defeats and there seem to be plenty of goals being conceded. I'm going to go for an optimistic 2-2 draw.