If you told me that Southampton would be in the top 4 of the Premier League table this late in the season, I probably would have laughed in your face. But yet, there they are, sitting in 2nd on the table through 9 matches. They hold a two-point lead over third place Manchester City and their +15 goal differential is tied with league-leader Chelsea.
Now, weave known for quite awhile that Southampton has an impressive youth academy. It has produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw, and Theo Walcott among others. Unfortunately for the The Saints, these players haven’t stuck around for too long, being bought by larger clubs for hefty price tags. Luke Shaw alone was sold for 30 million pounds, giving Southampton some breathing room with their financials, and the ability to buy some cheaper players.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Southampton, as the club went through some trying times in the 2000s. They were relegated for the first time since the inception of the Premier League after 27 years during the 2004-05 season. Things got worse in 2008-09 as they were relegated again to the Football League One. They returned to the Championship after the 2010-11 season, and finally made their return to the Premier League after securing promotion during the 2011-12 season.
The club saw the fruits of their youth academy come to the forefront after the 2013-14 season when they sold 5 players for a combined 92 million pounds, with 4 of the players being sold for more than the previous club record for transfer fee received. This allowed the club to go on a spending spree of their own, while still coming out with a net profit of over 25 million pounds for the transfer period.
After all of that, The Saints have climbed to 2nd place in the Premier League table. To be fair, Southampton hasn’t exactly played the most grueling schedule yet. But that does not mean that they have not been playing well, even completing a 8-0 drubbing of Sunderland just a few weeks ago. They don’t really have a name brand superstar, but have managed to score 17 goals in 9 league games.
The club will have a gauntlet to go through starting on November 30th with Manchester City, and extending through December with fixtures versus Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, and Arsenal. If they can come through the end of 2014 in the top 4 of the table, you can color me impressed. Even so, only conceding 5 goals at this stage in the season is impressive for any team in the Premier League. 5 clean sheets for goalkeeper Frasor Forster is heading the Saints defense, while forward Graziano Pelle leads the attacking with 6 league goals.
So here we are at the end of October, with some of the giants faltering, and a little club from the south of England is making some big noise. Maybe it is a false start, but maybe it is a legitimate boon. Any way you look at it, Southampton is in 2nd place in the Premier League. The Saints may go marching in…or they might fall down the stairs, but either way, they are going somewhere in this Premier League race.