Rewind a couple of months and you wouldn’t have to look far to find someone tipping Southampton to head into the Championship. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and the gaffer Mauricio Pochettino all jumped ship after Saints had finished eighth last season, and with a mass exodus underway in the South East, their odds for a return to the Championship started to plummet.
Tipping Southampton to go down became the bread and butter of football punditry during the excruciating spell between the end of the World Cup and the start of the Premier League, and here at Power Tower we weren’t blameless. Firstly we wrote this article about Saints ‘looking like they could disintegrate’ under Ronald Koeman. Then we trolled Saints fans with this billboard in Merseyside ahead of their opening game of the season against Liverpool. Trainspotting legend Irvine Welsh stuck the boot into Southampton’s board here, while punters got in on the act as well. In the ante-post relegation market, 41 per cent of the cash was on Southampton to go down at odds of 4/1.
How times change.
Less than three months ago Southampton were 4/1 for the drop and after a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season, they were 9/2 to be heading for the Championship and a lofty 70/1 to finish the season in the top four. The Saints beat West Ham at Upton Park 3-1 at the end of August, and despite West Ham’s good form in hindsight, the traders pushed Southampton out even further at 100/1 to finish in the Champions League places.
What a difference nine weeks make. Since then Southampton have won six of their seven league games – with the only blemish on their record a 1-0 defeat away to Tottenham at the start of October. They currently sit second in the league four points behind table-toppers Chelsea, but five points clear of fourth place Arsenal. They’re a whopping eight points ahead of Liverpool and nine points clear of Manchester United. If that’s not enough they have the best defence in the league, conceding just five goals and keeping six clean sheets from 10 games, and only Chelsea have scored more goals than the Saints.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 2, 2014
That outstanding form has seen their odds tumble form 100/1 to just 11/4 to finish in a top four position, while their relegation odds have soared to 200/1 and made a lot of football pundits look very silly in the process. There’s a whole lot of humble pie on the menu in Power Tower right now. They aren’t showing any signs of slowing down and next up for the Saints is a home tie with Leicester – a side who have picked up just one point from the last five games. It’s no surpirse the bean-counters are running scared, and Southampton are just 4/7 to pick up another three points.