Back-to-back league promotions had Southampton on cloud nine after returning to the Premier League after a seven year absence – a just reward after a tremulous few years in the Football League. But after an uneasy re-birth in top-flight football, can they steady the ship and avoid returning to the Championship once again?
In their time in the Football League, Southampton has struggled with financial trouble, forcing starlets Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be sold to boost income, whilst a change of owners was also enforced. In 2009, they went into administration and were given a 10-point deduction when in the Championship, and were relegated into the third tier of English football the following year.
Since then, the tides have turned for Nigel Adkins’ side. Achieving automatic promotion in League One after finishing runners-up in 2010, they repeated the feat the following season with a second-place finish in the Championship, after missing top-spot by just one point.
Their return to the Premier League is what dreams are made of. Adkins’ team of superstars had put Southampton back on the map, and fans were relishing the Premier League season to get underway.
Four games in however, and their fate is already looking bleak. Whilst failing to score on just one occasion this season, and coming very close to upsets against both Manchester United and Manchester City – ultimately losing 3-2 on both occasions – Southampton are far from relegated. However, holding the unwanted title as the only team in the Premier League still on zero points, a turnaround in results is needed, quickly.
Whilst their 6-1 demolition at the hands of Champions League-chasers Arsenal will undoubtedly hurt, their 2-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic will scar them even more, having shipped three points to a team they may possible be in a relegation fight with come April.
The team know they can cut it in the Championship, and should not drop their heads too much just four games into the Premier League season. Top overall goal scorer and four-time hat-trick scorer in the Championship last season, Rickie Lambert has already got two goals to his name, and if he can continue this form it won’t be long until the team get some points on the board.
A win against Aston Villa this week could be just what they need to kick start their campaign, and with their following three games against Everton, Fulham and West Ham they must be looking for at least another three points if they wish to avoid relegation this season.
Can Southampton pick up their first points of the season this weekend, and can they survive the drop this year?
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