Despite having the wind taken out of their sails at Villa Park somewhat, Ronald Koeman insists Southampton are capable of a top-four finish.
After losing a number of their top stars during the summer window, and manager Mauricio Pochettino who joined Tottenham Hotspur, many pundits expected the Saints to be battling relegation this season. However, inspired by the appointment of Koeman and some shrewd signings, the St Mary’s side have made a sensational start to their campaign.
Ahead of their trip to the Midlands to take on Aston Villa, the South Coast club were in second place and seven points behind leaders Chelsea. They were unable to make much of a dent in this deficit, though, as they had to rely on a late Nathaniel Clyne goal to rescue a point against Paul Lambert’s side, who led through Gabriel Agbonlahor.
With some stern tests on the horizon some critics will now look on with interest to see if Southampton’s bubble has burst. However, in a season in which it appears as though, aside from Jose Mourinho’s side, every team is capable of beating any opponent, Koeman has backed his players to continue their good form and push for a top-four finish.
“Yes I think it is possible,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t see a lot of other teams better than Southampton. We have to play better than tonight but everybody knows the Premier League is a battle every game and there are big teams who are struggling. If we keep going, keep the spirit and character in the team that we showed today, then I think it is possible.”
Southampton now face some intriguing battles in their coming match, as they face Manchester City at home, Arsenal twice, Manchester United twice, and Chelsea at home within their next nine fixtures. They will also hope to book a place in the League Cup semi-finals next month, after taking on League One side Sheffield United in the last eight.
Are Southampton realistic contenders for the top-four, or will they soon fade away? Let us know what you think by joining in the discussion below.