As we enter the international break this weekend, most Southampton fans would agree with me when I say I wouldn’t have expected us to be sitting 5 points clear at the top of the Championship before the season started. Despite an impressive league campaign last year in League 1, I personally was expecting Saints to struggle in the step up to the championship and at this stage be lying in mid-table. Big teams such as West Ham, Middlesbrough, and Birmingham etc. were expected to come to St Marys and beat Nigel Adkins’ side comfortably but in fact, The Saints have beaten all three of those teams already this season. The key to their success has to be the style in which Adkins has got the team playing football, quick passing and creative movement along with the added quality of the offensive players including Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Richard Chaplow.
One of the aspects which contributes to promotion in any league is winning home games, something Southampton have done all season without fail, the biggest win so far coming against Watford back in October, when the score was 4-0 to the league leaders. However their away form has been less impressive, recently Saints had been under some pressure due to their away run, having not won in the past 6 away games. Although the doubts were soon brushed aside when they came out 4-2 winners over Coventry, despite Saints previously never winning at the Ricoh Arena.
Since taking charge of the team in September 2010, Nigel Adkins has so far completed an astonishing job, winning over 67% of games in charge, the best winning percentage as a manager for Southampton in the last century. I was personally unsure at first when he was appointed but I am positive that all Saints fans have been won over by Adkins, since being in charge, we have only lost just 11 out of 65 games.
Many fans across the country have expressed their views saying Southampton’s current run of form will soon come to an end, only time will tell if Saints can keep it up. The international break will give the players a well-deserved break before taking on Brighton at home, a side who shared promotion celebrations with Adkins’ men last season, The Seagulls won League 1 despite Saints beaten them 2-1 at The Withdean. The game will be a feisty affair between the two South coast teams, who seem to becoming more rivalry after each meeting, especially the two managers, Gus Poyet hit out at Adkins in a local newspaper after the Saints boss questioned Brighton’s abilities to ‘keep up’ with his side.
However I am religious to the fact that there will only ever be one south coast derby, Southampton and Portsmouth, who come together on the 18th December, this promises to be an exciting, intense game of football between two sides who take this fixture extremely seriously and passionately. Although, I think Saints fans would prefer to win all their remaining games of the season except lose to Portsmouth, rather than losing all their remaining games and beating Portsmouth.