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Far-Fetched Friday: Southampton to Avoid Relegation and Finish in Top Half Next Season
By: Jake Lofgren
Southampton is a club that never fails to fill me with nostalgia. I often think about the good old days when they would find a diamond in the rough like Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk or perhaps help introduce us to "streets don't forget" players like Sofiane Boufal and Graziano Pelle. Southampton has fallen off since and become a perennial relegation favorite for a few seasons now, leaving me and the rest of Premier League fans reminiscing on the quality they used to produce.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the demise of a Premier League sweetheart.
Southampton has begun to look unrecognizable from what it used to be. The club was once known for developing elite talent from its youth academy or buying them from other clubs. After firing Ralph Hassenhuttl amid his ability to keep the club punching above its weight in the Premier League, the club turned to Nathan Jones. The club then faced backlash from fans and later fired Jones only 94 days after his employment. The club has been at rock bottom of the league ever since the new calendar year began.
Over the last month and a half, Southampton has started to bounce back. They have picked up eight points from their last six games, with impressive results coming against Chelsea, Tottenham, Leicester, and Manchester United. He may or may not be the long-term answer, but the results are improving under Ruben Selles.
I believe this season shows Southampton has returned to its best in the transfer market. They brought in Romeo Lavia and Armel Bella-Kotchap, both already garnering plenty of attention from bigger clubs. Gavin Bazunu and Joe Aribo have also shown some exciting performances to hint at them becoming key pieces to the club.
However, this January was when Southampton truly engaged in transactions similar to the past. Mislav Orsic is a Croatian international that scored a goal and gained an assist just this last World Cup while also contributing 13 goal contributions in 15 matches for Dinamo Zagreb this year. The 6'8" target man, Paul Onuachu, came in from Genk after scoring 16 goals in 19. Then it has been a while since Southampton has had a tricky and skillful winger to look out for, but the Saints have added Kamaldeen Sulemana from Rennes. Sulemana has failed to impact the score sheet in his first eight appearances but has created nine chances and already has the club's second-highest number of successful dribbles this season with 22 (only behind Kyle Walker-Peters with 32).
The club has a lot of work to do this season, but I believe the squad Southampton is assembling is starting to look pretty dangerous. As much as I enjoy the new underdog clubs fighting for European spots, Southampton walked so that clubs like Brighton and Brentford could run. They will be back.
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