Can Southampton go the distance?
By NICK PAPADIS
College Contributor Network
After a huge win over Manchester United, Southampton now holds the third place spot in the Premier League Table. Despite the Saints being in a Champions League qualifying spot, many are not convinced that they can maintain this position through the rest of the season.
People around the soccer world have been impressed by Ronald Koeman's season so far and his ability to bring in quality players with a much lower budget than his high profile rivals. Key signings by Koeman have helped put the Saints in third place as they trail only Chelsea and Manchester City.
However, lack of depth may cause issues for Southampton. The Hampshire club has several top-tier players, but lack of depth on the bench could cause problems as the season continues.
The Saints lack experienced players who can fill in and play at the top level of English soccer when the team loses a player to injury. Despite this, Koeman is growing and strengthening his squad in the January transfer window.
The loan signing of Eljero Elia from German side Weder Bremen was the beginning of Koeman's attempts to prepare his squad to compete for the top spots in the Premier League.
Elia's debut was less than stellar against Manchester United, but summer signing Dusan Tadic came off the bench to win the match for the Saints. Even though Elia's performance could have been better, Koeman's strategy and additions to his squad showed that the team has what it takes to compete with top competition away from home.
Southampton has performed very well against mid-table teams but their winning result against Manchester United was one of only a few results against top-level teams. The Saints have played very well against many of the top competitors in the Premier League, but have not been able to get the needed results against teams such as Manchester City and Arsenal.
The club will also again battle to keep players at St. Mary's in January. The transfer window will prove to be a big obstacle for Koeman's side as many top teams desire to sign players in his starting eleven. Players such as Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez have been linked with moves away from St. Mary's.
Though Southampton has had a quality season so far, there is still a long season ahead that the Saints will have to endure. If Koeman's squad stays healthy and avoids losing players to large clubs, they will surely compete for a top-four finish and a Champions League qualifying place.
Nick Papadis is a sophomore at American University majoring broadcast journalism and broadcasts AU Men's Soccer amongst other sports. Nick is an avid Liverpool fan. Follow him on twitter @NPSoccerTalk