WILL Southampton arrest their stumbling start to the season on Sunday? Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) looks at the odds for their match against Norwich.
Southampton v Norwich | Sunday 13:30 | Sky Sports 1
What’s happened to Southampton?! The pin-up club of the last two seasons seem to have been ripped off the walls in the last few weeks. It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the South Coast club, a 3-0 home humbling against Everton was followed by a goalless draw against Watford before European elimination.
For a club fuelled by so much Premier League money it’s pretty shocking that they failed to qualify for the Europa League group stages. The temptation is to suggest it will aid their domestic cause, but I’ll take a different view. Failure to reach the group stages is a massive disruption to the progress the club have made in recent years and a massive setback. It may just derail them.
Hull’s season went tits up when they failed to qualify for the Europa League groups last season. It was as if the spirit and bonhomie of reaching the FA Cup Final had been sucked out of them. That might just happen with Southampton this season.
Newly promoted Norwich have started the season in exemplary fashion. An opening day loss against Crystal Palace was harsh (that form has worked out well) but they followed that up with a win in Sunderland and a draw against Stoke.
I can’t see this team going down. They look up for it. Energised, organised and experienced. Their team is mostly made up of the same group of players who went down two seasons ago. Most people saw that as a negative before the season started, I think the opposite. They’ll be more determined to right the wrongs of 2013/14 and with a new man in charge that should be achievable.
That new man in charge? Yeah Alex Neil. What a guy! Cut from the same cloth as some of the all-time greats, Neil is the new dour don’t-fuck-with-me Scotsman looking to smash up England. I wish him all the best. Hopefully one day I can buy him a pint.
Norwich look a tough side to beat this season thanks to Neil’s meticulous preparation and style and I’m not sure Southampton will have the get-up-and-go to take them out here. Hopefully they’re hurting from Thursday and Norwich should be able to avoid defeat.
Southampton v Norwich – Draw (13/5 888 Sport)