The Premier League Has an Unlikely Leader In Southampton

Southampton player Che Adams (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Southampton player Che Adams (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /

With their 2-0 win over Newcastle, Southampton went top of the English Premier League on Friday and stays there following a full Saturday of fixtures.

This is the first time in Southampton’s history that they’ve been in first place since the Premier League began in 1992. In fact, it’s the first time since 1988 that the Saints have been top of the table and stay there for two days running.

Unlikely leaders they may be, but so far the Saints have been good value for their position at the top of the Premier League. They’ve won their last five games, after losing their first two games of this young season.

They were poor in those two losses—against Crystal Palace and Tottenham—but have since turned things around. They currently sit on 16 points, the same as Liverpool, but lead the league on goal difference.

Good humor aside, Southampton will know that their schedule up to this point has been one of the less challenging. Credit where credit is due, however. Their run of good form has seen them beat two sides that were flying when they ran into the Saints buzz saw—Everton and Aston Villa.

Both sides were, perhaps, getting carried away with their good form and performances when they came across Southampton, who have absolutely earned their 16 points by taking care of business.

Their 3-3 draw with Chelsea is the only game in the last six where they have dropped points, but taking a point against Chelsea, and scoring three goals to boot, is not a bad effort for a side that looked destined for a mid-table finish at best.

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Against Newcastle, Che Adams fired the Saints into an early lead with a sweet volley and Stuart Armstrong secured all the points in the 82nd minute. Newcastle never troubled the Southampton defense, so the 2-0 scoreline makes this seem a closer contest than it truly was.

In fact, the goal-scoring form of Che Adams, along with his currently injured strike partner Danny Ings, is the primary reason for Southampton’s run of good results.

Adams was slow to get his Saints career started, but he has since blossomed under the tutelage of Ralph Hasenhüttl.

That’s good news for Southampton supporters because when Danny Ings, who has been excellent since joining from Liverpool, was injured last season, the Saints slipped into the relegation zone. A fantastic turnaround in form kept them from the drop.

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This season, however, Southampton players and fans will have their eyes on a top 7 finish and an entrance into next season’s Europa League. If their form continues like this, though, fans and neutrals may start to see shades of 2015-16 when 5000 to 1 odds Leicester City went on to win the most unlikely of Premier League titles.