The Saints look to have secured safety in their first season back in the Premier League and this is in no small part down to their midfielders and strikers. Their defence has looked fragile – particularly in the first few months of the season – but their free-flowing and aesthetically pleasing football has lifted them up to a comfortable mid-table position. Their star performers have been Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert – banging in the goals on a regular basis – but also Morgan Schneiderlin, who has patrolled the middle of the park with considerable success.
The 23 year-old Englishman Rodriguez may not have the best goalscoring statistics – 8 in all competitions from 30 appearances – but his all-round contribution has been excellent. He regularly makes intuitive and challenging runs, pulling defenders away for the likes of Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert to find the space to shoot. In his first season in the Premier League, he has adjusted well to the pace of the game and deserves to be commended for his contribution to the Saints’ seemingly successful survival push.
31 year-old Rickie Lambert, a Southampton stalwart for such a long time, has had a great season, leading to calls – although unanswered, as yet – for him to be picked for England. A prolific season in front of goal – 14 overall, in 31 appearances in the league – has been coupled with a great work rate and also, tremendous vision to equal a fabulous first season in England’s top division. This fan favourite thoroughly deserves all of the plaudits coming his way.
Their number 4, the Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin, has had a great season in the Southampton midfield. He has had made the most tackles out of any player in the whole of the Premier League, which is a remarkable statistic for a player in a lower-half club. Still only 23, he has rapidly earned himself a reputation as one of the most tenacious and determined defensive midfielders in the league. He has even weighed in with 5 crucial goals to help steer his club towards survival.
At the start of this campaign, not even Southampton fans would have dared to predict that they would be sitting pretty in 11th place after 32 games of the Premier League season. The fact that they are is in no small way down to their heralded strike force of Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez, and their dogged holding midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.