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David Jones blogs on Southampton's winning formula

David Jones - David Jones Posted 23rd October 2013 view comments

Monday Night Football is always compelling viewing - the debate generated by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher always thought provoking - but I had to stop and rewind the show this week.

Did Jamie really compare Southampton to the great AC Milan side of Baresi, Rijkaard, Gullit and Van Basten?

Praise doesn't get much higher than that but such are the plaudits heading the way of the South Coast club right now under the development of Mauricio Pochettino.

Lovren: Southampton's late leveller at United was further proof of their strength this season

Lovren: Southampton's late leveller at United was further proof of their strength this season

They weren't able to match West Brom by winning at Old Trafford, but a late draw there on the back of victory at Anfield had Carragher purring.

Statistically their defence (which has conceded only three goals in eight games) is the second best in Europe's major leagues right now - and it's the high press helping to deliver results which is drawing all the attention.

Statistically Southampton's defence is the second best in Europe's major leagues right now.

David Jones
Quotes of the week

A comparison was made with Sunderland, who under Kevin Ball tried the same tactic to pressurise Liverpool and Manchester United at the top of the pitch, but found themselves run out of legs late in the game as a result.

Gus Poyet clearly recognised that Sunderland's intensity was working against them and so against Swansea he abandoned that frenetic approach and urged patience in his team.

It worked for the best part of an hour before awful defending cost them dear at a corner and the floodgates opened.

Blend

These Southampton players are clearly supremely fit but unlike Sunderland they now have quality in key positions: Dejan Lovren, a revelation in defence; the midfield wall Victor Wanyama; and the maverick forward Pablo Osvaldo - £35m worth of spine that would dramatically improve most Premier League teams.

Only Manchester City and Chelsea had a bigger net spend this summer, so perhaps their progress should be expected.

But in many ways they have the perfect formula - big money signings, blended with dependable European talents like Artur Boruc, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte, and sprinkled with exciting youngsters from their prolific academy.

Mauricio Pochettino clearly deserves great credit but hopefully Nigel Adkins won't be airbrushed from history all together: he will always believe the team was improving under his guidance before the axe fell last season.

That is history, against Fulham on Saturday Night Football the Saints will be chasing their third straight home win.

But if Fulham were to reproduce one of their wonder goals from Monday night at Palace - and only Sunderland have scored at St Mary's so far - they should be confident of an upset.

For while Pochettino has transformed Southampton's defending, as yet they don't score freely: it's almost like watching Milan...

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