Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright
What has gone wrong for relegation-threatened Southampton this season?
Last Updated: 11/04/18 11:43am
We examine the stats behind Southampton's dismal season ahead of their meeting with Chelsea, live on Sky Sports on Saturday.
Saints are three points adrift of safety after just one win from their last 19 Premier League games, with Mark Hughes facing a fight to keep them up after taking over from the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino last month.
The numbers highlight some of the underlying issues…
One of Southampton's biggest problems - not just this season but last season as well - has been an inability to convert chances. Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini have struggled, Charlie Austin has been overlooked or unable to stay fit, and Guido Carrillo has not found the net once since his £19.2m arrival from Monaco in January.
No Saints player has reached double figures for goals since 2015/16, with Austin the only player to even manage more than five in the current campaign.
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Southampton's strikers can't complain about a lack of service. Saints ranked seventh for chances created last season - behind only the big six sides - and it is the same story this year. Southampton have created 302 chances and taken 388 shots and yet only scored 31 goals in 32 games. Their eight per cent shot conversion rate is the third-worst in the division.
Southampton's finishing issues
|Southampton 2017/18||Total||PL rank|
|Shots on goal||388||10th|
Austin is their best hope of turning things around. The 28-year-old, who recently returned from a long injury lay-off and scored in the 3-2 loss to Arsenal, was not fancied by Pellegrino, but of players to have scored five or more goals in the Premier League this season, only Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero boast superior strike rates. Hughes needs him fit and firing.
Best minutes per goal rates - Premier League 2017/18
Southampton have big issues at the other end, too. The Virgil van Dijk saga was a distraction and his inevitable departure to Liverpool was a blow. Wesley Hoedt has struggled to live up to expectations since his £15m arrival from Lazio in August, but most worrying is that so many of the established players around him have allowed their levels to drop.
Oriol Romeu has been unable to protect the defence with the same effectiveness as in previous campaigns, while right-back Cedric Soares - previously one of Southampton's most consistent performers - has looked a shadow of his old self. Fraser Forster's form was so poor in the first half of the campaign that it cost him his place in the side.
Saints have already conceded more goals (50) than in any of the previous four campaigns, with only Stoke and Bournemouth keeping fewer clean sheets, and there is little sign of improvement: Southampton have conceded three goals in each of their last three Premier League games.
Fewest clean sheets - Premier League 2017/18
|Team||Goals conceded||Clean sheets|
Southampton's players have received plenty of criticism for under-performing this season, with former Liverpool and England captain Phil Thompson describing their attitude as "shocking" earlier this season, and the stats certainly support the notion that focus and fight have been in short supply.
Errors have not so much crept into their game as taken over completely. Last season Southampton made just 14 individual mistakes leading to opposition shots and five leading to goals, according to Opta. In the current campaign those numbers are already up to 25 and 11 respectively, making them the second-most error-prone team the division behind Arsenal.
Southampton's increasing errors
|Season||Errors leading to shots||PL rank||Errors leading to goals||PL rank|
They have lacked resilience and determination, too, struggling to hold onto leads and to fight back from adverse positions. There have been too many draws. The stats show only five Premier League teams have lost more points from winning positions this season. Only four teams have won fewer points from losing positions.
"The spirit of the team and the attitude of the team is everything," said Pellegrino before his departure. "You can have good players, you can have budget, but without spirit and personality it is really difficult to compete." Pellegrino was not the right appointment for Southampton, but did he have a point about his players?
Watch Southampton v Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12pm on Saturday
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