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Southampton desperately need to address slide

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Following their latest defeat to League One Sheffield United - their fifth loss in a row - Southampton have now failed to win since November 8, and are quickly starting to fall down the table.

What has happened to the club who, not long ago, were sitting in second place and were the only team putting up any kind of fight against a dominant Chelsea?

Southampton had probably the easiest start out of all the Premier League sides this season and, fair play to them, they took their chances and did well.

Easy start

However, as a result of the easy start, that meant a build up of tough games was to follow and, after the November international break, they had/have seven games against "Big 7" clubs in the space of just 10 matches, stretching into the beginning of the second half of the season.

In order to keep the momentum going from their good start, it was important that they kicked off this run of fixtures with a decent result at Aston Villa, but could only manage a draw.

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The defeats that followed to Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United probably provided a sudden realisation that they aren't as good as they thought, and their high league position was only temporary; consequently, confidence levels have surely plummeted, which has likely been a factor in their two most recent defeats - to Burnley and now Sheffield United.

Their next two league fixtures - at home to Everton then away to Crystal Palace - probably represent their best chance of picking up any points between now and the end of January.

Low confidence

However, with confidence levels surely low, especially after this latest defeat, as well as being a team that is potentially still settling in after the many changes during the summer, getting anything from those two fixtures is far from guaranteed.

In fact, the longer the bad run continues, the lower the confidence will get and, surely, the harder it will be to start picking up points again - especially wins. Having said that, it is possible that a win - or a least a well-earned draw - in one of their upcoming fixtures against one of the big clubs might give them the jolt needed to kick-start the season again.

The danger is that the lack of confidence really takes its toll and they start losing - or at least dropping points - in the games that they were winning so easily at the start of the season.

The great start that they made means that they should have done enough to avoid relegation; however, it could easily be March before they hit the 40-point safety mark, and it's not inconceivable that it takes until April or even May.

Concerning times

The worst case scenario - which is surely highly unlikely - is that they never fully recover from this poor form and find themselves in a relegation battle, albeit one that I would expect them still to survive.

It would take an almighty fall from grace for this to happen, but if a lack of confidence persists and they somehow experience a delayed effect from the summer changes then it isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

In reality, once February starts and they have a more balanced run of fixtures, I suspect things will start to pick up, but I'm not sure they can improve upon last season's points total.

If they can ride out this tough run of fixtures and come out fighting the other end then I think a total of 50 points this season is certainly achievable (maybe more), and with it a place in the top half, possibly as high as last season's eighth place.

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Topics:
Southampton
Premier League
Ronaldo Koeman
Football

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