Southampton currently sit 10th in the table with only one defeat in their last eight games at the time of writing. This streak also involves games against Manchester City, Spurs, and Manchester United with the Saints collecting five of nine points from those three games. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men had one of the worst starts to the season with the Saints winless in their first seven league games of the season. What changed then for Southampton to put them in the position they are in currently?
The following visualisation shows Southampton’s five-game rolling average for Expected Goals (xG) and Expected Goals Against (xGA) for this season.
The visual shows that Southampton’s attack has steadily improved, as indicated by the blue dotted line (xG trendline), over the course of the season. Whereas, their xGA performance (red dotted line/xGA trendline) shows that their defensive performances have pretty much been the same throughout the season. Southampton’s recent win over Spurs was the Saints’ second best attacking performance of the season with their best coming against Newcastle United early on in the season. Their best defensive performance of the season came against Leeds United, which was also the Saints’ first victory of the season. Having failed to win any of their first seven games, Southampton have lost only four of their next 17 games. However, Saints have drawn 11 games, the second highest in the league next to close rivals Brighton & Hove Albion. One could also argue that, even though they stayed unbeaten against Man City, Spurs and Man United, the Saints were very lucky to come away with a point against the Manchester clubs.
Southampton have been mid table for almost all the stats this season. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men are starting to pick up some form as we approach the business end of the season. It will be interesting to see if they can continue this momentum and finish in the top half of the table, and, if they do it, it will be considered as an amazing achievement for the club.