After losing their manager and so many key players in the summer, little was expected of Southampton at the start of this season.
Tempting a big name like Ronald Koeman to the club was certainly seen a major coup by the Southampton fans. But, having seen the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Luke Shaw depart, it was hard to imagine the Saints challenging for anything more than a mid-table berth.
A good few punters will have fancied Southampton for the drop in August. But those who have followed their results through the season with Blue Sq among others will know their money is now well and truly gone.
Southampton have exceeded all expectations this season, previously rising up to second in the Premier League on the back of a run of eight wins in ten games. But the last few days will have brought Koeman and his men back down to earth with a bump. The question is, how will it affect the rest of their season?
Few would have expected Southampton to take anything from their home game against Manchester City last weekend but, after conceding just six goals in their previous 12 Premier League games, they will have been hugely disappointed by the manner of their 3-0 defeat.
Having lost to City, Wednesday night’s game at Arsenal was a real test of their credentials as Champions League contenders. They looked for 89 minutes as though they may be able to stay the course but Alexis Sanchez’s late winner for a disjointed Arsenal side demonstrated the difference between Southampton and the other top sides.
For all their enthusiasm and determination the Saints do not have that little touch of class needed to break down the best teams.
It is easy to forget in Southampton’s rise up the table that, in their first 12 games, Liverpool were the only one of last season’s top five who they faced – and they lost to them on the opening day of the season.
With Manchester United to come on Monday, then Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal again in a tough fixture list before the end of January, Southampton’s league position could begin to look a lot more realistic by the conclusion of the Christmas period.