Need to know: Southampton
Need to know: Southampton
Aug. 15, 2013
LONDON (AP) — Five things to know about Southampton going into the 2013-14 English Premier League season:
TWO BIG SIGNINGS
Rather than spend small sums of money to add several lesser-known players to its squad like some of its rivals, Southampton has spent bigger on two signings with promising reputations. Midfielder Victor Wanyama joined from Scottish champion Celtic and Croatia defender Dejan Lovren signed from French team Lyon. The 23-year-old Lovren, who cost 8.5 million pounds ($13.2 million), has 18 caps for Croatia and experienced Champions League football during his two-and-a-half years at Lyon. Wanyama, who scored during Celtic's 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Champions League last season, cost a reported 12.5 million pounds.
RICKIE LAMBERT: ENGLAND'S MAN OF THE MOMENT
Southampton fans were chanting "Lambert for England" long before the 31-year-old striker scored the winner against Scotland with his first touch as an England player on Wednesday. Lambert finished last season — his first Premier League campaign — tied as the top-scoring English player in the league with Frank Lampard on 15 goals. He will look to enjoy another successful season St. Mary's with an eye on making England's squad for the World Cup in Brazil next year. Lambert signed for Southampton when it was in the third tier and has finished as its top scorer every season since, helping the club win consecutive promotions to return to the Premier League.
LUKE SHAW: ONE TO WATCH
While Southampton was in England's lower tiers, it had to sell its best young players to stay financially safe. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both left for Arsenal, Gareth Bale came through the ranks before switching to Tottenham and Nathan Dyer of Swansea began his career as a product of Southampton's youth academy. The latest youth player to break into the first team is left-sided defender Luke Shaw, who made 25 Premier League appearances for the club aged 17 before signing a new five-year contract on his 18th birthday last month. Now that Southampton is a Premier League club, it should be easier to hold onto younger talents than in previous years.
POCHETTINO'S FIRST FULL SEASON
The decision to replace manager Nigel Adkins with Mauricio Pochettino midway through last season was met with dismay by fans. Adkins led Southampton into the Premier League and was popular with supporters but Pochettino soon won them over with home victories against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Pochettino's stylish tactics, with a pressing game that favors attacking play, are exciting to watch.
SOUTHAMPTON HAS KEPT ITS BEST PLAYERS — FOR NOW
Defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was one of the revelations of last season, demonstrating an impressive ability to dismantle dangers to his team by reading play expertly before beginning attacking moves with some neat passes. Reports in the English media linked him with Inter Milan and Arsenal but, with less than three weeks of the transfer window left, a move is yet to materialize. At only 23, he will continue to improve.