So another interlull passes by and I still find it difficult to see the need for these pointless friendlies. Obviously playing for the country remains the ultimate honour but looking at a country like England, you do feel the caps are being handed out easily in the name of experiment.
And not to forget the players breaking down all over Europe; Borussia Dortmund have lost their entire backline ahead of the weekend’s clash with Bayern Munich. Luckily for us, our bunch of merry men have all returned in one piece so looks like we are all set for the return of normalcy.
I got in touch with Chris of GEORGEWEAHSCOUSIN, a lifelong Saints fan ahead of the top of the table (I know that sounds odd, but it is the truth) clash against Southampton at the Emirates. The Saints have done absolutely well if you consider that a year ago we spanked them 6-1 and now they’ve got the best defence in the league and the second best in Europe’s top five leagues. Their academy is probably amongst the best in England and it is no surprise they’ve got some amazingly talented youngsters (Especially their full backs!). To be third in the league after playing United and Liverpool away is no mean feat so it is going to be hard work for the Gunners on Saturday.
Read below for Chris’s take on Mauricio Pochettino, the Saints defence and Mesut Ozil among other things. There are some pretty interesting views down there!
1. Southampton have had a brilliant start to the season. Are you surprised by the form you guys have been showing?
Yes and no. I think we were far better than our league position suggested last season and with the quality we had added, I think most Saints fans were quietly confident of a better start to the season. Did I think we would be 3rd at this stage though? No.
2. Nigel Adkins was sacked when many felt he was doing well. Does that decision to go for a change of manager stand vindicated now?
I think so yes. I was as appalled as anyone at the time, and the appointment of a relative unknown represented a massive risk. Pochettino has done a fantastic job and no Saints fan would change the decision now.
3. What’s the fan’s take on Pochettino?
He’s popular. He very quickly became one of us, and you can see that in how defensive Saints fans can be of him when outsiders criticise his lack of English in interviews. That really isn’t a big deal. He speaks to the players in English, and whatever he is saying is getting through. If Saints continue in their current vein then I couldn’t care less if he speaks it publicly or not. He’s transforming this club, and he’s doing it with style and confidence, it’s rubbing off on everyone.
4. What are the targets for the season? Do you think the Saints can get in the mix at the top or is it better to take things cautiously?
Who knows at this stage? I think we are capable of finishing in the top 8 this season. If we strengthen further in January and give ourselves a little depth then there is no reason why we can’t. I actually think we have a ‘best XI’ now that can compete at the top, injuries would undo us though.
5. One player who has impressed the most?
If I had to pick one it would be Dejan Lovren. Simply a world class centre half. In all honesty though the whole team have been fantastic, Saints style is built on the ethos of teamwork and working for each other. The unit is greater than the sum of its parts.
6. Southampton’s defence has been very solid this season. Do you feel they’ll be able to shut out a dynamic and fluid Arsenal attack?
I think it is going to be very difficult. But for two individual errors against Stoke City and Hull City we would have conceded the least goals in Europe so we know how to get the job done, but Arsenal are looking lethal in all areas at the moment. It may well be a case of calling on some inspiration from somewhere to keep you out but I don’t think you will be scoring as easily as you did last season.
7. Your take on Arsenal as a club.
That is a tough question. I guess it would be easier to answer if I had a particular dislike for Arsenal, but I don’t. Hang on, didn’t Harry Redknapp once say he supported them? Yep. Can’t stand them!!
8. Has signing Ozil changed the outlook of this team?
I think it has changed the outlook of those looking in. It’s a serious signing, without a doubt because Ozil is easily one of the top players in the world. And I think after selling Robin van Persie Arsenal owed their fans a signing like it.
9. Arsenal lost at Old Trafford two weeks back. Where do think Arsenal are among the clubs looking to challenge for the title?
Right up there at the top. I think that much is clear this season. Everyone is expecting you to fall away but I think with the two Manchester clubs struggling to find form and Chelsea being inconsistent it could easily be someone else’s turn this season.
10. One Arsenal player you’d love at Southampton?
Ozil is a fairly obvious choice I guess. But I would happily take either Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back too. Both left us too soon in my opinion.
11. Where do you think the game will be decided tomorrow?
Whoever’s defence holds out the best. I still think your centre halves are your weakest area and I think if we can get hold of midfield (no Flamini helps here) we can certainly create chances.
I am going to be optimistic and say we will get a point. 2-2.
Thanks for reading,