Go back to November and Southampton sat top of the Premier League following a win over Newcastle United. Fast forward four months and the Saints are just seven points clear of the drop.
During that time, Ralph Hassenhüttl’s side lost 9-0 to Manchester United, have registered a club-record of six successive Premier League losses and are now without a win in nine games.
Can the Saints move back up the league or are they now facing the reality that they are involved in a relegation battle?
Southampton: From Premier League Leaders to Potential Relegation Candidates
Top of the Premier League
November 6, 2020: Southampton sat top of the first division for the first time since 1988. A 2-0 win over Newcastle continued what was an impressive start to the season for the Saints – which would continue until the New Year.
The result came just over one year since that 9-0 trouncing at home to Leicester City. That in itself had shown that the club were progressing in the right direction. That form had continued after project restart with Southampton recording the third-best form in the division after the resumption of football.
Fall From Grace
The Newcastle game fell on a Friday so by the end of the weekend, Southampton had dropped back down to fourth but sat just two points behind first-placed Leicester. Four match weeks later, the Saints were still just two points off the pace with Tottenham leading the pack.
Since that Newcastle result, Southampton have played 18 Premier League games, but their record is woeful. Saints have picked up just 14 points from a possible 54, winning three, drawing five and losing ten games. Their last win came on January 4 in a 1-0 win over then league leaders Liverpool. After that win, the Saints still sat just four points behind the top side, and that was just two months ago.
That run has seen the Saints fall to just seven points clear of the bottom three and are 14 points off a European place. While the reality of relegation seems unlikely, the threat is certainly there.
Relegation Battle for Southampton
A continued slump in form could change that. If sides below continue to pick up points, Hassenhüttl could see his side become immersed in a relegation battle.
A trip to bottom club Sheffield United could be a huge six-pointer for both sides, with the Blades desperately in need of picking up points if they are to achieve a great escape.
A free hit against Manchester City follows before another tough test against strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion. After their FA Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth, the Saints then face three more sides who are in around the bottom.
Where it Has Gone Wrong
Like most clubs, Southampton have had their fair share of injuries this season. Hassenhüttl is currently without seven first-team players and this will affect any team struggling for form.
Elsewhere, the Saints have also had their VAR controversies. In the build-up to Leicester’s opener at the King Power Stadium, Ibrahima Diallo appeared to be held back by Wilfred Ndidi and lost possession as a result.
Against Villa, VAR decided not to award Southampton a penalty after Matty Cash handled the ball in the box. Later in the game, Ings saw a goal ruled out for offside after his arm had strayed beyond the last defender.
Although Southampton were already six goals down against Manchester United when Bednarek was sent off, the decision to award a penalty and dismissal was soft. The defender even claimed that Anthony Martial admitted there hadn’t been any contact.
Saints would have also felt harshly done by against Wolves. Nelson Semedo’s shot hit Ryan Bertrand on the arm as the defender turned away from the shot with his arms tucked in. The penalty was awarded, and converted, before they went on to take all three points.
While these incidents and injuries aren’t indicative of their poor form, they have certainly played a part. Southampton need to start picking up points sooner rather than later or an already disappointing campaign could turn into a nightmare.