Weblog: The football punter

Something special in the Solent water

THERE must be something in the Solent water, because Southampton have no right to be doing this well again.

Each and every summer, as player after player walks away from St Mary’s, closely followed by the manager, you think this has got to be it. Breaking point. Surely the only way is down.

Saints’ fans were quick to hit out when Nigel Adkins, the man who got them up into the Premier League, was jettisoned for some little-known incomer called Pochettino.

He went on to bring in some players, improve the team, oversee a player exodus, and leave. Then came Koeman who brought in some players, improved the team, oversaw a player exodus, and left. And now it’s Claude Puel who will doubtless bring in some players, improve the team, oversee, oh, you get the picture.

Puel’s lads welcome Chelsea to the south coast and they are a big price to take the points.

Soton have basically done nothing wrong all season. A couple of early-season setbacks at Manchester United and Arsenal have been forgotten – indeed since the reverse at the Emirates they’re unbeaten in five in the Premier League culminating in Sunday’s excellent 1-1 draw at Manchester City.

There’s a danger we’ve got carried away with Chelsea’s wins over Leicester and Man U – they’d won only one of their previous five in all competitions.

Yes, Conte’s lads played well in both games, but both opponents were dreadful. Southampton won’t be.

Chelsea are too short and so too are Everton against West Ham. The Hammers away are still useful and it looks like the last international break came at a good time for Slaven Bilic. They can definitely avoid defeat at Goodison as a bare minimum.

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Match in Focus

21:00 TODAY BT S

Nacional v Sp. Lisbon

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Sporting have won five of the last six meetings to nil
Expert verdict
Sporting trail league leaders Benfica by five points but they should have too much quality for Nacional and are taken to brush them aside in Madeira. The hosts have lost six of their last eight home matches, conceding a total of 15 goals and they could struggle to keep tabs on Sporting, who were unlucky in recent clashes with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.