A month ago, Southampton was sitting second in the table after coming off a 2-0 win against Leicester City and feeling on top of the world.
The Saints had just won their fourth game in a row and had genuine European aspirations.
That’s when the wheels fell off.
A draw against Aston Villa which featured a brain-fart goal was just the beginning of the slide. Next came four straight losses against some of the top sides in England, which is a bit understandable, but this is a team with its sights set high.
Which brings us to this weekend’s loss to Burnley – almost unforgivable for a side with European dreams.
The Clarets scored the game’s lone goal on a mistake and deflection by Southampton’s formerly outstanding back four.
Before this five-game winless run, Southampton had allowed just five goals in 11 games. Since, it has been eight goals in five contests and the mistakes and mental errors are adding up.
The goals have dried up on the other end too. Against a Burnley side that has allowed 24 goals this season and sat in the relegation zone for much of the campaign, the Saints could only muster four shots on target – including Dusan Tadic’s missed penalty.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier in the meantime either, with Chelsea and rematches with Arsenal and Manchester United on the horizon. By the time that the Saints get an easy run of games, it may already be far too late to salvage their hopes for this season.
INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
We saw two big milestones reached this week by two men that have had a huge impact on each other in their careers.
First, we saw Chelsea’ Jose Mourinho become the fastest EPL manager to reach 400 points, doing so in 174 games. That’s a full 17 games faster than the next man on the list, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Then, in the late Saturday game, former Chelsea talisman Frank Lampard scored his 175th Premier League goal, tying him for fourth all time with Thierry Henry.
Too see these two reach such high milestones on the same day is quite the pleasant coincidence.
The more impressive feat I’d say is Lampard’s. For a midfielder to score that many goals – even if he has scored a wealth of them on penalties – is nothing short of amazing.
With a loan move to New York City FC imminent – he could be on the move as early as February – I don’t see him moving much farther up the ranks.
Alan Shearer is top of the list with an unreachable 260 while it would take quite a bit of luck to surpass Andrew Cole at 187. Considering Wayne Rooney in third place with 179 is still chugging along, even that spot seems unattainable.
But that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating “Fat Frank,” one of the best midfield scorers of all-time.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
It was just in April when Liverpool faced Manchester United and dominated in a 3-0 result. Now, it has been flipped with the Red Devils soundly outplaying the Reds … If you don’t think David De Gea is the second best keeper in the world right now, you didn’t watch this game … Every time I see West Ham sitting in fourth in mid-December, I think that it must be a typo. Even stranger, the Hammers are still doing it with offence as they only have three clean sheets this season … What a perfectly placed strike by Stewart Downing. He didn’t get much on the shot, but rolled it right into the corner … Welcome back, Petr Cech. It was nice to see the Chelsea great between the sticks with Thibault Courtois out with a minor injury … Arsenal always dominates Newcastle when the Magpies come to visit London and this game was no different. With all of these injured Gunners coming back, this is a team to watch out for in 2015.
THE LAST WORD
How many people would’ve thought that we’d see a Manchester City striker set a record this season?
OK, probably a lot of people. But you would’ve guessed it would’ve been for something to do with scoring.
Jose Pozo will go into the record books for another reason: By wearing the No. 78, he has worn the highest jersey number in Premier League history.
Thanks to an injury during warmups for Edin Dzeko, Pozo was pressed into action against Leicester.
Personally, I frown upon players using needless high numbers, especially in footie.
It’s not like there are 77 other taken numbers that has pushed Pozo into this obscene territory. While we often see high numbers in Serie A for some reason, England had actually disallowed players from using such outlandish numbers in the past.
Really, it should’ve stepped in again.
Final fun fact: Pozo’s nickname is Mini-Messi, which is deeply ironic considering he is taller than the Barcelona sensation by half an inch.
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