How are Southampton surprising everyone after stunning start?

1 Comment

After five games of the Premier League season, Southampton are in second place in the standings.

Saints fans aren’t getting too carried away, yet, but everyone else seems to be.

[RELATED: Fabregas hints at Arsenal return]

Following an incredible summer exodus which saw Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Calum Chambers all leave St Mary’s, many pundits were tipping Saints for relegation. However, with three wins from five and some exhilarating performances under new manager Ronald Koeman, spirits are high on the South Coast of England. It was revealed that the entire first team squad opted to not have a day off this week and instead spend time at the training ground. Talk about commitment.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recently said the following, as the mystique around Saints’ success remains.

“They are miracle workers at Southampton,” Wenger said. “I think if you look at the talents they have sold over the years, they could have been contenders to win the Premier League because they lost Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Bale. They have done a fantastic job at Southampton, they deserve a lot of credit. Everybody expected them to collapse [this season]. They lost the spine of their team, they lost their manager and they bounced back in such a way.”

Here’s a look at four factors why the Saints are surprising everyone so far this season. The big question is, can they keep it going and better their eighth place finish from last season?

source: Getty Images
Koeman’s arrival as boss has been key in steadying Saints.

Top quality coaches arrive

When Mauricio Pochettino walked out on Southampton to join Tottenham in the summer, you feared the worst for Saints. The Argentine boss had come in and revolutionized the side with a high-pressing style admired across the league. His departure sparked Lallana, Shaw, Lambert and others to leave but Southampton steadied the ship by bringing in Dutch national team legend Koeman as their new boss. The 51-year-old former Ajax and Barcelona star has instantly brought his prestige to Southampton and seems a big upgrade on Pochettino already. He has kept Saints’ hard-working core at the center of the club but has encouraged his players to get on the ball, be creative and push forward whenever possible.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

That creative approach was sometimes missing under Pochettino. Koeman has his brother, Erwin, as his assistant, plus Liverpool legend Sammy Lee and England goalkeeping coach Dave Watson have come on board. After coaching Feyenoord, Ajax and Benfica, many may have thought Koeman was taking a step down by joining Saints. If things carry on like this, it could be his biggest success in coaching thus far.

Shrewd spending

Along with Koeman’s wonderful work on the training ground to turn things around, his big-name status across Europe has encouraged plenty of top players to join Saints. They lost five key players but replaced them with eight new men, all of whom are national team players. Saints brought in goalkeeper Fraser Forster from Celtic for $16 million, Shane Long from Hull City for $20 million, Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord for $14 million, Dusan Tadic from FC Twente for $18 million, Florin Gardos from Steaua Bucharest for $10 million and Sadio Mane from Red Bull Salzburg for $19 million. Plus the loan signings of Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand have been key. Simply put, they’ve made a $60 million net profit in the transfer market and their squad is a lot stronger now than it was this time last year. Keeping French international Morgan Schneiderlin was key and huge credit must be given to Chairman Ralph Krueger and his staff for performing one of the largest, and so far most successful, overhauls in Premier League history. The scouting department at Saints does a tremendous job.

source: Getty Images
Pelle, Tadic, Mane, Forster, Bertrand and more. Saints spent wisely over the summer.

Youth element remains

With all these new players coming in, surely that means the end for Saints’ bright young academy talents? Not at all. James Ward-Prowse has been key in the early success and 19-year-old left back Matt Targett is pushing Bertrand all the way for a starting spot. Sam Gallagher, Sam McQueen and Harrison Reed all continue to be in and around the first team and although they may not quite have the talent of Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers or Adam Lallana, yet, the current crop of youngsters aren’t far off. Saints’ conveyor belt of talent continues to roll off the line of their Staplewood training ground.

Easy-ish schedule

All of the positives we’ve just mentioned are big parts of Saints’ early-season success, but they have been handed a fairly easy schedule. Liverpool away on the opening day was tough and they should have got at least a point from that. However, they are unbeaten after a draw with West Brom and then three-straight wins vs. West Ham, Newcastle and Swansea. Saints also beat a slightly under-strength Arsenal 2-1 away from home in the League Cup but their biggest test will arrive in December and January when they face Arsenal and Manchester United home and away, plus games against Chelsea and Everton. Only after those matches will we truly know if Saints are the real deal and can challenge for a top six spot. For now, Ronald Koeman’s side are enjoying being the surprise package after a turbulent summer.

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

Leave a comment

ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week ProSoccerTalk writers Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way and maybe a beer or two…

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

UEFA Champions League qualifying
Photo by Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 12 clubs remaining in the race for the final UEFA Champions League group stage slots will be pared down to six in the next eight days.

There are American connections to two of the six ties.

Former USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch manages Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg toward the next round, while Molde right back Henry Wingo came up with the Seattle Sounders.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salzburg are significant favorites to advance over two legs, odds accentuated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s seven players absent due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Marsch had previously said he did not want to go to Israel due to COVID-19 concerns, calling it “dangerous,” but has accepted the task at hand.

From Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung:

“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”

At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.

Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.

Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.

How to watch the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday
Stream: CBS All-Access (subscription required)

UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.


Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK


Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia

Sept. 29

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv

League Cup: How to watch, start times, as Premier League powers enter

League Cup
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fifteen Premier League teams eye dates in the fourth round when the League Cup returns for another September midweek.

The congested nature of the season will see some PL sides play three matches in as many weeks, though the European qualifying teams are just entering the fray this week.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

That includes Europa League sides Arsenal and Leicester City, who will stage the lone all-PL scrap of the round come Wednesday at the King Power Stadium.

Tuesday was going to see Tottenham Hotspur visit a club sponsored by Spurs striker Harry Kane, but Leyton Orient is in the news after positive COVID-19 tests have threatened to forfeit Spurs into the next round.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Manchester United will hope to snap out of its season-opening funk when it begins its tourney Tuesday at Luton Town, while Chelsea hosts Barnsley on Wednesday.

Liverpool is off to Lincoln City on Thursday, kicking off its League Cup at the same time Manchester City welcomes Bournemouth.

Because of the aforementioned congested September in the tournament, the fourth round draw has already been held and those fixtures are at bottom of the page.

League Cup third round draw

All times ET

Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur — Postponed
West Brom 2-2 Brentford – (Brentford win on penalty kicks)
Newport County 3-1 Watford 
West Ham United 5-1 Hull City
Luton Town 0-3 Manchester United 

Preston North End v Brighton — 2 pm
Millwall v Burnley — 2 pm
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday — 2 pm
Stoke City v Gillingham — 2 pm
Chelsea v Barnsley — 2:45 pm
Leicester City v Arsenal — 2:45 pm
Fleetwood Town v Everton — 2:45 pm
Morecambe v Newcastle United — 2:45 pm

Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm

League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United

How to watch League Cup third round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via

Premier League player Power Rankings

Leave a comment

Premier League player Power Rankings are here!

Our second player Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season have arrived, as all 20 teams have played and we are coming off the highest scoring matchweek in Premier League history with 44 goals scored across the 10 games.

Simply put: it was incredibly tough to put 20 players in this list based on the crazy results across the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Stars from Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton dominate our second player Power Rankings and there are plenty of new signings who have impressed early in the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t going to be in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.

1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
2. James Rodriguez (Everton)
3. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)
4. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
5. Heung-min Son (Tottenham)
6. Fabinho (Liverpool)
7. Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)
8. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
9. Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
10. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
11. Gabriel (Arsenal)
12. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal)
13. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
14. Vicente Guaita (Crystal Palace)
15. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
16. Patrick Bamford (Leeds)
17. Timothy Castagne (Leicester)
18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
19. Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
20. Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)