Ahead of tonight's FA Cup replay with Norwich City, Southampton full-back Cedric Soares has maintained his belief in the side’s quality.
Even with the Saints having lost four straight in the league, compounded by a devastating 1-0 Premier League defeat at the hands of Burnley last time out. Soares isn't prepared to let heads drop; he believes that if his team “keep working” then the “goals are going to come.”
Putting things right
Though Joey Barton’s winner may have made the headlines, Soares also states that his teammates are “clear of all the principles” in their play – something that was clear to see in the only recent win, at home to Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-finals.
With the South coast club’s league position slipping since Christmas, perhaps the FA and EFL cups are their only hope of qualifying for European football again this season. The Portuguese defender disagrees, as he goes on to say that "three or four wins [in the Premier League] we are back there [in the top half]".
Unfortunate to unconvincing
What has been worrying about Southampton’s latest losses is a change in the manner of them; narrow unfortunate defeats have turned into lacklustre performances.
Against Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, once the opponents took the lead Saints crumbled; they never got back into those games and failed to challenge or mount a comeback.
Turning to losses versus clubs Claude Puel’s side are expected to beat in West Brom and Burnley, the same could be said again.
Soares notes that before last weekend's game “there were two or three game we didn't play so good” he's right. Yet the last loss in which he describes as “not the same case”, it could be argued that this is the story of Saints’ season – playing well but not scoring and not closing out the game.
It's easy to look at Southampton and point out the clear problem – a lack of a potent goal scorer, striker Charlie Austin has been sorely missed. With defender Virgil van Dijk seemingly being the only threat in terms of goals, coach Puel clearly has a problem.
But what also sticks out is the team’s effort as a whole, for 90 minutes at home to Liverpool the side remained focused; their opposition barely managed a shot on goal because of the concentration and on top of that, the scoreline wasn’t representative of chances created by the Saints.
However in many a league game there has been many occasions where the effort isn't present throughout an entire game. If you let up at any stage in the Premier League you'll be punished; Tottenham and West Brom took full advantage of lapses in defensive concentration.
Not due to a poor defence, the full eleven must take responsibility and act as a cohesive unit consistently.
After hosting Norwich and Leicester this week, Soares and Southampton travel to Anfield in what is easily the biggest game for the club in years.