Opposition view – Southampton

We catch up with Saints blogger George Galpin ahead of the Swans midweek clash with Southampton at the Liberty…

How’s your season been so far?
It has been a rollercoaster ride to be honest with you; one minute we’re beating Inter, the next snatching a loss from the jaws of victory against Hull! We’ve played well but the ineffectiveness in front of goal means we haven’t got the points to show for it. The League Cup shown that- we beat Liverpool 2-0 on aggregate but anyone watching the games would have wondered how it wasn’t a wider gap.

Congratulations on making the League Cup final, how excited are you by the prospect of seeing your team possibly winning a major trophy?
I’m ecstatic. An element of our support are somewhat bemused we aren’t looking to push on from sixth, but to be brutally honest that is a pipe dream for a club like Saints at the moment. Winning a cup for me is far important than pushing up a place. You remember the trophies, not the 7th placed finishes.

What do the fans make of Claude Puel after his first half a season in charge?
Despite taking us to Wembley, the jury is out for many. Partly because he doesn’t have the same gravitas as Koeman, but mostly because the style of play is less effective. In my own opinion, he’s someone whose work with the young players will reap dividends, but whether he will take advantage of that is unlikely.

Who have been your star players and who needs to up their game?
Virgil Van Dijk has been head and shoulders above anyone else, and is the one player in the squad who is genuinely near world class. It is mainly the midfielders and attackers, bar Oriol Romeu, who need to up their game- a fair number are at 5s and 6s. A lot of that comes from the necessary rotation that makes building form difficult, though.

You’ve been quite quiet this January. Do you need reinforcements or are you happy with how your squad is?
It definitely won’t be on deadline day! A goalkeeper and Manolo Gabbiadini look set to arrive, with the possibility of a centre-back too. Getting the latter in is really important with Jose Fonte leaving, but the striker Gabbiadini could be the missing link that makes the frontline tick.

What do you make of Swansea this season?
A real disappointment if I’m perfectly honest. I can’t really comment on the owner situation as I don’t know enough about it, but I find it a bit weird that Ashley Williams was seemingly let go for a small amount. Three managers in one season is never a good sign, but I think Paul Clement may just keep you up…. but only just.

Predict the score and where both teams will finish…
We’ve been poor away from home, you need the points, we have injuries…. I’m going to say 1-1. I think we will finish 12th, and the Swans I hope will finish 17th. As I’m not desperately keen on a long trip to Sunderland next season, so I’m sure a lot of Saints’ fans will be hoping the Jacks stay up!