An alarming slide of four points from eight games in which they were beaten six times between late November and early January briefly threatened to plunge Southampton into relegation jeopardy.
Three matches and three wins later, everything has changed. Suddenly the top-six finish which narrowly eluded them last season appears possible, with a mere three points separating them from sixth-placed West Ham and their odds trimming from a high of 19.0 to 4.3100/30 as a result.
Why the dramatic turnaround? Here are five contributing factors...
A change of shape
In the ultimate snub to Steven Caulker, whose loan Southampton agreed to cancel to free him to move to Liverpool, the Saints have switched to three centre backs since ditching him, even though it has meant playing left back Ryan Bertrand as one of the three in the middle. It has worked a treat so far though, with promising youngster Matt Targett coming into the team as the left-sided wing back.
Getting the defensive band back together
These three successive victories have coincided with the return of two key men to the starting XI after injury. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster had been out all campaign, while right back Cedric Soares sat out a sequence of three defeats in four after Christmas. Southampton haven't conceded in their four-and-a-half hours back on the pitch, and it was at the back that they had the most potential to grow as their 2014/15 success was built from the back, leaking just 0.87 goals per game.
Clasie starting to shine through
Arguably their most exciting summer addition was Jordy Clasie, who featured in the semi-finals and third-place play-off at World Cup 2014 for the Netherlands, but injury meant that he didn't make his Premier League debut until October, by which point he was playing catch-up. The midfielder wasn't too impactful on his first seven top-flight starts, yet an increase in his influence was evident in the wins over Watford and Manchester United, which were probably his two brightest displays to date.
Playing clubs at the right time
It is also arguable that Southampton's last few assignments weren't as daunting as the ones they were screwing up not so long ago like Manchester City and West Ham away or Stoke and Tottenham at home. They hosted Watford right after the Hornets' hot streak cooled off with two losses in six days, and then caught West Brom when the Baggies were winless in six of their travels before visiting Man United when they were enduring an unusual spell of two league triumphs in nine.
The boost of a rare positive transfer window
Transfer windows are typically approached with dread by Southampton supporters and employees as they are enticed to sell their star players. Even boss Ronald Koeman expressed his irritation last month that they were the sole side to produce a profit in pre-season. This January has been a more pleasant experience as they are expected to resist interest in Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane and they have recruited one of the most in-demand men in the market in Charlie Austin for £4 million. He needed less than ten minutes to become a hero, scoring the winner off the bench at Man United.
You might think that a trip to Arsenal next week will ruin the revival, but Koeman has lost only twice in ten career clashes against Arsene Wenger, winning three out of four with the Saints. They are 5.24/1 to build on the 4-0 romp past the Gunners at the Emirates with three points at the Emirates.
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