Southampton remain in the Champions League places after another victory: could they stay there? Could bigger clubs start sniffing around Ralph Hasenhuttl?
While there is always the strong suspicion that ultimately everything will return to ‘normal’ eventually, the top of the Premier League does have a rather unusual look to it at the moment.
Tottenham are top, Leicester are third, West Ham sixth and Manchester City down in ninth.
But arguably the most impressive team in the Champions League places at the moment is Southampton, who chalked up another (admittedly quite straightforward) win over Sheffield United at the weekend.
“If there was a form table for managers, Ralph Hasenhuttl would be top of it at the moment,” said Matt Davies-Adams on The Totally Football Show this week.
“If Mikel Arteta got the sack from Arsenal, you’d think he would be pretty high up the list. What an extraordinary job he’s done.
“They didn’t beat much this weekend, but what I like about them is they spread their goals around. If you think of Southampton, you think of Danny Ings, but they’ve had nine different goalscorers in the Premier League this season. Nathan Redmond got one against Sheffield United, Theo Walcott has added a lot more than I thought he would.
“It just seems like they’ve got a manager who’s easy to play for. He’s the standout manager in the Premier League this season.”
It’s a theme all around Europe, with the tops of all the major leagues looking a little unfamiliar: Real Sociedad lead in Spain, Bayer Leverkusen are top in Germany, Milan’s resurgence continues in Italy while Lille and Lyon are ahead in France.
The latter could, as Michael Cox points out, provide a parallel for Southampton, and suggests this form could continue deep into the season:
“I’d make the Lyon point as well: they’re the only one of the top five who aren’t involved in Europe, so that will mean they have a freshness that the other sides don’t.
“They are a side who press very well, are very cohesive without the ball. I think they could have a really good season – they are having a very good season.
“I think we could see real tiredness from the big clubs over the next month. The fixture list over Christmas really is quite incredible considering a lot of these sides are running on empty already. I fancy Southampton to go really well.”
However, there are clear signs that things might not go quite as well:
“Their issue is the depth of the squad, which is going to be the issue for a lot of teams who started the season well. They coped pretty well without Danny Ings, but if they lost Oriol Romeu or James Ward-Prowse then they don’t have a lot behind them: they sold Mario Lemina and Harrison Reed in the summer.
“But in terms of their first-team – they’re one of the form teams in the Premier League.
“The other slight potential fly in the ointment is that the next ‘big six’ club, or big club abroad, that wants to appoint a manager, would be foolish not to hammering on Hasenhuttl’s door.
“I’m talking about Arsenal and Manchester United, chiefly: he would be an improvement on both of those managers, on current evidence.”
Otherwise, you can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Football Show here, and even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.