The Saints have carries their electric form from Project Restart into this season, and as goals have begun to come from sources other than Danny Ings, they’ve begun to look like a real threat. Sat in sixth place, they boast a seriously strong backline with a number of up-and-coming centre-backs, and Che Adams, Moussa Djenepo, and James Ward-Prowse are all in stunning form at the moment.
Arsenal have yet to travel to the south coast yet this season. We play them first on January 27th at the St. Mary’s, with the date of our home match against them TBC, due to local and international cup restrictions. They won’s post any real threat to out top-four finish, but they might just be able to hold up some of our opponents.
Predicted Finish: 11th or lower.
The last side in this list, Aston Villa sit sixth on grit and merit alone, having continued the fighting spirit that saw them avoid relegation by a point last campaign. Their 7-2 win over Liverpool will go down in history, but they, like Everton, won four from four to start the season. Unlike Everton, they’ve rebounded from their losing slide to beat us 3-0 at the Emirates. I still can’t get over how bad we looked, but also how good they did.
They’re a side with very few weaknesses when they start their strongest XI, but that’s assuming they stay healthy. They’re also notably reliant on Grealish to do just about everything, and although Ollie Watkins has helped shoulder the burden, and a healthy John McGinn is supporting the England starlet, sooner or later, he’ll hit a dry patch. When he does, they’ll tumble down the table.
But not so far as last year. If they can even halve their current form over the rest of the season, they’ll be in with a shot of a top-half finish. Not enough to trouble us, but enough to make the mid-table battle seriously interesting.
Predicted Finish: 10th or lower.
Now for those of you who don’t realize, that means Arsenal will finish sixth this season, if all goes to plan. Which means, unless the Europa League is what we want to play in (again) next season, we have to win it in six months’ time.
But first, we have to overcome some seriously tough opposition. At least eight clubs stand in our way of a top six finish, let along top-four. And believe me, there’s nothing I want more than the latter. But we have to be realistic. With our current form, a Europa League place would be a blessing.