This last Saturday, Southampton squared off against Newcastle at St. Mary’s Park in a battle of two mid-table teams with little else to play for other than pride and positioning; both are firmly out of the relegation zone, and neither will likely finish higher than 8th in the table. Southampton entered the match 1 point behind the visitors, but would emerge as a team clearly headed in a different direction than it’s opposition.
The match also proved to be a microcosm of how three Englishman, each vying for a seat on the plane ride to Brazil this summer, have performed on a fantasy level this year.
Adam Lallana (£7.9m)
Season Totals: 9 Goals, 9 Assists, 13 Clean Sheets, 60+ minutes in 30/32 app’s, 83% Pass Accuracy, 56 Chances Created
Lallana has been arguably the Saints’ best player this season. The 25 year old has come into his own and has all but assured himself a spot on the English national team ahead of the World Cup this summer. He’s been utterly dominant at times in Central Midfield, and his play has recently garnered him some lofty praise from his manager Mauricio Pochettino:
“I am always telling him that he has the characteristics of a Spanish player and he has the skills of an Iniesta, Xavi or Fabregas.”
“Adam is special, he is a very unique player,” Pochettino added. “There is not another player in the country like him.”
Against Newcastle he was up to his usual brilliance, completing 38/44 passes (86%), winning 2/3 take on’s, and finding the back of the net on an absolute screamer. He also chipped in an assist for 1 of his 2 created chances, as he found Rickie Lambert on a cross that he was then able to slot home.
Rickie Lambert (£7.2m)
Season Totals: 10 Goals, 10 Assists, 60+ min 26/31 app’s, 68% Pass Accuracy, 49 Chances Created
At age 32, Rickie Lambert has enjoyed a long career. And throughout his long career, one thing has been constant no matter which level of English football he’s played at, and that’s his ability to score goals. He notched 15 for Southampton last year, and with 10 already through week 32, he has an outside chance of reaching that total again. But aside from being a lethal striker, he’s also been a steady provider for his teammates as well. And his ability to provide for others was on display against Newcastle on Saturday – in addition to finding the back of the net himself as well.
As you can see from the map, he only attempted 3 crosses all day but not only were all 3 completed, all of them went for assists as well. This brought his season total to 10 which is already 2 more than he totaled last season, and puts him tied for 3rd in the league with Steven Gerrard, David Silva, and Eden Hazard. He also created 2 other chances on the day, giving him a whopping 5 for the contest. The emergence of Lallana and Jay Rodriguez have sparked the entire Southampton team, and have done wonders for the seasoned veteran Lambert.
Jay Rodriguez (£6.6m)
Season Totals: 15 Goals, 3 Assists, 60+ min 29/32 apps’s, 77% Pass Accuracy, 20 Chances Created
Rodriguez has been the breakout performer of the Premier League this season, and with 15 goals is the second highest scoring Englishman in the league behind Daniel Sturridge (20). He’s more than doubled his previous year’s total of 6 goals, and at a only a mere £6.6m has provided some of the best fantasy value – especially amongst Forwards. He was especially problematic in the Newcastle tilt, constantly getting behind his markers or getting on the other end of crosses, and actually should’ve had 2 or 3 more goals had his touch been slightly better. As it was, he managed a brace (much to the joy of the 16.2% who selected him), but it was his constant pressure that synopsized what he’s done for the Saints this year.
Obviously 2 goals out of 11 shots isn’t the greatest of percentages, instead it shows just how much pressure he put on the Magpie’s back line. As a matter of fact, he spent 60% of his time in the final third of the field. He and the two “L’s” (Lallana/Lambert) made it look all to easy, as they had their way with a lackluster Newcastle side.
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These three “Saintly Lions” have not only transformed Southampton into a formidable mid table club with the promise for more, but they’ve also been among the fantasy elite as all three are currently in the top 11 overall on fantasypremierleague.com (only Liverpool can match). The combination of lower prices and some intriguing matches down the stretch (Cardiff City, Aston Villa, and Swansea all on the docket) should be reason enough for you to make a transfer or two – that is if you haven’t already.
Data provided by Squawka.com
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