Is Southampton's European dream a possibility?

Posted by Chris Rann

Adam Lallana Southampton group celeb SwanseaGettyImagesAdam Lallana fired Southampton in front against Swansea.

Southampton made it three clean sheets on the bounce in Sunday's 2-0 victory over Swansea City, should supporters be checking their Passport expiry dates?

Fourth in the Premier League. Fourth. The tightest defence in UK football. Two more goals from open play. A manager who makes sensible tactical substitutions. A goalkeeper who at times looks unbeatable. Is Saints' European dream a possibility?

In truth Saints were somewhat fortunate to finish with an untarnished goals against column, as Swansea created plenty of chances, only to be thwarted by Artur Boruc, or their own poor finishing. There is an element of irony to Michu's call up to the squad of the world champion's subsequent to the game. No doubt the Spaniard has earned it over the last couple of seasons, but on Sunday's performance he wouldn't get a call up for Scotland, let alone Spain. The big question is, will Dejan Lovren allow him out of his pocket long enough to play for them?

- Pochettino praises Boruc

There always an element of satisfaction to a victory where the defence earns its money with such effect, but applause has to go the way of boss Mauricio Pochettino. If there has been criticism of Southampton managers in the past it is for a lack of a Plan B. In the modern game a manager who can't identify a weak area during play and make formation changes or substitutions to rectify it will soon be found out.

On Sunday Pochettino identified (much like the crowd did) that Danny Fox was having a difficult time with Nathan Dyer (pretty much all of Swansea's attacking intent went through him) and was often left exposed. The Argentine made his move, replacing forward Dani Osvaldo with midfielder James Ward-Prowse. This was a sensible move on two fronts. Firstly Ward-Prowse was stationed over on the left in front of Fox, giving the Scottish left-back some much needed reinforcement to deal with Dyer and secondly because we might have been about to see the fiery side of Osvaldo.

Osvaldo had not long needed treatment after a hefty tackle from Jose Canas, and when he returned to the pitch was not happy. In what looked like a little sideshow developing, I kept my eye on the pair. Osvaldo was following Canas around the pitch keeping up a constant dialogue that based on facial expressions and body language alone was a conversation that was anything but friendly. Should Canas have received the ball at any point during this exchange I think he might have been on the end of some retribution.

A 2-0 victory in favour of Saints certainly seems a little harsh on the visitors, but in truth it should have been three, Victor Wanyama's first goal for the club ruled out for seemingly nothing more than the referee making up for awarding the corner nonsensically in the first place. It was a firm lesson in taking chances. Saints did, Swansea didn't.

With Saints defensive record and lofty table position I am confused. If Manchester United beat Southampton at Old Trafford next time out, will it be an upset or not?


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