Which Southampton players belong at the top table?

Posted by Chris Rann

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesNew arrival Dejan Lovren has been a revelation this season in the Premier League for Southampton.

With Saints starting the season so well and starting to gain exposure for their hard work and talent, it is all too easy for fans of other clubs to suggest it is fluke. But you don't fluke your way to only conceding three goals in the opening eight games. This has come from discipline, great coaching and having the right players. With so many questioning Saints' credentials as a top side, I thought I would suggest which of the Saints players belong in the top echelons of the Premier League.

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Artur Boruc

Anyone who has watched Saints this season will know that this one is a no-brainer. The Polish keeper has been beyond outstanding, finally bringing a confidence to the stands that hasn't been seen since the days of Antti Niemi. The fact that he has recently been preferred to Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny for Poland confirms Boruc's place as a top six player.

Nathaniel Clyne

For me, Clyne is a better full back than current England options Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker. Clyne has the perfect balance of defensive capability and attacking intent which makes him one of the most underrated players around at the moment. He showed on Saturday how to deal with 'flavour of the month' Adnan Januzaj, working him out very quickly.

Dejan Lovren

Saints' signing of Lovren was reasonably low profile, and in the current transfer climate, £8.5 million is barely worth talking about. Gary Neville's gushing over the Croatian's performance against Manchester United could have been applied to every appearance so far, and he looks like being the signing of the season. A truly classy centre half who is as comfortable on the ball as he is shepherding strikers. Daniel Sturridge, Michu and Robin van Persie can be found snuggling in his pocket.

Luke Shaw

The fact that the goalkeeper and three of the back four make this list says everything you need to know about why Saints are so solid defensively. Shaw is still only 18 but plays like a seasoned veteran. Everyone knows that he has a massive future, and come summer Roy Hodgson could have an embarrassment of riches to choose from at left back.

Morgan Schneiderlin

Tony Pulis (granted not the definitive authority on the subject) described Schneiderlin recently as the 'most complete midfielder in the Premier League' and Gary Neville said he was 'amazed that the big clubs weren't moving for him in the summer'. The Frenchman has become Saints' crucial link between defence and attack and he consistently produces immaculate performances. There is now even an internet campaign from some French fans for him to get a chance with Didier Deschamps' national team.

Adam Lallana

I was critical of Lallana's performances last season, and even suggested that the captain shouldn't be starting games. This season though has seen the Lallana of old emerge from the shadows of some of his more exposed teammates. Lallana has been in scintillating form -- terrorising Patrice Evra on Saturday was the pinnacle.

James Ward-Prowse

This is perhaps my most controversial pick as he isn't a regular starter for Saints. Yet. Ward-Prowse is showing all the hallmarks of a great midfielder and is another with a big future ahead of him. I have said it before and I don't mind saying it again, he reminds me of Paul Scholes (the best English midfielder of his generation) and also brings fantastic set-piece technique to the table.

Dani Osvaldo

The Italian is still finding his feet in the Premier League, but those feet are pretty talented when they have the ball. Although he hasn't scored as many goals as he might have liked, his touch and vision is plain for all to see, and the fact he is starting games for Italy makes his inclusion justified.

Rickie Lambert

The man who constantly has to prove himself. But not to Saints fans. He scores goals in any situation and at any level; that, no one can argue. The part outsiders often don't see though is his contribution to the team’s style. That was shown after being brought on at Old Trafford on Saturday -- Lambert's introduction gave Saints a renewed impetus and Jonny Evans more to think about. More than just a goalscorer.

So that is my list. For me any of those players would be at home playing for any of the 'top' clubs in the Premier League. Some, dare I say it would replace the current incumbents of their position. Saints don't quite have squad depth that they might like, but they do have a core of players that have every right to be pushing the big boys. Can they keep their run going? Inevitably injuries will hamper them at some point, but when the first choice eleven is fit, this team is a match for anybody.

Keep the faith.


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