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What has gone wrong for struggling Southampton this season?

:Headline: What has gone wrong for struggling Southampton this season?:
Home form and injuries have contributed to Saints' woeful start.
PA | 29d

Southampton find themselves in the Premier League's bottom three after a seven-match winless run including a historic hammering by Leicester.

Here, the PA news agency examines where it has all gone wrong for Saints.

Home discomfort

Opponents have been made to feel all too welcome at St Mary's (Steven Paston/PA)

Ralph Hasenhuttl's Saints have been respectable on the road this season with two wins, a draw and three defeats, two of which have come against Tottenham and Manchester City. Their home record, though, makes grim reading: played six, drawn one – against Manchester United – and lost five, including the Premier League's all-time record home defeat when Leicester romped to a 9-0 scoreline. Fans at St Mary's have witnessed 26 goals this season, only five of them scored by Saints. They will hope things turn around with Watford and Norwich the next two visitors.

Tough schedule

There is at least some mitigation to be found in looking through Southampton's list of opponents so far. They have played 10 of the top 11 teams in the current table – with the one absentee, Arsenal, awaiting in their first game after the international break – and none of their rivals in the bottom five. Even their two games against teams from lower in the table were against Tottenham, Champions League finalists just five months ago, and Everton.

Absences

Moussa Djenepo has impressed but injury has limited his impact (Mark Kerton/PA)

Only three Southampton players – James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Jan Bednarek – have featured in every game this season, with Ward-Prowse the only one to play every minute. Top scorer Danny Ings, a player with a long injury history, has rarely completed 90 minutes while Moussa Djenepo's promising start to his Saints career has been hampered by injury and Nathan Redmond has also missed a couple of games. Midfielder Ward-Prowse is one of the most assured recent graduates of Saints' impressive academy but defender Jack Stephens and forward Michael Obafemi, two other promising home-grown prospects, have rarely featured this season.

Recruitment

Che Adams, centre, has struggled to make an impact after his summer arrival from Birmingham (Steven Paston/PA)

Southampton's pre-season transfer activity was limited, with Djenepo, Che Adams and the on-loan Kevin Danso the only new faces to enjoy meaningful playing time this season – though the club also completed a permanent deal for previous loanee Ings. Adams was tasked with replacing the departed Charlie Austin but remains scoreless, while full-back Matt Targett and midfielders Steven Davis and Jordy Clasie were among other notable departures to leave a squad significantly lacking in depth.

Reliance on officials

Florin Andone's dismissal played an important role in Saints' first win of the season (Steven Paston/PA)

Southampton have needed help from the referee or VAR in most of their positive results this season. Brighton's Florin Andone was sent off at 0-0 in a game Saints eventually won 2-0, while their other win saw a Sheffield United goal disallowed by VAR and Billy Sharp later dismissed – though Djenepo's winner came against 11 men. Oli McBurnie's strike was one of three opposition goals disallowed on review, with Saints picking up an extra point from a 1-1 draw in which Wolves' Raul Jimenez was denied. The boot was on the other foot, though, when Ryan Bertrand was dismissed after a review of a challenge in the lead-up to Leicester's first goal – and another eight followed.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool16151040142646
2Leicester CityLeicester16122239102938
3Manchester CityMan City16102444192532
4Chelsea169253124729
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd166642519624
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves165922319424
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs166553023723
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd165741916322
9Arsenal165742424022
10Crystal Palace166461418-422
11Newcastle UnitedNewcastle166461723-622
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton165472024-419
13Burnley165382129-818
14Everton165291928-917
15Bournemouth164481824-616
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham164481828-1016
17Aston Villa164392328-515
18Southampton164391835-1715
19Norwich CityNorwich1632111734-1711
20Watford16169930-219
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool16151040142646
2Leicester CityLeicester16122239102938
3Manchester CityMan City16102444192532
4Chelsea169253124729
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd166642519624
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves165922319424
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs166553023723
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd165741916322
9Arsenal165742424022
10Crystal Palace166461418-422
11Newcastle UnitedNewcastle166461723-622
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton165472024-419
13Burnley165382129-818
14Everton165291928-917
15Bournemouth164481824-616
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham164481828-1016
17Aston Villa164392328-515
18Southampton164391835-1715
19Norwich CityNorwich1632111734-1711
20Watford16169930-219
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