Following Paul Lamberts Norwich side completing the impressive feat of going from League One to the Premier League in just two seasons other sides will believe the feat is achievable in modern day Football and that the gap in standard between the Football Leagues is closing.
Southampton lead by Nigel Atkins are looking to follow in the footsteps of Norwich having gained promotion from League One last term by finished runner up to Gus Poyet’s Brighton side.
Followers of the championship will realise that there are currently three teams with 100% records in the Championship after three games, the promoted Brighton, Southampton and Nigel Clough’s Derby County.
Whilst both the sides that were promoted automatically had impressive starts I will focus more of Southampton as in my opinion they have been the more impressive of the two sides and have a bigger chance of back to back promotion than their south coast neighbours.
Southampton’s start has been particularly impressive due to the sides they have beat so far, when the fixture list was released many experts would of predicted a draw at best at home to Leeds, whilst a win away at Barnsley was some what expected no one would of predicted a win away at Ipswich especially not as emphatically as they did.
On the opening day, the Saints dismantled a Leeds side expected to challenge for the play offs 3-1 with a last minute Max Gradel penalty the only dark mark over a brilliant start.
Ironically the toughest game the Saints have faced so far was away at Barnsley who many tip for relegation; Southampton struggled to a 1-0 win thanks to a David Connolly goal.
But without a doubt Southampton’s best performance was away at many peoples outside tip for promotion Ipswich Town, a away win 5-2 in the Championship is never easy against a promotion rival its almost unheard of, the saints romped to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from the prolific Ricky Lambert and David Connolly. Ipswich set the cat amongst the pigeons by scoring twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half however the Southampton raped things up with two goals from huge talent Adam Lallana.
As impressive as the clubs three victories so far have been the club will have no time to pat themselves on the back as they have some tricky fixtures coming in the next three weeks.
Tomorrow the club host a tricky Millwall side who have a caused both Reading and Nottingham Forest trouble this term, following that Southampton travel to Sven Goran Eriksson’s big spending Leicester side who were the early favourites for the title but have not met the expectations so far.
After these two difficult fixtures Southampton have a nightmare September which will really show how equipped they are for a title race. They travel to Nottingham Forest and Birmingham both of whom have promotion ambitions of their own, things don’t get any easier, next up is a trip to Burnley’s Turf Moor another side who will be aiming for the play offs and then to end the month Southampton visit Cardiff who will be hoping for automatic promotion themselves.
If these fixtures cropped up in March then it would be labelled as a make or break month as its September it may not do too much damage to the clubs ambitions.
Of course it is too early to tell if the Saints are up to the challenge of gaining back to back promotions and even if they lose the tough looking next few fixtures it will prove nothing, the race for promotion is a marathon not a sprint and judging from the early evidence the Southampton squad have the ability and the team bond to last the course.
What are your thoughts? Are Atkins men good enough to gain promotion? How impressed have you been with the sides start to the season? How do you think they will fare against big spending Leicester and a tough Millwall side? Will September make or break Southampton’s season? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts
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