Southampton don’t have squad to finish in top four, says Arsenal legend
Ronald Koeman has exceeded expectations at Southampton, says Perry Groves
Southampton don’t have the squad depth to secure a top-four finish this season, according to Perry Groves.
The Saints are currently in fourth place after Ronald Koeman’s men battled to a 1-1 draw with Premier League leaders Chelsea at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Southampton have managed to stay in the race for a Champions League place despite a string of injuries to Koeman’s already-stretched squad in recent weeks.
But former Saints winger Groves played down the South Coast club’s chances of qualifying for Europe’s top tier competition ahead of their clash against the Gunners on New Year’s Day.
“They’re not realistic top-four contenders,” Groves told The Sport Review.
“They won’t have the strength and depth in their squad. They’ve lost five successive games [in November and December] because Morgan Schneiderlin was injured, Pelle missed a game and Aldeirweld was out as well.
“A club like Southampton, if you’re missing three players, it weakens your club considerably.”
Although Groves doubts Southampton can secure a top-four finish, the former Arsenal forward believes Koeman has exceeded expectations in his first season at the Saints.
“I don’t think anybody did [expect Koeman to do so well]. Obviously Southampton lost their best players at the beginning of the season, most people thought they’d be in a relegation battle,” Groves added.
“Ronald Koeman is a very astute manager and he knows European football. The signings that he has made to replace the players that have left have been excellent.”