A last-gasp loss at Arsenal was the second in succession for Southampton, who, sitting uncomfortably on a gnarled doormat, have already started careering down the Premier League helter-skelter.
Their 1-0 reverse at the Emirates followed a 3-0 routing at the hands of champions Manchester City, who only required ten men to score the bulk of their goals.
With bang in form Manchester United up next, the prospect of their dreary fortunes improving in the immediate future appears bleak, even if they share a price of 163/100 to claim the St Mary’s spoils.
After losing 2-1 at Liverpool and 1-0 at Tottenham earlier in the campaign, the barbershop-striped club wilt when squaring off with the big guns.
Prior to last weekend’s action, they sat comfortably in second after plundering four wins from five top-tier outings.
They now find themselves third, but a mere three points clear of sixth.
Defeat against Man Utd will increase the velocity of their slide, and with fixtures to follow against Everton and Chelsea before the year is out, they’re near certainties to start 2014 in the lower reaches of the upper echelons.
And their whistle-stop tour of the Premier League from the top down won’t stop there, with a dip into the toe-curling cold waters of the bottom half beckoning.
Now the inability of Ronald Koeman’s men to flatten fat cats has been exposed, the small fries from whom they’ve been stealing lunch money all season long won’t see them as a force to fear any longer.
This ousting from the elite is sure to have dented confidence within the camp too, meaning it’ll be exceedingly difficult to string together such runs of imperiousness as the eight wins in nine that guided them to second.
Signs of self-doubt creeping in are already evident in leading scorer Graziano Pelle’s going seven league games without a goal.
Star man Morgan Schneiderlin, whose absence from half-time in the Man City match onwards played a key part in Saints’ losses to the Citizens and Arsenal, has today been linked with a move away from the south-coast club for the umpteenth time.
The Frenchman’s passing picking prowess and positional savvy makes him one of the most proficient fulcrums between defence and attack in the entire division and to lose his services in January, which they conceivably could, will have dire ramifications for the remainder of the campaign.
But don’t wait around for that to happen before you back Southampton at 9/1 to finish in the bottom half, do it now while the getting’s good.