Southampton beat Swansea 2-0 at the weekend to further underline their credentials as a challenger for a top six place in this season’s Premier League, for which they are currently priced at 10/1.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won four of their first seven games to currently occupy fourth place in the league, drawing comparisons with other fast starters from recent reasons.
West Brom’s record after seven games last year mirrors Southampton’s this time around, with Steve Clarke’s side eventually finishing eighth, but others like Newcastle and Aston Villa have been able to gatecrash the top six, and Saints are arguably superior to those sides in several ways.
Southampton have the best defensive record in the league.
The south coast club have conceded just two goals in seven games so far and kept clean sheets in their past four matches.
West Brom had conceded seven at this stage last year, and ended the year with a negative goal difference, while Newcastle conceded more goals than anyone else in the top eight even while finishing fifth in 2012.
The addition of Dejan Lovren to the back four has proved a masterstroke, while Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin make up an imposing central midfield to shield their defence.
Southampton have already had nine different scorers in all competitions this season
Their amount of different goalscorers offers a better spread than Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton among others.
Dani Osvaldo’s arrival in particular has lessened the pressure on Rickie Lambert to find the net regularly, and again this stands in contrast to sides like West Brom and Newcastle in recent years.
The Baggies relied heavily on loanee Romelu Lukaku, while Newcastle signed Papiss Cisse in January 2012 to try and reduce Demba Ba’s workload, only for the latter to stop scoring immediately.
The Saints’ owners rank as the fifth richest in England
Southampton’s owners demonstrated their willingness to splash that cash over the summer by breaking their transfer record twice with moves for Wanyama and Osvaldo.
As a result, should they suffer a mid-season dip, they could well take advantage of the January transfer window to ensure they maintain a top-six challenge.
Pochettino’s presence means they can attract a higher calibre of player to the club, but having the money to back up that ambition is still the defining factor in signing stars.