Earlier in the season we looked at various stats comparing Koeman's team to last years' vintage. Below are some updated numbers:
Having played everyone and despite a poor run to start December, the numbers have stayed impressive. Any talk of the team being merely flat track bullies was quietened by a loss at the Burnley and an unbeaten Christmas run.
There were worries coming into the season whether the departures in defense and more relaxed attitude to pressing would result in a lot less clean sheets. These fears were unfounded as the saints have gone on to boast the best defensive record in the league.
The home game against Chelsea served as a perfect example of how Koeman has changed things. A year ago Mourinho completely nullified Pochettino's master plan. Chelsea hoofed the ball over midfield, the high press was useless and the defense couldn't cope with the rapid breaks. This year the saints barely tracked the ball in the opposition half, instead they made sure they got back into position as soon as possible and managed to keep the seemingly unstoppable league leaders down to a single shot on target. This was the fabled plan B, a quality that was certainly lacking last season.
Up front things have also improved. Less possession may have resulted in less shots, but the new men are exhibiting a more direct style and, with added guile, creating better opportunities. Pochettino essentially plays three number tens behind the striker while Koeman's 4-3-3 has the qualities of history's purveyor's of orange total football. The midfield three constantly rotate, leading to a greater threat from deep.
Earlier in the season we looked at the saints performances compared to how difficult fixtures were last season. Now every team has played each other we'll compare it to this year. The hardest fixture so far this season is Chelsea away, the opposition have yet to take a point from trips to the bridge. On the other end of the scale is a home game against QPR, opponents have taken all the points on offer when QPR come to town:
The white background shows the average points scored by opposition in each fixture, while the red stripes are how many the saints won. Crosses mark a saints loss and the blanks are fixtures yet to be played.
First thing you see is the mass of red at the easy end of the spectrum. Of the nine easiest fixtures this season, saints have already played seven, winning six. The team's stay in the upper echelons of the league has constantly been belittled by pundits, but being a flat track bully has seen Wenger line up in the champions league for years. The numbers show the much heralded victory over Arsenal on new years' day was perhaps less impressive than wins at Swansea and West Ham.
Opposition teams have taken 26% of the points available from trips to St Mary's, the same as Swansea's Liberty Stadium. While teams have scored 48% from saints away games, making it a fixture as difficult as a trip to Villa or Stoke.
Next up are tricky trips to Manchester united and newcastle, 2nd and 9th toughest respectively.
So all in all a great season thus far. Here is how the Koeman's doing in the race for the saints' premier league record:
Tomorrow we'll have a look at some individual player stats and crown a player of the season so far. Who does your vote go to?