Southampton supporters have been significantly more upbeat in the Transfer Tavern in recent days after seeing their side end a run of nine matches without a win with a narrow 1-0 success at Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash with the Championship club having failed to win since November 26, embarking on a nine-game winless run which has plummeted them towards the Premier League’s bottom three. However, there was some respite for under-fire Pellegrino as James Ward-Prowse’s strike midway through the first half was enough to seal the win for the Saints, in turn avoiding a potential banana skin, as well as booking their spot in the last 32 of the world’s oldest club competition.
Consequently, there have been more positive Southampton fans in the Tavern in the last few days, several of whom are hoping that Saturday’s victory could be the catalyst for an improved run of form from their side.
In the meantime though, there has been plenty for our resident Saints fans to get their teeth into, not least recent reports linking Arsenal forward Theo Walcott with a return to St Mary’s.
The 28-year-old left the club back in 2006 and has since scored 108 goals in 398 appearances for the Gunners, but only has 49 minutes of Premier League action to show for his efforts this term after slipping down Arsene Wenger’s pecking order.
And Southampton are one side reportedly willing to offer Walcott a World Cup lifeline in the second half of the campaign, but the Saints should forget about a move for the forward, and instead focus all their efforts on luring £18 million-rated Daniel Sturridge (as per Transfermarkt) to St Mary’s.
Ultimately, although landing Walcott may get some of the fans back onside after a tricky start to the campaign, Sturridge is exactly the sort of prolific goal-scorer they need to move up the Premier League table.
Remarkably, the 28-year-old’s Liverpool record still stacks up despite a testing time under Jurgen Klopp since his appointment back in 2015, with the forward bagging 64 goals in just 133 appearances for the Reds, a goal every 133 minutes (Walcott averages a goal every 217 minutes).
And while Walcott has infinitely more assists than Sturridge (78 in 398 games to Sturridge’s 24 in 133), it’s clear that scoring goals is the issue for Southampton, not creating chances, as according to Squawka, the Saints have created 210 chances this season – only the top six have created more.
And there’s no coincidence that when Charlie Austin has been on the pitch, Pellegrino’s men have invariably scored more. But he looks set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring tear, and with no other Saints player having bagged more than three league goals this term, things aren’t looking good if they cannot land a goal-scorer.
And that is why they simply have to land Sturridge. Simply, he’s much more of a goal-scorer than Walcott.
It appears that all Southampton are missing is someone who can regularly put the ball in the back of the net, what with Austin’s injury record a clear cause for concern and ultimately restricting him over the course of the season. Sturridge would bring that ahead of Walcott.
And while it may cost more to land the Liverpool man, it’s a move Pellegrino simply has to make if he is keep his job, and indeed keep Southampton in the Premier League.
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