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  • "An analysis of the statistics would seem to support the thrust of the suggestions on here for striking and defensive additions - because, superficially at least, the figures indicate that we need to score more goals and concede fewer.

    However, looking even more closely and examining possible comparative scenarios, the numbers show that the key isn't necessarily scoring more AND conceding fewer, but could be just scoring a lot more and conceding the same or scoring the same and conceding a lot fewer.

    Further complexity arises if we add a more uneven distribution of the goals. For example, at the extreme, if we had lost our first match 35-nil and then fairly evenly distributed our 38 goals scored across the other 27 games, we would now be comfortably at the top of the league. Indeed we could be in the same position even if we only scored 27 goals in total this season so far instead of the 38 we have scored.

    I'm not saying that the suggestions for team strengthening on here stem from shallow or mathematically illiterate thinking (tempted though I am), but simply pointing out that the numbers present a wide variety of possibilities.

    Remarkably, the same numerical situation arises right across the league from top to bottom. Alter the distribution pattern of the actual goals scored and conceded (whilst making no change at all to the totals) and Fulham could now be where Chelsea are and vice versa.

    This would indicate that football managers and players are simply not very good at managing numbers and I have told MoPo (via Mrs Wilson) that he should add a reasonably qualified mathematician to his back-up team."
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Saints may have to spend

Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

BACK in November, Saints hit the giddy heights of third place in the Premier League.

For a brief moment, fans were able to dream.

Could this really be the season when Saints pieced together a sustained bid for a Champions League place?

Sadly not, as it’s turned out.

The dream has long gone, and the weekend defeat to Liverpool further underlined how much Saints need to improve if they are to one day challenge the country’s very best.

Though still a very impressive ninth – as I have said before, virtually the highest place they can realistically be – the stats tell their own story.

As of today, Saints are closer to the relegation places than they are to the top four.

Fifteen points clear of the drop zone, and 18 points adrift of fourth placed Manchester City - and the latter have two games in hand.

Saints have obviously made some strides forward this season – they are only two points off equalling their 2012/13 points haul and still have ten games left to play.

But last year there was some big talk from the likes of Pochettino and goalkeeper Artur Boruc of challenging for the Champions League.

Saints splashed out over £30m last summer, and have seen an improvement.

They will need to spend even more this summer if they want to make the stellar leap into the top four.

Saints, it might surprise some people to learn, are the seventh highest scorers in the Premier League this season.

They have bagged 38 goals from 28 games, which is actually one less than they had managed at the same stage of last season.

But they need a lot more goals to become a major force.

Chelsea and Arsenal both have 52 goals so far, while Liverpool and Manchester City have a staggering 73 and 69 respectively.

It is intriguing to see the table printed on this page.

It shows each Premier League club’s record against the clubs currently in the top flight’s top ten.

Saints have managed just a solitary victory in 13 games against the clubs they would like to be competing for a European place alongside.

That was the 1-0 win at Liverpool last September.

Only two clubs have scored fewer goals against the top ten this season than Saints.

That single-goal success at Anfield, meanwhile, was one of just two clean sheets in those 13 games.

So does Pochettino also need to further strengthen his back four this summer, in addition to bringing in more potent goal threats?

These are the sort of questions that need to be asked now, as attention is already starting to turn to 2014/15 already.

Saints’ record against teams in the bottom half of the table is good, and if you want to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle then you need to beat the lowly sides.

But Pochettino’s ambitions are considerably higher than staying out of the bottom three.

That is why the table printed with this article could cause alarm.

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