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Saints may have to spend
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.