By Tom Crocker

Graeme Le Saux has highlighted creativity as the key to former club Saints enjoying a successful return to the Premier League.

Le Saux, pictured, part of the Saints team relegated from the top flight in 2005, insists midfield flair akin to last season’s surprise package Swansea is a must if Nigel Adkins’ men are to avoid the drop.

He said: “For a team like Southampton they need to have a bit more creativity through the middle, like a Mata-type player as we have seen with Swansea.

“They (Swansea) have good technical players in the centre of midfield and they can be the link and open up defences.”

The fixture computer has been unkind to Saints, with matches against both Manchester clubs as well as Arsenal inside the first four games of 2012/13.

Le Saux is adamant that Saints do not just sit back and defend against the league’s leading lights.

He said: “Finding that creativity just takes the pressure off the defence and causes problems to your opponents.

“If you try and defend against Premier League teams you eventually concede because they just wear you down.

“You need to be able to take the game to them as well.”

Norwich City are another side who caused a stir in the top flight last term after being promoted, and Le Saux feels everything is in place for Saints to follow a similar path.

“Nigel Adkins has done a really good job and they are built on a good foundation,” he explained.

“They are going to need to strengthen their squad a bit but any team being promoted would have to.

“If they can emulate Norwich and Swansea particularly, then they could be a decent Premier League team.”

Many people have criticised the tactics of managers such as Ian Holloway and Roberto Martinez in the past, with their insistence on providing fans with attractive football even if it ultimately sees them lose matches.

However, Le Saux agrees that it is possible to continue with your footballing principles even if some are calling for a less eye-catching but potentially more points-scoring style of play.

“Any team that gets promoted through playing good, technical football and rises above the more direct football that can be associated with the Championship are already halfway to being prepared for the Premier League,” he outlined.

“The Premier League is so competitive, so aggressive, so physical, that you need more than that physical side of your game to win matches.

“You need to have that craft, skill and technique.”

Graeme Le Saux was speaking to celebrate the first-ever draw of the new Capital One Cup. Capital One are the new title sponsors of the League Cup. Visit for more details.