April 19, 2024

We are nearing the end of the Championship, with only 13 league games left for clubs to decide their fate.

Southampton are in a fierce battle for automatic promotion. Leicester City have some breathing room at the top of the Championship table, but Leeds United, Ipswich Town, and the Saints are all vying for second place.

Southampton will go away to all three of their promotion rivals before the end of the season, with Russell Martin’s side’s meeting against Leeds at Elland Road on the penultimate day widely seen as a promotion decider.

With just over a quarter of the season left, here’s how we rank every player now at the club out of ten who has started five or more league games this season.

How do Southampton players rank this season so far?

Gavin Bazunu – 7

Martin places high expectations on his goalkeepers, particularly Gavin Bazunu, who excels in possession. Still prone to blunders, but has maintained eleven clean sheets and, at 22 years old, has enormous potential.

Kyle Walker-Peters – 9.5

Ever-present in the league, he has impressed in a variety of roles. Southampton’s player of the season so far, his two goals and two assists are far from the complete picture for the player Martin described as’really gifted’ in January.

 

Kyle Walker-Peters gives Southampton victory over Bristol City | beIN SPORTS

There will be plenty of interest in the summer, but whether Southampton is promoted or not will depend heavily on the rest of the season.

James Bree – 7

When Ryan Manning was suspended for the 2-2 draw with Preston in late October, he calmly waited for his time and seized it, playing as an unconventional left-back. That game marked the beginning of a run of five straight league starts after rarely playing for Southampton since arriving in January.

Better defensively than Manning and has missed time due to injury since December 23rd. His impending return will provide a nice boost.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis – 8

Taylor Harwood-Bellis has been a defensive rock since joining Southampton on loan in the summer, and his calm presence on the ball complements Martin’s preferred style of play. After helping Burnley win the Championship last season, it seems unimaginable that the 22-year-old would not play in the Premier League next season; the only question is whether it will be for Southampton.

If the Saints are promoted, they must buy, but if they do not, the Manchester City man will have plenty of suitors.

Jan Bednarek – 8

This season, Southampton’s ‘Mr. Reliable’ has won over the crowd after alienating many with his comments while on loan at Aston Villa last season. Has built a strong cooperation with Harwood-Bellis and has emerged as a true leader in this campaign.

Jack Stephens – 6.5

Jack Stephens is the club captain, although after missing a significant chunk of the first half of the season, he has failed to replace the aforementioned center defensive duo. Has played as a makeshift full-back, but does not appear to be at ease in the position and is frequently exposed for his lack of pace.

Ryan Manning – 6.5

When Manning joined the club in the summer, it seemed like a natural fit. The left-back had been a key player for Martin at Swansea City, and he was available on a free transfer after scoring five league goals and providing 10 assists.

With that in mind, the 27-year-old’s current record of 0 goals and two assists is somewhat disappointing, but it is his defensive play that has received the most criticism. Manning is good in possession and understands what his boss expects of him, but the Saints have looked lot more solid when he is not in the lineup.

Flynn Downes – 8.5

Flynn Downes has been the metronome in front of the back four this season, and his absence has been felt most acutely in the last three games. This season, the on-loan midfielder has a remarkable 94.14% pass completion rate in the Championship, and everything Southampton does passes through him.

Southampton will be anxious to keep the 25-year-old until the end of the season, but his future is also likely to be determined by Southampton’s promotion chances.

Shea Charles – 7

Shea Charles has performed admirably at times during his first season of senior football, although he may have been hampered by his own adaptability. This season, the Northern Ireland international has played centre-back, right-back, holding midfield, and box-to-box midfield, but he has unable to establish himself in any of those positions.

Charles, who is only 20, will only improve with time, but he must improve on the ball under pressure if he is to succeed in Martin’s team.

Will Smallbone – 7.5

Will Smallbone has four goals and one assist in his debut season as a regular with the club where he graduated from the academy. He thrives from having a lot of the ball and links up well with Walker-Peters and Adam Armstrong from his right central midfield position, and he has even deputised as a holding midfielder on occasion.

Smallbone has had a decent campaign thus far, but he can appear lightweight at times and suffers against more attacking sides.

Stuart Armstrong – 8

Stuart Armstrong, 31, is Southampton’s oldest regular starter, and his experience and composure have been invaluable to the Saints this season. Despite his age, the Scotland international can still produce an amazing burst of speed, and his surges into the final third from midfield are breathtaking.

Has improved during the season and appears to be in the best shape he has in years, following a couple of seasons marred by minor injuries. He should add to his three goals and five assists before the season ends.

Joe Aribo – 7

Another guy who had to wait for his chance but was rewarded when Downes was unable to travel to Watford in early December due to an injury. Joe Aribo, like Bree, grabbed his opportunity and went on to start the following five consecutive championship games.

The Nigerian was missing in January to assist his country reach the African Cup of Nations final, but he has looked sharp since his return, scoring off the bench in Southampton’s last game.

Adam Armstrong – 8

Adam Armstrong is a footballer who has divided the fanbase. He has clearly improved this season and is Southampton’s major goal scorer, with 16 league goals and 11 assists, but his finishing and ability to play as the lone central striker remain concerns.

Armstrong’s best work this season has come from a wide right position, and he has developed a nice rapport with Walker-Peters, who takes up the space left by Armstrong as he drifts into central areas. Concerns remain about the 27-year-old’s capacity to go to the Premier League, but without his goals this season, they would not be in the automatic promotion race.

Sam Edozie – 7.5

Sam Edozie has matured as a player this season, following a disappointing debut season last year. The 21-year-old has six goals and three assists in the league and has appeared much more decisive in the closing third than before.

Edozie’s close control and desire to challenge his defender make him a valuable asset to the Southampton attack, and he is looking forward to becoming an even more significant member of the group.

Ryan Fraser – 7.5

Ryan Fraser has made no secret of his goal to earn a permanent contract with Southampton at the end of the season, and he is taking the correct steps to do so. Fraser, 30, is an experienced manager, but he has welcomed the challenge of resurrecting his career in the Championship and has scored some important goals.

With both Edozie and Kamldeen Sulemana out injured in January, he stepped up and matched Edozie’s six-goal total, while his two assists put him one behind the guy nine years his junior.

Kamaldeen Sulemana – 6

He began the season injured and had some time to get back to full fitness, but he looked promising once there. Is yet to score this season and has three league assists. Given that he is Southampton’s record acquisition, fans have high expectations of Kamaldeen Sulemana, and his uninterested body language does not endear him to them.

From the end of November to the beginning of February, he was once again sidelined by injury. Will need a strong finish to the season to live up to his £22 million transfer fee.

Che Adams – 7

Che Adams’ future has been a source of discussion throughout the season, but now that the January transfer window has closed, the striker can focus on Southampton until the conclusion of the season. The Scotland international has had an uneventful season, with dismal performances frequently destroying his purple patches of form.

Adams should look to significantly improve on his eight league goals before the end of the season, whether he wants to earn a better contract offer from Southampton or entice a Premier League club to gamble on his future.

Sekou Mara – 6.5

Sekou Mara is a player that continuously flatters to deceive while wearing a Southampton shirt. He is a really bright young player with a lot of potential, but just when you think he has turned a corner in terms of consistency, he puts in a performance like the one that saw him pulled off at half-time against Hull City last time out.

At 21, he has time on his side, but many anticipated that a season in the Championship would be the turning point for the former Bordeaux striker. Currently, it appears that Adams will be the man to lead the line in the promotion race.

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