Ones to Watch: Southampton

by Ashley Houghton profiles three key men for the Saints.

Rickie Lambert

Southampton striker Rickie Lambert proved to be the lynchpin in the Saints’ return to the Barclays Premier League with 14 goals in 31 matches last season.

Since joining Southampton in 2009, Lambert has made 197 appearances, scoring 104 goals whilst picking up individual honours which include PFA Fans’ League One Player of the Year in 2009-10 and Football League Championship Player of the Year in 2011-12.

Lambert joined the Saints from Bristol Rovers after making over 150 appearances for the Gas between 2006 and 2009.

Lambert has received comparison to Saints legend Matt Le Tissier due to his goal-scoring prowess and the fact he is yet to miss any of his 31 spot-kicks in a Southampton shirt – Le Tissier missed just one of his 48 penalties.

He earned his first England cap earlier this month and scored on his debut as the Three Lions beat Scotland at Wembley.

Victor Wanyama

Kenyan international midfielder Victor Wanyama began his career in Belgium with Beerschot AC and made 50 league appearances before joining Celtic in 2011.

A fans favourite at Celtic Park, Wanyama’s robust play and natural fitness endeared him to the Hoops’ faithful.

After playing 60 league games for the SFPL side, Wanyama joined Southampton ahead of the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League campaign.

His move to St. Mary’s meant the 22-year-old is the first ever East African to play in the Premier League.

Wanyama made his debut in the Saints’ 1-0 win over West Brom last weekend and he will be keen to impress should he make his home debut against the Black Cats on Saturday.

Morgan Schneiderlin

French youth international Morgan Schneiderlin is entering his sixth season as a Southampton player after joining from French side Strasbourg in 2008.

He is just three appearances short of 200 for the Saints; playing in League One, the Championship and the Barclays Premier League in his long affiliation with the Hampshire club.

Schneiderlin impressed during the 2012-13 campaign and was linked with a move to Arsenal after establishing himself as one of the best holding midfield players in the league.

His passing, work-rate and tackling make him the ideal fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s vibrant Saints side.