Monday 15 July 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, continuing with Southampton's home ground, St Mary's Stadium.
Year built: 2001
First League match: Southampton 0-2 Chelsea, 27 August 2001
Southampton moved in to the state-of-the-art St Mary’s Stadium in 2001 after a fairytale finish at their previous home, the Dell, when club legend Matthew Le Tissier fired home a late winner against Arsenal as they signed off at the ground with a 3-2 victory.
After playing on the banks of the Itchen in their first 13 years of existence, Saints moved to the Dell in 1898 and stayed there for 103 years. It was renowned for being a tight, compact ground that gave the fans the opportunity to be very close to the players. They moved out of the 15,000-seater stadium to a ground with over twice the capacity. The move was in keeping with the club’s tradition as Southampton were originally founded by members of the St Mary's Church Young Men’s association. St Mary’s is located right by the city’s well-known seaport for luxury cruises.
Their current ground is one of five stadiums with a four-star categorisation from European football’s governing body UEFA. This means it fulfils the criteria required to host a UEFA Europa League final, although no venue with a capacity of less than 40,000 has hosted such a final yet.
Under the management of Gordon Strachan, Saints enjoyed a strong start to life at St Mary’s, finishing in the top half of the Premier League table in consecutive seasons and reaching the FA Cup Final in 2003. Two years later, Saints’ 27-year spell in the top flight came to an end with relegation.
After dropping down to League One and suffering from administration in 2009, Saints then enjoyed back-to-back promotions to remarkably earn a return to the Premier League just three years later. They also registered a club record of 19 consecutive league wins at home during that period. Top-flight safety followed and they are now going in to their second consecutive season at this level.
23 Nov 2002: Southampton 3-2 Arsenal
Two goals from in-form striker James Beattie gave Southampton a 3-2 victory over Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal. In one of the highlights of a memorable campaign for Saints, which saw them finish eighth in the table and reach the FA Cup Final, Gordon Strachan’s side came out on top in a five-goal thriller at St Mary’s Stadium.
After Dennis Bergkamp put the visitors in front with an exquisite 18-yard half volley, England forward Beattie levelled proceedings with a powerful free-kick. Then Beattie scored his seventh goal in eight matches with a strike from the penalty spot after Sol Campbell was sent off for a professional foul on Ecuadorian forward Agustin Delgado. Delgado, on his first start for Southampton, gave them a 3-1 lead with a header from close range. Goalkeeper Antti Niemi denied Patrick Vieira a goal back with a stunning triple save and, despite a late consolation for Robert Pires, they secured the three points.
21 Dec 2003: Southampton 3-0 Portsmouth
Southampton came out on top in the first-ever South Coast derby in the Barclays Premier League, as they defeated local neighbours Portsmouth 3-0. In a hard-fought clash between the two seaside clubs, Jason Dodd gave the hosts the lead directly from a corner kick, with the Pompey defender unable to clear his spectacular goalbound strike on 34 minutes.
Marian Pahars, whose season had been blighted by injury problems, curled in a second goal from outside the box after an excellent solo run. James Beattie scored a third in added time after good work from Kevin Phillips as Saints earned the bragging rights. The result saw Gordon Strachan’s side move up to fourth in the Premier League table after a fine start to the campaign.
9 Feb 2013: Southampton 3-1 Manchester City
Mauricio Pochettino earned his first win as Southampton manager in spectacular style as his side won 3-1 against defending Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City at St Mary’s Stadium. Saints got off to a flying start and opened the scoring on seven minutes, with Jason Puncheon finding the net after Jay Rodriguez’s initial strike was parried by Joe Hart. Fifteen minutes later the hosts doubled their advantage, with Steven Davis pouncing after Hart spilled Rickie Lambert’s strike.
Edin Dzeko capped a swift counterattack to pull a goal back for the visitors but an unfortunate Gareth Barry own goal restored Southampton’s two-goal cushion and they saw out an impressive victory. The result boosted the newly promoted side’s survival chances while denting the title ambitions of Man City.
“Everything I have been told about the fans is true. They are very passionate, they are with the team and they love this club so I want to thank them for their kindness and congratulate them for being here tonight and spurring us on.”
Mauricio Pochettino, speaking after his first match in charge of Southampton ended in an entertaining goalless draw with Everton.
For a 3D tour of the St Mary's Stadium and a video profiling Southampton and their home ground, click here >>