Saints on the attack.

Last updated : 09 January 2002 By Christian Kelly

A look at the goalscoring charts this season, will unusually see two Southampton players near the top with 21 goals between them. Beattie and Pahars are forming a formidable partnership. So how has this happened ?

Until recently James Beattie has only impressed on a couple of spells with long barren periods in between. Marian Pahars seemed unlikely to recover under Stuart Gray having been shunted back into midfield.
James Beattie has said that Gordon Strachan has asked him to change certain areas of his game, like all good coaches. For Beattie James has been asked not to always make runs but to make the best use of his strength and shielding skills. James said: "We've worked so hard in recent weeks that we must be among the fittest players in the league.

"But the gaffer has also told me that sometimes it's just as important to stand still as run around.

"He explained it can confuse defenders if I'm not making the runs they were expecting."

Beattie has the potential to make an excellent target man and has begun to show consistency in all areas of his game. Strachan has certainly improved fitness levels and bBeattie agrees saying: "I feel better for being much fitter. I feel as if I could run all day and that is because the whole team has been working hard in training."

Having Marian Pahars as the pacey component of the partnership doesn't hurt either.

Pahars skills are highly thought of by a number of managers. Having started out as a midfielder, he made an impact immediately for Saints up front scoring 3 goals in 6 games at the end of the 98/99 season. Forty more goals have followed although Marian has suffered form having different partners and having a spell back in midfield under Stuart Gray. Having been called the Latvian Michael Owen for many years, Marians rightly thinks he can stand out for himself. Marian said: "I'm sick of being compared to Michael Owen. I've had it for three years and I'm tired of the comparison.

"Of course I rate him, who wouldn't? He is the best striker in Europe at the moment."

The tow may not face each other at St. Mary's on the 9th January as Owen may fall victim to his ligament injury.

Now back in his preferred position is happy to finally have a regular partner in James Beattie. Marian said: "James (Beattie) is a clever player and our part-nership is far more settled.

"I don't think we've played enough together in the past but now we know each other's game a bit better.

"I wouldn't say either of us is any better individually, it's just that we're starting to play off each other more.

"The second half against Chelsea was very special and probably the best 45 minutes that we've played together.

"I really enjoy playing with James and hope we continue to prosper."

"Pahars has many of the same qualities of pace, skill and finishing power of Owen, while Beattie is in fantastic form. He's big, strong and determined to make his mark", said Saints boss Gordon Strachan.

"It seems like we are up against some of the best players in the world every week",he continued " at the moment and we are really enjoying the challenge."

Beattie, who has already netted 10 goals this season, said:

Of course Beattie and Pahars can't become complacent as Saints now have a number of alternatives waiting in the wings.

New Saints signing Brett Ormerod will be looking to continue the prolific form he showed at Blackpool. Jason Dodd certainly rates him saying: "Brett Ormerod's desperate to get in but the two up front are playing so well at the moment."

"But Brett hasn't moped around, he's worked extra hard in training and that has given us real competition in attack.

"Watching Beattie and Pahars from the back at Chelsea was a great sight.

"They are by no means the finished articles but they're getting better and better. I've really noticed the improvement over the last six to eight games.

"Beats is so dominant in the air and Marian is as dangerous as ever with the ball at his feet.

"We're not a one footed attacking force and that's great from the back four's point of view.

The pair of them have really come on in the last six to eight games and it's been great to see from my point of view.

"Their movement has given us extra options in defence and that can only be good.

"They were both at their best in the second half against Chelsea and if they continue that we've got to fancy our chances."

Augustin Delgado has returned form injury and will be looking to show his pedigree before appearing for Ecuador in this year's World Cup. Delgado thinks that he still needs to show his worth if he is to be selected for the finals, so he is raring to go for Southampton. Delgado said: "I need first team football if I'm going to play in the World Cup."

"It's important that I play games because this is a very big summer for Ecuador. It's our first World Cup and I need to be playing first team football to make sure I'm ready for it."

"Marian Pahars and James Beattie are playing very well, but I have to make sure I am ready to come in for either.

"They are both very good players, but I could see myself doing well alongside either of them."

Delgado has just made his return form injury for the reserves and he said: "It was very cold to start with, but once the game started I felt good. It didn't take too long to warm up and the knee and the calf felt very comfortable, I was very happy to play the full game.

"It will take another two weeks before I am fully fit so I need a few more games to get back to my best."

"I have adapted well so far. I'm a quiet person and haven't made too many friends, but that will come as I learn the language."