I don't think we have actually given enough credit to our defensive improvement. I certainly haven't. I was so used to moaning about Vestergaard and Stephens. We certainly seem to have turned it around amazingly... Here's the preview for this weekend from the Guardian...
"Though Southampton laid some ghosts to rest in winning 2-1 at the King Power Stadium just over a year ago, it will be a while before they play Leicester without last season’s 0-9 shellacking cropping up. Their improvement since then is as obvious as it is remarkable, but their current defensive solidity is particularly astonishing. The last team to score more than once against Southampton in the league was Manchester United in November. The Saints have conceded just twice in their last five games – most recently in the 16th minute of their home game against Manchester City on 19 December, 344 minutes ago. No team has more than their eight clean sheets this season – one away from their entire tally from last season. Away from home they are surprisingly reliant on set pieces: they have scored six times from open play, and six times from restarts, including a penalty"
So this is the Guardian's take. Interesting point that we press so well but fade and throw away points. Is this something Ralph needs to think about. Maybe his pressing is not sustainable by a team and we need more of a plan B at times...?
"There’s good and bad news for Sheffield United fans before their side’s trip to Southampton this weekend. The bad: Ralph Hassenhüttl’s side are among the best in the Premier League at pinning opponents back and forcing them to surrender possession with their high press, a tactic employed successfully by Leicester when they beat the Blades last weekend. And the good? In the top flight, only West Ham have thrown away more points from winning positions (34) than Southampton (25) since the start of last season – a statistic that suggests Hassenhüttl’s men find his approach extremely draining. United may well find themselves on top in the last half-hour of Sunday’s game at St Mary’s but will have to prevent their opponents from putting the game beyond them in the opening hour
I was gutted yesterday. Those bloody nauseating mancs with their stupid accents, their Pogba, their self righteous snotty attitude and their arrogance. It really sticks in the throat losing yet again in that manner. I honestly thought we were good enough to beat them this time. But...
There were good things. I thought JWP was very good and unless you are biased or just plain stupid then you cannot say he has made himself the best free kick taker in the country right now. Another absolute beauty against a top keeper. Che Adams. The commentators were eulogising over his effort and hold up play. He looks a different player to 12 months ago and I can only see him improving further. Vestergaard - I used to think he was simply a lamp post with boots on. But he's certainly improving and I have to give him credit for that seeing as most of us thought he was a total waste of money. Theo is always going to frustrate in the same way Redmond does, they just aren't finishers, but if they were we couldn't afford them. But he's been great since he arrived back and has given everything. Like Ings it's nice to have that local connection back in the team from a player that loves being here. Walker Peters not wanted at Spurs yet he's come here and is first name on the team sheet. He already looks better all round than Cedric and Valery rarely gets a mention these days. OK he's not perfect but he fits in really well.
And of course the feeling that these days we will give anyone a game. I don't fear that we will get spanked by the big boys. It might happen of course but we do give a decent account of ourselves. So United were celebrating like they won the league? Good! I rather they celebrated beating us, than if they roll into town, kick our arses 5-0 and disappear like it was nothing. We might not make top 4 or even top 7 but we are going to give a lot of teams a very bloody nose this year. There. I feel better now.
Good to see him get on the pitch Saturday, even if we didn't really see enough to make any judgements yet. At least Ralph had the confidence to throw him in. Don't know what that says about Salisu mind.
Never mind Walcott or even Salisu, I'm actually really interested to see this guy. I have a good feeling about him and think this could be a really good move. A player that says his strengths are winning the ball back AND driving forward with it, sounds exactly what we need. Anyone else like him?