Saints At Tottenham Hotspur The Verdict Thursday, 6th Dec 2018 12:46
From a statistical point of view this was a very evenly matched game, in some respects there was some evidence of that but the reality was a case of deja vu.
The statistics said Saints had 48% of the play, had 18 shots compared to Spurs 13, 5 on target compared to Spurs 8 and we hit the woodwork 3 times, add to that that the home goalkeeper Lloris was man of the match and if you were asked to guess the score from those stats without knowing the two teams involved you might suggest a draw would have been the most likely result.
But it was 3-1 to the home side and unsurprisingly the reason why it was yet another defeat and indeed a case of 8 goals conceded in the last three Premier League games was down to our inability to mark players in and around the six yard box.
The fact is all of those 8 goals have been scored when a player has been poorly marked from within 10 yards of the goal mostly nearer, Wesley Hoedt has been a scapegoat but he hasn't played for the last two games so at least five of the goals can't be down to him.
Kelvin Davis's team selection seemed strange, injury and suspension disrupted it, but surely Vestergaard deserved a start in front of either Yoshida or Stephens and why no Valery who was a bright spot in the draw with United ?
Saints faced an uphill struggle from the 9th minute, they got caught napping by a short corner and when the cross came in both Yoshida and Stephens stood and watched Harry Kane score what will be his easiest goal of the season.
It was similar situation just after half time when Lucas Moura was left staring at 3 Saints defenders marking no one and had time to pick his spot from close range and minutes later Saints were dead and buried as a Targett clearance was blocked and the rebound fell kindly, but we should still have reacted quicker both in trying to block the cross and also in picking up Son who slotted home unmarked.
This poor marking is destroying us, two years ago a failure to replace Jose Fonte meant that when we lost Van Dijk through injury we had to soldier on for the rest of the season with last night's central defensive pairing, poor marking at Wembley back then cost us the League Cup Final and two years later nothing has changed and it should have done and has to now.
This must be soul destroying for a midfield who worked hard all evening and never gave up the ghost meaning that we didn't concede five as we did a year ago at the same venue, perhaps Spurs did take their foot off the gas, but you can only play what is in front of you and our midfield ran their socks off and if the score had been one or even two nil then it could have been different, Nathan Redmond hit the bar with a great run and dipping shot, Lloris had to make three good saves in as many minutes and even at 1-0 in the first half and under the cosh we hit the post and had our moments.
In the midfield Steven Davis added some leadership, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg battled tirelessly as did Ward Prowse who saw Lloris make a wonder save from a close range shot and Nathan Redmond was at the heart of everything we did and ran at players took them on and created chances, but I'm sure some will not give him the credit he deserves.
But for the third game in a row we didn't get much out of a game we really should have got more from and as I say it must be soul destroying to see poor marking constantly cost us goals, it is soul destroying for me having to watch it that is for sure.
What this game showed is that the issue if far more than Wesley Hoedt, this has been going on for two years now, it was happening before he arrived and it is now happening with him sat on the bench watching.
The answer is simple in January we need to sign a leader at the back, someone who knows how to marshall a defence, knows how to read a game and is not stood watching yet another opposition player have a simple tap in.
This game was the end of an era on Saturday another one begins, we have to move forward now we need to start getting the best out of what we have and those that cant get better need to be moved on.
OK Hoedt hasn't played the last two and we still concede so not all our goals are down to him. However that merely suggests that none of the CB's are capable of defending properly. He's no worse than the rest, but they are all proving to be crap.
You would have to say the evidence suggests that the coaching at the club over the last two years has been very poor so it is disappointing that the first team coach Kelvin Davis is not being replaced along with the manager. Davis was promoted from his role in hospitality to the lofty position of first team coach to a Premier League team, without any previous experience at any level, on the strength of the fact he'd just passed a coaching course. Surely, this is not the way a professional top flight club should operate? If the club wants to look after Davis, they could either return him to his role as a club ambassador or let him learn the ropes coaching in the academy.
A lesson in bad management! Pick a backline of serial blunderers then add to that several midfielders who can't score. Then loosing heavily, take off a striker. Then near the end put on a defensive midfielder. I wouldn't normally criticize a stand-in employee but I think he wants a career in management!
Someone should write a book on this seasons bad luck stories.
Last evening we gifted Spurs 3 goals and then proceeded to outplay them in the last half hour. We hit the post 2 (or was it) 3 times and met Hugo Lloris on one of his superb days - even if he didn't know too much about how he saved some of our shots.
as for our poor defensive work, .for goodness sake ditch this "zonal marking system " ...How can anyone leave Harry Kane unmarked inside the penalty area and let him waltz up unchalleneged and tap in a near post centre?.....pure amatuer-ish defending.
We played well - without actually scoring (in normal time). Everyone who played -including the subs. had a chance to show the new manager what they can do ...but at the end of the day... . it was back to S.N.A.F.U.
This verdict is spot-on. Although we have problems scoring (a not insignificant issue of course) it is the dreadful lack of quality at the back that is throwing away point after point. SonicBoom is totally right - to refer to the old cliche chopping and changing our CBs brings deckchairs and Titanic to mind. Is Yoshi better than Hoedt is a pointless question. All five of them are weak and not good enough at this level. They are also dragging the likes of Targett, Cedric and Bertrand down with them.
It is the new man's first day today. He has brought some long overdue optimism, difficult enough by itself, now he has to sort out our defence - a mighty task indeed.
" two years ago a failure to replace Jose Fonte meant that when we lost Van Dijk through injury we had to soldier on for the rest of the season with last night's central defensive pairing" ...this is the crux of the problem. Saints failure to solve the CB partnership means there is no confidence or belief in the rest of the team...we know we will concede By the way - that first goal by Kane is just so embarrassing - there's no excuse, these guys are professional footballers!!
Jose Fonte is now the captain at Lille and has led them to 2nd place in the French League. It's a pity Les Reed fell out with him, the same as he did with most of the good players and managers we had at the club, as I think Fonte would have happily stayed here if he had been shown a little respect by Reed and paid anywhere nears as much as Fraser Forster is, for example. I'd rather see Fonte coaching our defence than Kelvin Davis.
I am pretty sure that our back line is not as poor as everyone makes them out to be, they just don't know how to react in various situations because they simply have not been taught how to. Where you position yourself for a dead ball situation for example can be taught. OK if after a month or so and the usual suspects are continuing to make a balls-up of it, then I agree, their oft accused uselessness is confirmed and it's nighty-night. If on the other hand Ralph gets them working hard, and judging by his irst press conference life is definitely going to change and how, and they start to understand what they have to do to keep the goals out, then I hope we will all be saying well done Yoshi, Hoedt, Targett, Stephens, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, you aren't so bad after all....
I don’t think Vestergaard should’ve started, he was at fault for both goals against Manchester United. I agree with everyone that none of our central defence are good enough. I feel a number of them could be, but we just need one leader at the back to encourage the players to attack and clear the ball when it’s in our six yard box.
My main issue with this game was the poor communication around the ‘no bags’ rule. Having to walk half a mile to pay £10 to put a bag in a makeshift tent put a really sour note on the evening.
Again the defence is poor. None of the centre backs is playing well. Hoedt gets a hard time whilst Yoshi less so. Neither is playing well. As suggested above some decent coaching may bring out the best in them and give them some confidence.
The reason we let in goals is because we make mistakes in bad positions on the pitch and not because we have poor central defenders. All 3 of Spurs goals came from our mistakes. For the first goal we caught napping at a short corner; the second was the result of a poor clearance from a corner and the last came about because we didn't adopt a safety first policy when clearing from the left back position (deja vu the Fulham game). It's very difficult for the central defenders to mark their man in those circumstances. The problems as I see it are lack of concentration and taking risks in teh wrong areas of the pitch. Good coaching should be able to address both.
I agree with most of the comments. My main issue though is regardless of whether you have a decent defence or not you still have to score in order to win games.
That for me should be the first priority. If you look at our goals conceded position last season we had the 14th best defence and were nearly relegated. West Brom and Swansea actually conceded fewer goals finishing 13th and 14th for goals conceded but were still relegated.
With the exception of Stoke, all the teams that conceded more goals than us didn't get relegated. The question is: why did they finish ahead of us?
Simply put, all of those teams (with the exception of Burnley, Brighton and Huddersfield) scored more goals. It should be noted Brighton and Huddersfield were nearly relegated too both only having a couple more points. In fact, Leicester (who scored the most goals outside of the Top 6) scored 19 more goals than us. While Everton scored 7 more.
Of course, I'm not trying to undermine the importance of defence but fundamentally we need to score more goals to avoid relegation. Having a decent attack is fundamental to survival.
Defence becomes more significant when you want to cement a higher league position--assuming you're able to score goals in the first place. For example, this time last year we had scored 15 goals and conceded 18 lying 11th. Burnley, on the other hand, had scored 14 goals and conceded 12 and were 7th. Ironically Everton and Leicester had already conceded 28 and 20 goals but, on the flip side, both teams had scored 4 to 5 more goals. To put into context Burnley had the 6th best defence in the league last season.
When we look at Burnley this season they have scored the exact same amount of goals but have conceded over 30 goals and lie in the bottom 3. Currently, they have the 19th worse defence in the league. It’s difficult to explain Burnley’s dip defensively but clearly teams have worked them out their defence and are not too concerned about their goal threat. Nonetheless Burnley’s defence isn’t too different compared to the rest of the league outside the current top 6 as the number of goals ranges to 2-3 more.
This goes to show that if your defence is performing similar to everyone else outside the top 6 then you have to compensate with a better attack otherwise you'll get embroiled in a relegation fight.
Looking at Everton and Leicester for this season. We can see that Everton have scored 21 goals (2 more than last season) and conceded 17 goals (11 less than last season) currently lying 6th. Leicester, on the other hand, have the same goal tally as Everton but have conceded 1 more than Everton. Nonetheless they are 9th but only point behind. Other factors involved Man Utd's poor scoring record and Bournemouth having an exceptional start.
For us currently we have scored 13 goals (17th lowest in the league) and conceded 29 goals (also 17th in the league). We clearly have two options:
1) Sticking with our current attack and drastically improving our defence by delving into the Jan transfer market while improving training methods.
2) Investing in better attackers (i.e. a new winger to support Redmond, another decent striker to support Ing) and improve the coaching methods with our existing defence.
I’d go with option 2) because we’ve already spent considerable money on Hoedt, Vestergaard and Bednerak. All of them (including Stephens & Yoshida) need to be managed better by the coaching staff and have more confidence.
Attackwise we haven’t truly replaced Mane and Pelle. Austin can do a job off the bench but is too injury-prone. Redmond has improved but needs more support with another a pacy winger. Tadic still needs to be replaced (I’d recall Boufal).
Once those replacements have been addressed I suspect we’d improve our goals scored position and push for a mid-table finish providing that our defence benchmarks with the rest of the league’s defences (outside of relegation form).
Nonetheless, an overhaul of the squad is definitely needed next summer!