|Chelsea 0 v 0 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 2nd January 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Saints V Chelsea The Preview
Wednesday, 2nd Jan 2019 11:54
Can Saints pull off a shock at Stamford Bridge this evening, the odds don't look good on it, but stranger things have happened.
Saints have lost 7 straight games to Chelsea including the FA Cup Semi Final since beating them 3-1 in this fixture back in October 2015 under Ronald Koeman, in that time we have always conceded at least 2 goals apart from a 1-0 defeat last season and in total 17 have hit the back of our net, not a good average.
That is telling us what has gone wrong in the past and also what is going wrong now, Ralph Hasenhuttl has brought a lot to this club already, but sadly he has not a lot to work with at the back with the same player still making the same mistakes and somewhere along the line that has to change.
Two years ago after we lost Fonte to petulance and Van Dijk to injury I said that not signing a replacement for Fonte would cost us dearly and it did in the League Cup Final at Wembley, then Ibrahimovic headed an 87th minute winner unmarked from close range and that seems to have set the standards, we keep on seeing similar goals conceded week in week out.
Ralph cant get in a new defender before this evening so perhaps it is time to play the one central defender yet to get a game under him, Wesley Hoedt, some will be up in arms about this, but look at some facts, we have only kept 4 clean sheets in the Premier League this term and Hoedt is the one defender who played in all of them.
In two of them, the victory at Crystal Palace and draw at Bournemouth he was an of the match, this should tell you something, yes he may make errors as do his rivals for a spot, but he is capable of putting it in, he does have the quality, perhaps he just needs the right partner.
So I would play him tonight, after all what have we got to lose, in Hasenhuttl's 5 games in charge we have conceded 9 goals, virtually every one of them should have been defended better by our defence, so the stats say that we are no better without Hoedt, but we have played better with him.
The poor marking is starting to undo the good work that the Austrian manager has done in the other areas of the team, Hojbjerg's sending off was pure frustration and that stems from the fact that some great work further up the pitch is being ruined by lapses in concentration and error at the back, both visible in mistakes and not so in leadership and organisation, West Ham for instance should never have got 4 on 2 for their winner when we were attacking.
Cut out the errors at the back and we start to win more games, that perhaps means a new central defender being brought in, but the woes of the last two years have to be dealt with otherwise we will just go on repeating the same things and struggle.
So for me I would play Hoedt and Bednarek, possibly with Yoshida as a third central defender given that Matt Targett looks doubtful and we have no obvious left back for a back four.
Play three at the back with a couple of wingbacks, a strong central midfield and work hard at getting behind the ball, keeping it and going on the break, this worked against Manchester City where we worked hard but threw it all away with poor defending, perhaps we will get lucky tonight at the crucial moments.
Apart from guesswork as to who will play at the back, I just have a sneaking suspicion that Angus Gunn might make his Premier League debut.
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