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Southampton 1 v 4 Chelsea
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 6th October 2019 Kick-off 14:00
Saints V Chelsea The Verdict
Monday, 7th Oct 2019 08:53

Sadly I am going to say the same old things about the same old problems that once again have ended up with defeat.

Saints started this game brightly with Nathan Redmond hitting a dipping shot only inches over the bar with barely a minute gone, but from there it went all downhill and once again we were the architects of our own downfall with a defence that has no organisation or leadership and gifts chances to the opposition that a team like Chelsea won't turn down.

Up to the opening goal we looked fine, but then came the first gift, a through ball put Abraham through and with Yoshida never likely to get a challenge in out came Gunn who himself was never going to get their first either, Yoshida made a valiant effort to keep the Chelsea man's lob out but it was a good foot over the line as TV replays showed.

Then it was two, a signature piece of Saints defending, plenty of men around but no one knowing who they should be marking and we were carved open again with a fine finish leaving Gunn no chance.

A brief respite when a great run from Valery saw Danny Ings stab the ball home, but the two goal cushion was restored when again our defence stood off and let Chelsea shoot from range, the shot would have been saved by Gunn but took a deflection and sent the ball in completely the opposite direction, leaving the keeper no chance.

Danny Ings almost cut the lead again, he beat the keeper but it was cleared off the line with a sliding tackle, you had to ask then would our defenders have had the reading of the game to do that.

The second half was a lot better in that Saints competed, but they huffed and puffed in vain and with the damage done although a goal could have brought us back in it, we rarely looked like getting it.

Ironically the 4th Chelsea goal in the last minute highlighted the lack of leadership we have one the pitch, a minute earlier Valery had pulled a hamstring, he signalled to the bench, in fairness he should have gone down, but he clearly signalled he was injured, no one responded, not even his team mates and with the game continuing he had no choice but to keep going, Chelsea seemed to see he was crocked and targeted that side and carved us open to gift Batshuayi an easy finish.

The problem for Ralph Hasenhuttl is he is picking the same players in defence who are bringing the same results, he has tried every option but so far all have failed him, not once but constantly.

The only option he hasn't tried is the very man he signed to play in that central defensive position Kevin Danso, the Austrian player must wonder why his countryman signed him he has played him only three times, all of those games out of position as a wideman.

That is not his game, he is big strong and has pace, surely this game was the game that was needed in the centre of our defence, yet we didn't try him, even when we were being torn apart at the back and 3-1 down we didn't make a change and instead took the attacking option that we could outscore Chelsea to get back into the game.

I have been banging on about this for nearly three years now, there is no excuse why we have not signed the leader that we desperately need, Danso would only be plugging a gap or two, he is too young and inexperienced to be that organiser and leader that we have lacked since Jose Fonte decided he was Billy Big Boots and threw his toys out of the pram.

This season will be one where we win some games as we did at Sheffield United because we get lucky, the question is will we get lucky more times than we get punished as we did on Sunday against Chelsea.

I'm sorry if you feel that you feel that you are reading this yet again, I'm hacked off at writing it time and time again, so much so that people think I have something against certain players, that is far from the truth, but the real truth is that those players are not good enough, they try hard, but ultimately they are not good enough and are part of the problem not part of the solution.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is a good manager, but good managers make mistakes and have bad periods, now he has to get us through this and to do that he has to do something different with our central defence, he has enough in other areas, it is just this one problem that really should have been sorted in the summer, that was not Ralph's fault, but Danso sitting on the bench was and he has to find out if Danso himself is part of the problem or is indeed at least part of the solution.

Good teams are built on good central defenders, if you don't concede easily you put pressure on the opposition, but if you leak goals then you put pressure on your own team.

The good news is we are still not in the bottom three and in our opening 8 games we have played four of the Big Six as well as Burnley and Bournemouth who are both in the top 10.

We now have a couple of weeks to regroup and get people fit and firing on all cylinders, then we have to try and get it right at the back, the next two games are crucial we have to get something from them, otherwise it could be a long winter again.

Things are not a crisis yet, we know what the issues are and what we can do to rectify them, we have options including the January transfer window, we have to get there first though in a good position so we can build going forward and not fire fight as we have done the last couple of years.

Photo: Action Images

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Consigliere added 09:16 - Oct 7
The fact is that we were playing a much better team. The lady sitting beside me summed it up - she said that it was as if they had an extra man on the field. The pace of their attack, the organisation of their mid-field and the confident organisation of their defence was in a different class. Willan in particular was outstanding, easily able to shake off three of our defenders with sheer pace and skill.

So what do we need to change? Well we can't just go out and buy a squad of better players and truth be told, many of them would flourish in one of the top 6 teams. It comes down to better organisation, understanding and communication between the players we do have. I lost count of the number of times we lost possession in unforced circumstances and the corner kick in the first half that no-one knew how to respond to just about summed up the performance of the team. Lets be honest, we basically had our best team on the pitch yesterday and it was as if they had never played together before!

I don't know whether its because they are being asked to do things they don't understand, that the manager tinkers with the formation in training or they have lost confidence in one another but there is a problem and it needs to be addressed quickly because we are fast sliding into the relegation zone.

Ripleys_revenge added 09:19 - Oct 7
Totally agree with this. I now see this Saints team as back to the 90s era teams of having a pretty appalling collection of players (MLT excepted of course!) somehow scraping over the line in epic relegation dogfights.

Our defending is just so poor, there is nothing else that needs to be said about it. Yesterday was the most predictable pattern in that we start with a bit of wind in our sails, then concede a stupid goal (always defender or goalkeeper individual error) from their first attack and from there everything goes flat. Defeat was absolutely inevitable yesterday as soon as we conceded.

I think we can all see that we're no where near a top half team now. It's not even about confidence - even at sky high levels of confidence, these players just wouldn't be able to compete with half decent PL players. Just look at how easily Bournemouth beat us.

Finally yes the Danso thing is just weird. I can only assume him not being played is due to the fact that he looks like a liability in training, but can he really be any worse than what we have already got? It is truly remarkable that Yoshida is now genuinely our best CB. I remember when we signed him the season we came up how far out of his depth he looked. Don't get me wrong, I love him and he seems like one of the rare genuinely decent blokes you find in football but for him to be our best CB after having had so many transfer windows to find sort this issue out is unforgivable.

1970 added 09:21 - Oct 7
To be as blunt as you have in your verdict we have had 3 windows to sort this problem and haven't so I doubt we will buy in this one, looking at the premier league there are teams that have problems but when you concede as many goals as we do you become big relegation candidates, but hey ho at least we beat the skates in there own back yard

DorsetIan added 09:36 - Oct 7
The lady sitting next to Consigliere was right. They had (at least) an extra man - playing 4-3-3 against that midfield gave them that.

Yes, there were goalkeeping and defensive error but for me the most significant thing was a complete inability to get the ball forward effectively because our midfield was always completely under the cosh. And a lack of truly creative player like Boufal for 80 minutes didn't help.

Think Ralph needs to have a reality check over the international break, be realistic about what we are capable of, and pick his fights in terms of which teams to go gung-ho against.

It's all very depressing.

SaintJez added 09:45 - Oct 7
“Yoshida never likely to get a challenge in”. Ha ha. Get a grip of your awful, biased anti-Yoshida reporting. It was a Gunn error plain and simple.

Yet again saints are carrying players. We effectively played 3 slow midfielders against Chelsea’s 5 and were cut open because of it. Long and Redmond are in luxury positions but the former is clearly not up to the task so it’s like playing with 10, or actually worse as you feel obliged to give him the ball at times and he gives it away.

Boufal has been our best player in recent weeks. Why is he not playing and suddenly Long appear? Did we expect him to be super creative from a wide area? Poor tactics. Again.

Sanguin added 09:52 - Oct 7
I don’t think we would’ve got 3 points at Brighton without the sending off. We were lucky to get 3 points against Sheffield. We should’ve got more against Bournemouth and Tottenham.

It’s worrying, but I don’t see an easy answer out of this. Hopefully they’ll be able to work during the international break ahead of a tough fixture away at Wolves.

wibbersda added 09:54 - Oct 7
RH, the "Austrian Klopp"... the "Austrian Flop" more like. Devoid of ideas, weird selections, continually backing poor players (JWP, EH). Once again we are left with Season-long fight hoping that there are 3 worst teams.

saintjf added 10:06 - Oct 7
We seem to be weak everywhere at the moment. Central defence is where we have been weakest for longest. It is interesting to see how much difference Cahill seems to be making at Palace. It is so frustrating that this issue has not been fixed. We did look clueless in every department for much of the game yesterday.

Bridsaint added 10:15 - Oct 7
Only one problem, a completely inept manager. Two wins from the last 13 leaague games means he is clueless.

Jesus_02 added 10:17 - Oct 7
Strangely if we had played that formation in the second half against Spurs I think we may have got something.

If we had played the same formation as we did at spurs we may have lost 2-0

Chelsea are quality and we clearly are not. I always expected this season to be tough. with more outs than ins. If we make it through we might improve next season. At least we are scoring …

Unusually positive for me maybe .. but I say keep the faith

halftimeorange added 10:22 - Oct 7
We all realised we'd be relegation candidates when Bournemouth tore us apart. Most other clubs have strengthened where they were weak and it's palpably true that Saints have not. That may be partly why RH constantly tinkers. He, too, knows that some of our players are Championship class at best. That doesn't explain the omission of Boufal from the starting line-up. He is capable of the similar wizardry displayed by Valery in creating our goal. Valery, by the way, repeated his little run in the second-half, something Redmond appears completely unable to do. To my mind, Valery should play in front of Cedric when fit. Once again, most of Chelsea's threats came down their left and the duo of Valery and Cedric might be a more effective barricade. And JWP - what can one say. He brings nothing to the team. Is Armstrong really that bad that he can't be given a run out in JWP's place? Although it's been said before, Saints need to address the lack of height up front as we win nothing in the air, sign a creative midfielder if Armstrong is no better than JWP and, the same old chestnut, bring in a dominating centre back - otherwise we're going down. In my opinion, yesterday's second half was as drab a performance by Saints as I have ever seen in recent times. The only solace was that my leaving when Chelsea's fourth goal went in meant that I got home thirty minutes earlier than expected.

mikesaint added 10:29 - Oct 7
What has happened to Ralph he seems to have lost the plot since Danny Rohl has left. His team selections and his substitutions are woeful. Why does he keep playing Prowse when he has not played well all season and it was him who gave the ball away that lead to the first goal. Why did he not make changes at half time yesterday? Prowse and Redmond should have both been taken off at half time as they were having bad games. Valery did great for our goal but then when missing for Chelseas second goal that shows why he has not been getting in the team lately. Why was Boufal dropped from the starting line up yesterday when he has been our best player lately?

LesVivian added 10:59 - Oct 7
Game lost in midfield - JWP, and PH have no creativity! Romeo does his job, breaking up what he can, but then then we give the ball away again! Historically, we have never replaced Fonte or VVD, or Tadic! Perhaps a Lallana at his best would create something! Having said this, the forwards lack a cutting edge between them! Ings is nicking goals here and there, but we don't have a natural goalscorer at present.

DPeps added 11:35 - Oct 7
Agree with others on here that the lack of quality in midfield is as deplorable as in the defence. In JWP, PEH and Romeu we have three hardworking players, but too similar and not enough drive forward. I know plenty on here didn't rate Lemina, but in my view he's different quality and is a massive loss - he could move forward with the ball

underweststand added 11:35 - Oct 7
The worst performance I've watched for a long while. Everyone (above) has said the same...Chelsea were maurauding in the middle (and Willian was outstanding) . Abraham's loan-outs have worked wonders for him, whilst we were toothless in midfield...and shot shy up front.

The tactic of playing " keep ball " when you are trailing in a game was ridiculous against 10 man Spurs ...and looked even more stupid on Sunday. Losing 2-1 is just as bad as losing 4-1 when you still have to attack and score goals in order to get level.

I think Ralph's task of developing Academy products has gone astray somewhere. Moving up from U23 to the Prem. is a really big ask, and few can play well for more than 2-3 games and lack confidence and consistancy.

Yoshida's experience may be invaluable this season, and we have almost no creativity in midfield and (with the exception of Bertrand)... the rest struggle in what is the youngest squad in the Prem. and probably the shortest/ lightweight Saints side in living memory.

If you have a winning side, you can stick with it for a while but we need to find the right balance at the back and look for more creativity in midfield. I think we should rest Gunn and give McCarthy a run of games ...and even try Armstrong in the middle.
Boufal is a much improved player but ought to use his skills further up front..

Ralph's Plan B must be... put all the names into a hat and see if that works out better.

davidargyll added 11:42 - Oct 7
Really cannot argue with anything that’s been said. The real sadness was that basically we were beaten by some amazingly good youngsters - Abraham, Mount, Hudson-Adoi - which is supposedly one of our strengths!
We were though carved up by a much better team, let’s face it. As I said last week, if you look at who’s around us in the bottom third, that’s where we have to get points. Wolves Leicester, MCity, Everton, Arsenal, Watford are our next 6 pl games. If we get as many as 6 points out of that lot I will be amazed. 4 possibly but could be no more than one! The relegation dogfight has already started!
And in which regard, one word about RH. Did any of us really know how good a manager he was at Leipzig? Yes we all read the stuff but there is this interesting bit on his Wikipedia page:”...Hasenhüttl asking for his contract to be terminated as he was not comfortable acting as an interim for incoming boss Julian Nagelsmann.” He was after all managing a newly promoted and presumably confident team when he was appointed and they ended up being like Wolves in their first season. But maybe there was rather less there than met the eye?
My point is managing a successful and confident team is relatively easy. You really earn your spurs(!) when you have to get a pile of rubbish like us to play better. Can Ralphy do it? The jury is out....

saintmark1976 added 11:52 - Oct 7
Firstly, well done Nick in writing a sensible match report. I fully expected you to construct an " it will be alright on the night" summary when everyone else can see that yesterday was a complete shambles. As I posted after the Spurs debacle we have a powder puff forward line, a pedestrian midfield, a static defence, a suspect keeper and a manager who gives every indication of being in complete meltdown.

Where do we go from here? Well, at least we can put to bed the rediculous "Ralph hype" and concentrate on avoiding relegation after eight games rather than with eight games to go. The owners won't spend money in January as per their previous track record so the only option is to alter our style of play and to try and become hard to beat. I suggest we start by replacing the serial under achievers Redmond,J W P and Gunn in particular. Frankly,would it be possible for their replacements to be any worse?

Colburn added 12:22 - Oct 7
The starting line up said it all.. No pace or creativity in midfielders who fail to track their opposite men into the box. A forward player who grins and laughs when he messes up the final ball of shot. Our 3 summer signings not in starting line up and our most creative and dangerous player so far this season was benched.. We have a young international who is picked for his country now ahead of Long but doesn't get a chance to start for us and he actually had a good touch. Gunn will be great one day but needs a solid defence in front of him at his age and we clearly don't have that. Danso? Not played once in the position we signed him for. I think Danny Rohl was a big factor in our tactics last season and now he's gone. Have to say, the fans need to raise it at St Mary's, we're not making it a hard place to come..

LordDZLucan added 12:35 - Oct 7
I think you've put a bit of a gloss on it, Nick, as to my eye that performance was the worst at home since the Leicester debacle 2 years ago. And we all know who the main culprit was for that performance...... a certain Mr. van Dijk. So maybe history is repeating itself and we have one or two players not playing for the manager . It only takes one or two to bring a team down. Just ask Spurs!

bstokesaint added 13:11 - Oct 7
Rather disappointingly agree with just about every comment above. I don’t want to get too stuck into Ralph but he looks lost right now. We can’t keep going along at less than a point a game. He needs the team to start playing for him, although playing players in the right position helps, as does playing form players. I’d like to see Armstrong back in for JWP. I’m not sure the former did much wrong before dropping out of favour. I thought he looked half decent and was lively going forward. There really needs to be some more fight. If Ralph was chosen because of his ability to work wonders with average teams he needs to show why. He said he was happy with the window so he can’t complain too much. Personally like others have said we’ve not adequately replaced top players these past few seasons.

NewburySaint added 13:29 - Oct 7
F%$& you Saints! I left home at just after 0930 & returned just after 1930 due to train engineering works, making all that effort to see that.

Gunn is not our best GK (said that before he came in the team), &, oh i can't go on, it's too painful to even think about the others let alone speak about the others....

But Bednarek, Romeu & Ings have been ok to good so far this season.

We are no better off now than under Hughes & Pellegrino-if anything we look even more disorganised now than under them but, on the plus side, we do look more of a threat at the other end of the pitch.

"but then came the 1st gift" that was from JWP by the way Nick because you couldn't seem to recognise his part in the 1st goal but have named others at fault elsewhere in your piece, otherwise a very good assessment.

SanMarco added 13:46 - Oct 7
I would not claim any area of the pitch is a strength for us at the moment but the CB issue is the most serious problem. I always trot out the usual 'why haven't we done something about it' line but I suppose we have brought in several CBs but unlike back in our first years up (Lovren then Toby then Van Dick) none of them have been any good - and Ralph would seem to think that Danso continues that tradition. We are lacking quality because we have bought players who are not good enough. I know that you could say that for other areas of the team but it is CB recruitment that has been the most consistent and long-running disaster. Yoshi has got no better than he ever was but in the last 4 years he has become (arguably) our best CB by simply standing still. I (like many) really like Yoshi but if he is our best CB then we don't belong in the top division.

As for Ralph - he had credit in the bank for his first few months at the club but that has just about run out now. I agree with Nick that he is a good manager but he really does need to start proving it again. Away teams are beating us with ease and not even having to play particularly well to do so. Chelski will not get an easier away win all season. Worrying times...

Saintsforeverj added 14:05 - Oct 7
Spot on summary Nick. I like Yoshida for his effort, loyalty, community work etc.I like the guy. But Nick is right. He is not the answer to our defensive woes - this is clear after conceding 4 yesterday. I also share the frustration of not signing a leader at the back - Watching Cahill on MOTD organise the defence for Crystal Palace when he was a free transfer, sends me to despair. This running of this club for the last few years is pathetic.

helpineedsomebody added 14:10 - Oct 7
1 no investment since 1885
2 the old & new owners have rinced the club one with a huge bank balence
the second one using all the EPL & season ticket money for the last 2 seasons to morgage the club /training ground, so there dedt free but THE CLUB IS SKINT
4 yet again had 8 players on the 35 yard line playing again back wards & sideways
5 best forward vallery
6 little legs 2nd best forward
9 the most important person in the club is a chairmen for goodness sake bring back MR N CORTESE FOR ALL HIS FAULTS HE DOES GET RESULTS

pintsizedsaint added 14:22 - Oct 7
I see there has been a lot already said on this thread: all valid and all very astute.

I fear RH is lost at the moment, panicking a little bit. RH spoke about lack of confidence in the after match presser, but I think that should also be attributed to him too. To be fair to him, he’s not the first Saints manager to do so in the last 3-4 years.

I am at loss as to why Danso is not being played in the CB role he was clearly brought in to fill, and can only put it down to RH wanting to protect him (and not see his confidence knocked like all the other young CB’s we have brought in – Hoedt and Stephens immediately spring to mind).

Yet defensively we are lacking in leadership and confidence. I do believe we have raw talent there, but it can only be nurtured and brought out by having confident experienced leaders next to you. Yoshida is currently the only defender who can tick those boxes, but he’s not Fonte or VVD, Lovren or Alderwiereld. He’s not a solid rock that you can rely on.

I strongly suspect we tried to look for an experienced CB in the summer but couldn’t land one without having to pay silly money in wages or be stung by having a disinterested journeyman come into the frame. Yet ‘Plan B’ is Danso, and it feels like we’ve gone straight to ‘Plan C’, which looks alarmingly familiar to the plans MP2 and Hughes had.

Everybody knows you cannot become a solid team without a solid defence. You simply cannot adopt a ‘score one more than then’ tactic if your defence is constantly letting 2-3-4 goals per game. I really feel for the strikers and midfielders as it is often the case now that we are playing catch up from early periods in the game, which puts even more pressure on them to deliver.

Midfield is more solid but just lacks creativity – no spark. Romeu is doing well but his job is the ‘Wanyama’ disrupt play option. He can’t pick a killer pass or score a blinder from 25 yards. Hoijberg is similar, but with a bit more purpose. We need to stop playing with both and get some creativity in there.

And I agree with the comment about where are all the academy players, but first we need to sort out the back four. Danso and Yoshida must now be the first choice.

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