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Saints Under Fire Players Come Good At Chelsea
Friday, 27th Dec 2019 09:25

Over the last few months you won't have found many in our squad who don't have a detractor or two on social media, but at Stamford Bridge they all put in their best performances of the season.

Since his return in goal Alex McCarthy has been steady but not completely convincing, errors in the final minutes at both Manchester City and Newcastle cost us dearly, but on Boxing Day he put in a steady performance and in the main dominated his penalty area.

Ryan Bertrand and Cedric have both had a lot of critics, especially Cedric, but yesterday they looked more like the players of old, solid defending and surging forward.

Jack Stephens has had his critics including me, but credit where credit is due in the last two games he has cut out the errors and had his best two games of the season, Jan Bednarek is one of the few who hasn't had many on his back on line, but he has not been at his best, but at Chelsea for perhaps the first time he and Stephens looked a partnership.

In midfield Nathan Redmond has never stopped running at his man and at Chelsea he did that and not only created chances but scored a good poachers goal.

In the centre both James Ward Prowse and Pierre Emille Hojbjerg have those on social media who take their criticism beyond reason, yet in contrasting ways at Chelsea both showed their detractors they are vital players to our cause.

Ward Prowse was immense, he tackled he passed and he ran the midfield from a deep position, alongside him PEH was not having a great game in terms of his passing which was not great, but his effort and determination meant that he turned a potential bad game into a reasonable one.

Stuart Armstrong had his critics last season but has mainly escaped that this season, possibly due to his lack of game time more than anything, starting only 4 Premier games before the trip to Stamford Bridge, but again he had a great game in midfield suggesting that perhaps Ralph Hasenhuttl finally found the right balance with the right players in the right positions.

Up front Che Adams has been the subject of much speculation that Saints are going to loan him out, that is harsh, his lack of goals earlier in the season perhaps overshadowed the fact that he still contributed to some good early results, at Stamford Bridge though he truly showed what he can do, he played the central strikers role brilliantly, he fought for the ball and won it, held it up and drew fouls and also had pace, he could well come good in the second half of the season.

Alongside him Michael Obafemi has spent the last year mainly failing to live up for the hopes many had for him a year ago when he burst on to the scene last December, here he scored a great goal and showed that when he applies himself he can be an asset, both he and Adams could well be vital in the second half of the season.

Even Danny Ings had many who said he was not worth the £20 million we paid for him and was not good enough.

so up at Stamford Bridge it was almost as if Ralph's team talk was basically about going out there and proving the critics wrong, indeed Hasenhuttl himself has come under fire of late, but in truth since the defeat to Leicester has turned it round and we would be well clear but for individual errors and that is not the managers fault.

Hopefully this performance as well as the win at Aston Villa will not only give the players confidence and they certainly looked to have found that again in the final third at Chelsea when they showed that they can see a game out and keep a clean sheet, but also keep the fans off their backs and that in itself aids not only confidence but performance.

This is not a dig at supporters here for criticising the players, indeed few of them can say they have had good seasons, but pointing out that they are all capable of performing at a decent level, perhaps not all of them as first choice, but they can all do a job.

As I have always maintained this is a good team capable of challenging for the top 10 if the errors are cut out, with the addition of a defender or two we can have a successful second half of the season and hopefully look to the future with hope once more.

Photo: Action Images

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aceofthebase added 10:42 - Dec 27
It used to be a central defender we needed not just a vague defender. So, who do we need to remove from this team Nick?

Colburn added 14:26 - Dec 27
Spot on saint Nicholas.. And fair play to Ralphs honesty in his post match interview where he admits he lost his way a little earlier in the season. Ive been critical of JWP and Redmond in recent times but they've kept plugging away and were vital yesterday, particularly JWP who was top drawer with his tackling, interceptions and his short passing game. The whoke team passed the ball with a crispness, which has been sometimes lacking this season, and we were a joy to watch. Makes me feel like we know our direction now and improves our potential with January signings as we suddenly look like a fun team to play in. Long may performances like yesterday last..

oldeastterrace added 15:34 - Dec 27
I back Nick in saying that we need another centre half at least. One who is commanding in the air, someone you can count on if you are facing an Arial bombardment. Look, I know from speaking to many supporters that the general feeling is that Jack Stephens is not a commanding centre half. Jack has been excellent the last couple of games and well done to him for that. By all accounts Jack is a lovely lad too, and we all want to see him prove himself and maybe he can win all his doubters over, but as things stand i suspect Jack, Yoshi or Danso will be prime candidates to eventually move on once replaced.

Peterx added 17:00 - Dec 27
To me the #1 priority is we need a back-up at LB for Bertrand as he does not want to play Vokins. When Bertrand was not playing were horrendous with trying to play the likes of PEH and Danso in that position.

For #2, If Cedric is not going to commit we need a RB to challenge Valery.

At CB I think Ralph believes he has enough cover with Danso and Vestergaard now and us settling on the 4-2-2-2, so I do not see the clamour for another CB now with Bednarek and Stephens partnership settling down. Long is also key to defend from corners.

Then would it be enough cover to just have Romeu if PEH or JWP get a knock in defensive midfield? We have not seen anything of Slattery for instance. Maybe some cover there or get Reed (or dare I say Lemina) back.

Up front we are fine unless we want to spend big money on an established goal scorer as back-up or addition to Ings also assuming the Long injury is not serious. The Chelsea performance indicates we can get by without if we play our 4-2-2-2 system. I think they will look at how we do against Palace and Tottenham and then make a call. If we get 4 + points out of those 2 then I would say the relegation threat from an Ings injury would be low.

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