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Hasenhuttl Has A Big Call To Make On Nathan Redmond For Villa Game
Friday, 30th Oct 2020 09:24
With the return of Theo Walcott to the squad for this weekend's trip to Aston Villa, Ralph Hasenhuttl has a decision to make, one that will split Saints fans down the middle, here we take a look at the situation.
For some reason even though he scored on his debut for the club, some Saints fans cannot seem to have anything good to say about Nathan Redmond, since signing in the summer of 2016 he has been a regular started under four different managers and although it has to be admitted that season 2017/18 wasn't his best, his third season saw him voted both Fans' and Players' Player of the year in 2018/19.
If you look at Redmond's contribution's in his four season's at the club and compare them with that of Sofiane Boufal who arrived at the same time there is no comparison, yet it seems the same people who slag off Redond happily tell me we should have kept Boufal for another year.
But that isn't enough for some and the moment his form dips the knockers seem to be out, I have a recurring dream where Saints win the Champions League Final in a thrilling game against Liverpool played in the Neu Camp, but as the trophy is about to be lifted the man next to me says "Nathan Redmond was sh*t" I think that sort of sums up the situation.
Mind you he is in good company, 18 months ago there were many saying we should not complete the Danny Ings permanent deal as he was injury prone and had only scored 7 goals, a year ago James Ward Prowse was getting dogs abuse.
But the decision by Sky to award Redmond man of the match against Everton seems to have riled the Redmond haters and I have had quite a few conversations where this has been called into question by some, I am being a little polite here.
In fairness I do agree that Redmond was not man of the match by a long chalk, but I also can see why it was awarded, yes he was struggling to get his game together, but he was contributing and he worked hard to get behind the ball when we lost it and his partnership with Ryan Bertrand not only negated the Toffee's attacking thread down our right but created space going forward which we exploited well.
But Redmond just didn't seem to be able to catch a break, his own chances seemed snatched and when he did create and could have perhaps had an assist, we didn't finish the move off when perhaps we should have.
So in my opinion Redmond's own work rate and willingness to keep going rather than hide, turned what could have been an awful game into one that contributed and played a part in the victory, it was generally agreed by all that we ripped Everton apart on our right side, he played a part in that, with his link up play with Ryan Bertrand.
Yes he was struggling to find his man and pass the ball at times, but then again so was Stuart Armstrong who looked decidedly rusty after his Covid 19 self isolation, but he like Redmond kept going and I haven't seen him criticised in the way Redmond has, perhaps because of his disallowed goal.
For me Redmond is a player that has an end product, he doesn't run around like a headless chicken, he can hold his position and link up well with others, Saints have changed the way that they have played a little with the emergence of Che Adams and with Redmond's season being a little stop start he needs to get back into the groove.
I certainly would play him ahead of Moussa Djenepo who although scored against West Brom , had played little part in the game before the goal, he struggled to make the runs that offer options and create space and openings, Djenepo has to have the ball at his feet or have it put into space to run onto, he isn't a clever player off the ball.
But Ralph has a decision to make ahead of the trip to Aston Villa, for some it is clear cut, Walcott in for Redmond, but it is not as easy as that, firstly Walcott played on the right at Chelsea, will the manager want to shuffle the playing pack to accommodate the dropping of Redmond, if he does that will he move Armstrong to the left or simply swap Walcott for Redmond.
But perhaps Ralph will be thinking differently, he will be aware that the Bertrand/Redmond partnership is one that works well, he might also feel that Stuart Armstrong himself was off the pace against Everton, we don't now how much Covid 19 has taken out of the Scot, certainly he was able to cruise home in the final 20 minutes as we passed the ball without too much pressure, but it will be different at Villa Park.
Finally perhaps Ralph sees that there is no reason to change the starting line up, it won the game against a then unbeaten Everton side, after all we won the game, we won it with our most comprehensive performances we couldn't afford to carry a passenger and there is evidence to say we didn't.
Theo was thrown in straight away for his debut at Chelsea as we had little other experienced options with Armstrong self isolating and Djenepo injured, against Villa he might think we have the right balance, in the pace of Redmond and the work rate of Armstrong.
Perhaps he will hold back Walcott to run at tiring legs, although he could also do that with Redmond.
Football is a squad game, Saints squad is what it is given our resources, but I do think that we are well served this season for wide players, Redmond, Armstrong, Djenepo and Walcott all offer different things and we also have several youngsters waiting in the wings, it is a nice dilemma for Ralph Hasenhuttl to have.
Photo: Action Images
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