Watt View - Saints Pass Recent Tough Tests - And Can Expose Villa Weaknesses
Sunday, 1st Nov 2020 08:04 by Matt Watts
Matt spoke a few weeks ago about Saints games against Chelsea & Everton would provide the barometer of Saints progress, they passed those tests, can they keep the momentum going.
A couple of weeks ago, following back-to-back wins, I warned the trip to Chelsea and the visit of Everton to St Mary’s would provide the first real test of Saints’ progress since the punishment handed out by Spurs.
Some debate also ensued after my championing of the performances of Jannik Vestergaard in those two victories - though I could see the merit in suggestions that tougher tests lay ahead.
Having taken an excellent point away at Stamford Bridge and the well-deserved 2-0 win at home to the Toffees, the club - and Vestergaard - demonstrated an ability to compete firstly with the summer’s biggest spenders and then the season’s front-runners.
I felt prior to these two fixtures that they were the perfect opportunity for Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl and his team to make a real statement about how they have bounced back from early disappointment and could maintain a drive to improve on last-term.
The Austrian clearly has a superb ability to reinvigorate his teams and get them back on track quickly. He had said after the defeat to Tottenham that his team were not at the levels of fitness he wanted and that it would come. Given the turnaround after last season’s record 0-9 defeat to Leicester, I had every reason to believe he would get things straight.
Some astute business in the transfer market followed and, judging by the early impressions of Everton loanee Theo Walcott and the composed Ibrahima Diallo, the manager has drafted in recruits who not only suit his style but can have a significant impact.
After Walcott’s impressive display against Chelsea, it seemed typical of Saints’ luck for him to be unable to play the following week against his parent club - but the superb showing against Carlo Ancelotti’s men demonstrated the growing strength in depth in the squad, particularly with the bonus of young starlet Daniel N'Lundulu making his debut.
Tomorrow will be another stern test against an Aston Villa side which has made quality additions over the summer and started the season strongly - the 7-2 hammering of champions Liverpool an example of what they are capable of achieving.
However, their weaknesses were exploited by a Leeds team led by another top manager in Marcelo Bielsa and my sense is they will suffer the same fate against Hasenhuttl’s increasingly adept Saints side.
Photo: Action Images
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