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Saints Injury Worry For Newcastle Game Is Not The One You Would Think !
Tuesday, 3rd Nov 2020 09:28

After Danny Ings limped off at Aston Villa on Sunday Saints supporters started to worry, after all he is our top scored and talisman, but such are we now a team, the biggest injury worry will not be up front but at the back.

Danny Ings took all the headlines for Saints on Sunday, but as we all worried about his knee the fact that two other players vital to our unbeaten run had also been forced off the pitch through injury has been pushed to the back of our minds.

Ings of course will be a big loss, he is part of virtually every Saints goal and the heart of the team, he is not just about goals, he is about making space, he is about defending from the front, but he is not the only player who can do that and I feel that this might now be the time that Che Adams comes to the fore, he has been overshadowed by Ings and no one can argue with that, but now is his time to step up to the plate.

Ralph has a plethora of options ahead of the Newcastle game to replace the Netley Abbey Neutron Bomb, he could play Theo Walcott up front, he could play Shane Long, he could even play Michael Obafemi, we are not short of tried and tested options.

But it is at the back that we are suffering and Jan Bednarek will be a bigger miss for Saints than even Danny Ings.

In our opening 2 Premier League games the central pairing let in 6 goals, in the next 4 1/2 the pairing of Bednarek & Vestergaard in only 3 and had started to look like a solid unit, 3 clean sheets out of 4 games and for once we were achieving victories without the nagging thought that we had got lucky with men left unmarked failing to capitalise.

Why had things changed ? quite simple it was a case of both players knowing their positions, being able to read the game and sticking to their task, they marked their men and more importantly kept their shape, this meant that in the main opponents did not suddenly pop up unmarked at the far post or other areas of the penalty box.

Suddenly the whole team was a unit, we were not getting pulled all over the place by the opposition, every man in the team knew his job and could do it in the right area of the pitch without getting pulled over to try and deal with a player left unmarked and thus creating gaps elsewhere.

But when Jan Bednarek failed to appear for the second half at Villa Park suddenly we went back to the old ways, yes Villa were always going to come out all guns blazing, but we were no longer in control at the back, Alex McCarthy did his job and kept us in the game, but we were once again the same old Saints at the back, leaving men unmarked and inviting our opponents to score.

In truth the two goals at the end were slack, but they were not what my worry was, I was more concerned about the first 20 minutes or so when we handed the momentum to Villa which meant that they never gave up, they always felt that another goal would change the game, we never felt that way against West Brom or Everton.

The first two games of the season saw us concede a goal every 30 minutes on average, the next 4 1/2 saw that go up to every 135 minutes, but the second half at Villa saw 3 goals in 45 minutes, meaning that the average for the partnership's other than Bednarek/Vestergaard is a goal conceded every 25 minutes.

This highlights why we need the Bednarek/Vestergaard partnership against Newcastle, if the Polish defender is not fit then the critical area to worry about is at the back not the front, even if Ings was fit and playing, he cannot score as many as we concede.

The potential loss of Ryan Bertrand will also make a big difference, I think Jake Vokins will be a capable deputy, but he needs to be playing in a cohesive unit at the back, one that holds it's shape and knows what it is doing and in the second half at Villa no one could describe us as that, it was a tale of two halves and one change should not do that to a team.

So the problem for Saints is not that we have a small squad that is stretched, far from it, we have options and can cope in every position bar the centre of defence where having found a solid partnership in Jan Bednarek & Jannik Vestergaard we now have only two options and one of them is a new signing who hasn't played a game of any sort in nearly 4 months.

Hopefully Danny Ings injury is not long term, we can cope with his loss in the short term, but not for a longer period, but at the back it is more crucial and the injury to Bednarek is far more worrying than to Danny Ings in terms of the squads ability to cope.

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Wembley76 added 10:11 - Nov 3
Not making him a 'scapegoat' but.......
Common factor in Saints leaking goals - Jack Stephens. His name crops up in virtually every game that the team has conceded.

Peterx added 10:22 - Nov 3
Agree, loss of Danny for a game with an international break that he can recover hopefully we can live with. I would like to see Long get the game time and provide a pace in behind threat.

Our settled defence is a worry now, especially given we know that we will need to face the pace of Fraser and then with Wilson (almost a Son and Kane lite).

If Bertrand can't make it, I hope he brings in Vokins rather than playing JWP out of position.

If Bednarek cant make it then Stephens and Vestegaard need to put in a lot of work this week to get some understanding as it did not look like it was there on Sun when Stephens came on as he is clearly used to playing as Left CB and not right CB. One will have to switch.

underweststand added 11:17 - Nov 3
I've always supported Jack Stephens - who had been forced into the role (after VvD's injury) together with Yoshida as CB's, but time has shown (at least statistically) that it didn't work long term. I have always thought that Jack was better-suited to a more attacking role in midfield - but that's another discussion...and as Nick observed...Walcott or Long would be a good short term partner for Ché Adams...at least temporarily ...

but IF...Jan Bednarek isn't available it's surely the right opportunity to see how Salisu would perform - especially as more than a few contributors have questioned his absence,
and having spent the money on Salisu..why wouldn't we play him?
He isn't a loaned-type " Danso"...and better v. Newcastle than Man U. or Liverpool....

SalisburySaint added 11:21 - Nov 3
"Not making him a 'scapegoat' but.......
Common factor in Saints leaking goals - Jack Stephens. His name crops up in virtually every game that the team has conceded."

people have short memories, we didn't seem to have many issues at the end of last season after the restart when he was playing, but a poor game against Spurs and its knifes out for him.,

sandywelsh added 11:36 - Nov 3
It is quite simple Jack Stephens is not good enough for the Premier League. If Jan Bednarek is not fit to play then Mohammed Salisu must start!

Colburn added 12:17 - Nov 3
Salisbury Saint, you are spot on. Has everyone forgotten that after lockdown we were the third best performers with Jack at the back.. He clearly took a heavy knock against Palace and didn't look like he had recovered physically for the Spurs game. If you're all going to get the knives out for no reason or after one bad game then at least have the decency to offer praise when it's due.. But for some reason the Stephens haters are all blind to this.. Another piece designed to draw out the cowards.. I was one of first to question JWP's value at the start of last season and couldn't see him progressing as expected for so long in his career but I was wrong, he has completely transformed with18 months or so under Ralph and we saw a huge improvement in Jack last season when he finally had a long run in the side and was one of the main reasons for our end of season form. I can accept reading criticism when it's fair but sick of the Stephens lynch mob who are very blinkered and provide this constant attack on him. Give it a rest you clowns, it's gone too far and its far from being balanced.

claus5 added 12:57 - Nov 3
Nobody on here i assume wants Stephens to fail? But the sad fact is time and again he has proven to be not good enough, he fails to dominate in the air and is constantly caught out of position. If he was up to it he would be first choice by now, he isn't young and has had plenty of chances to shine.

schatfield added 13:04 - Nov 3
Jeez, here we go again. All the Stephens haters out in force. Its like you lot (and Nick) want him to fail only to be proved right! As Colburn said everyone has forgot what he did after lockdown at the end of last season. You lot are jokers, you are probably the same fans that sit in silence at St Marys waiting for the chance to boo our own players. Ridiculous. And articles like this (which are complete tosh and overlook the fact it was midfield who got sloppy v Villa) only fan the flames to make it worse.

SaintNick added 13:07 - Nov 3
Salisbury, I'm not making Jack Stephens a scapegoat, but the good form in the restart looks good in the stats column, but those who watched the game know that it wasn't as tight at the back as the goals against column suggested, Norwich should have been 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes when we left players unmarked, Watford had their chances, Arsenal was a game of errors, Manchester City were beaten 1-0 but it could have been another Leicester, even in the final game Sheffield United could have and should have been 3 up half time.

So it is not just about a couple of poor games at the start of this season, it is a problem that has not been satisfactorily solved since VVD's injury and Fonte's departure.

It is not a Stephens lynch mob, it is supporters like myself who for almost 4 years now have seen the team constantly ship soft goals and thrown away points, good teams are built from the back with a strong spine, we have not had that since 2016/17 season.

Jack Stephens has had some good games for Saints, he is a good squad player but nothing more.

Colburn says that he has been transformed in he last 18 months or so because he has finally had a long run in the side, I dont buy this he has had plenty of long runs before, 15 games in 2016/17, 22 starts in 2017/18, and 20 & 27 respectively in the last two seasons.

I would concede that he hasn't had a good calm head to play alongside and organise for him and that will not have helped, but he has played alongside a number of partners and not really succeeded.

The run in the restart clouded the issue a little, this is a balanced view 7/8 good games in the restart doesn't balance up the previous 3 1/2 years

We concede too many soft goals Jack has been involved in too many of them now, the litmus test is whether he would get in any other Premier League side, we will find out in January if he is out of the since as surely someone will be looking to snap him up.

I have always been balanced in my view, the problem is I can present so much evidence for the prosecution it looks like I am biased


NigD added 15:27 - Nov 3
Cannot believe the unwarranted abuse that Jack Stephens is getting on this post. Saints fans have very short memories, like Vestergaard now, Stephens was very good in the post lock down period. Give him a break, give him a chance. He has proven his ability. Let’s see if my faith is proven,

saintlee added 15:41 - Nov 3
Jack Stephens - Noooooooooooo !!!

schatfield added 20:17 - Nov 3
Nick, whats with the litmus test bull about offers coming in January?? I dont recall any bids for Ward-Prowse, Ings, Armstrong or any of our senior players last time, does that make them bad? nope. So why say that for Stephens.

And you are biased. Because everytime you write a review, you overlook the facts that other players were involved in letting a goal slide. Lazy writing to just blame Stephens.

SaintNick added 08:27 - Nov 4
Schatfield, i'm referring to the fact that if a player is out of the side then there will be those wanting to either buy him or take him on loan, when Yoshida and Hoedt were out of the side they had plenty of offers to leave the club.

In the article I didn't actually blame stephens, I just pointed out the difference in how we have defended with the Bednarek/Vestergaard combination.

I point out the details as I see them using examples, people eep telling me that he was great after the break, he was ok, but we still had defensive problems we just got away with them, I pointed out several examples, there is a quickness to find an excuse for Jack and blame the midfield, but teams give away the ball they dont get punished every time .

Ironically enough the collapse at the end was not to do with Jack, but the real issues came earlier in the half when Villa kept getting chances

I have absolutely nothing against Jack Stephens except his ability to play consistently to the level required, half a dozen games in the restart don't make up for dozens of others.

As I have said many times he is not in my opinion a central defender, notbig enough or strong enough to be a stopper, and he doesnt have the ability to read the game and be a Jose Fonte type defender, I think he would be better as a holding midfield player

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