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Southampton V Arsenal The Preview
Tuesday, 26th Jan 2021 10:56

Arsenal return to St Mary's this evening for the second part of the double header, but the injury crisis has worsened for Saints since the win in the FA Cup 3 days ago and with Ryan Bertrand suspended it will literally be the last 11 experienced players available starting.

If Saints thought it was down to the bare bones for the visit of the Gunners a few days ago, then they have another think coming, Kyle Walker Peters has joined the injury list and with Ryan Bertrand suspended, it means that only Jan Bednarek will survive from the first choice back four that was the backbone of Saints surge up the table back in the autumn.

This means that the side will pick itself for Ralph Hasenhuttl, there are literally no decisions for him to make in any position , he will pick literally his only fit experienced players, plus rookie left back Jake Vokins who will replace the suspended Bertrand.

On the right hand side it is likely that Yan Valery will deputise for KWP, two years ago Valery was the rising talent in Hasenhuttl's first 5 months in charge and was a revelation in the right back role, but at the start of last season something went wrong and after playing the opening 3 games was strangely dropped.

His appearances for the rest of the season were sporadic with various injuries and virus's blamed for his absence, there are some who say he was awful when he played, but if you look at the games he did play in, some were positive results where he looked something like the player of six months earlier, but many only remember the final game before lockdown when after a fairly solid performance and the team down to 10 men with 10 minutes to go he was too casual and got caught out for the only goal of the game.

But Ralph seemed to have more faith in him then, than he did with the loanee Walker Peters, who was behind him in the pecking order when the season restarted in June.

But after the home defeat to Arsenal in the 2nd game of the lockdown, Valery was dropped and KWP too his chance and it seemed that Valery's days were numbered at St Mary's, the injury crisis meant that he was on the bench for the Liverpool game a few weeks ago and he came on for the final 10 minutes on the right side of midfield, he looked a little rusty but there were also signs that his mojo was returning.

He made a brief cameo for 3 minutes at Leicester before playing the entire 90 minutes against Shrewsbury in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

So this if anything is the only decision for Ralph tonight, who plays at right back? and with this looks a simple decision assuming that Ralph wants to try and keep the shape of the side intact and leave tinkering to a minimum.

The one good piece of news is that Nathan Redmond is likely to come back into the squad and take his place on the bench, the winger hasn't appeared since the defeat against Manchester City 5 weeks ago and hasn't started a game since October when he helped Saints to a 2-0 win over Everton.

Redmond will offer Ralph some opportunity to change the game from the bench, something he didn't have against the Gunners on Saturday.

Then he had only one option for a game plan, that was to get to 75 minutes and then bring on fresh legs up front and then get to 85 and do the same, with due respect to the rest of the bench, the 11 that started had to get the job done as long as they could keep running.

That will be pretty much the blueprint for this game assuming that it is the same side with only Vokins and Valery in at full backs, so on the bench on one hand Ralph will have a little opportunity to vary things, but on the other Long & Nlundulu aside he has lost the only two other players he would feel are ready to step into the breach.

The bench has Redmond back, but it has lost other options, this is a game where we simply cannot afford an injury in any department aside from up front as we have absolutely no real cover.

On paper Arsenal have players coming back in, we have two crucial defenders not available, this is a tough ask.

But backs to the wall is what Saints often do best and and the game will follow a similar pattern to Saturday with Saints having the legs for an hour of the game but then forced back, if we can avoid injury then we can hopefully make the game follow exactly the same pattern as in the cup.

It is hard to be positive about this game when you consider that we have so many key players this season unavailable, so this is a free hit for Saints, there is little expectation so we might just spring a surprise, we have a spirit about us that Arsenal do not have, they blow hot and cold, we have to make this game one that they rant about on arsenaltv after the game.

Photo: Action Images



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SanMarco added 11:05 - Jan 26
Given all the problems anything we get from this game is a bonus. Having said that Arsenal should not frighten us. On paper Villa at the w/e is a tougher challenge!!
7

sandywelsh added 11:41 - Jan 26
If Valery and Vokins do come in alongside Stephens our defence will look very shaky. Lets hope we can score more goals than we let in.
1

ElijahK added 11:45 - Jan 26
My main worry is more of how long Walker-Peters is out for, as by the sounds of it most of our squad will be back by next week/the start of February, so let’s hope the Walker-Peters is also part of that group! As he’s been top quality so far this season and his absent will certainly make a major difference! Let’s just hope that it’s not too long
-1

redwight added 11:49 - Jan 26
As if things weren't bad enough. I see that Lawrenson has predicted a home win.
4

SaintPaulVW added 12:15 - Jan 26
We cannot really rely on the defence keeping a clean sheet every game. Given their lack of recent game time I'm unconvinced that Ralph will play both Valery and Vokins. I could see Diallo play at LB.

Our midfield looks more settled and should be a strength. With Redmond to come back in we should do well in getting the ball and turning Arsenal.

For me, the key to getting something from this game will be converting our chances. We really need Ings and Adams to get their scoring boots on again.

COYR!

2

highfield49 added 12:17 - Jan 26
I don't see that the absentees in defence are as crucial as getting the ball in the net at the other end of the pitch. Whilst we've kept clean sheets, with some great defensive efforts, it's now time for Ings, Adams, Walcott and Armstrong to take the pressure off and give the team a couple of goals lead. All of the forwards and mid fielders work their socks off and contribute massively to the defensive effort but a hat trick from Danny or Che would be a huge relief to all supporters. Vokins and Valery are both capable defenders but I wouldn't be massively surprised if RH chose to play JWP at right back with Valery in midfield. Diallo has proved very capable in the holding role and it might be that Romeu is available again after his calf injury. I think Arsenal should be more concerned than we are ahead of the game.
4

A1079 added 12:33 - Jan 26
I don't think the Arsenal side we saw on Saturday will be the one we will see tonight in terms of performance.

As already stated by others on here, my main concern is our inability to find the back of the net. Despite being the better side on Saturday we still had to rely on a single goal in off an Arsenal player.
1

KriSaint added 12:50 - Jan 26
My (and probably most of you guys') team for tonight:

-McCarthy
-Valery (massive opportunity to impress and secure getting picked (for the bench) for every match squad during the rest of the season)
-Stephens
-Bednarek
-Vokins
-JWP
-Diallo or Romeu
-Armstrong
-Walcott
-Ings
-Adams

COYR <3
1

Whatsforpud added 14:02 - Jan 26
But what is the injury?
0

underweststand added 14:02 - Jan 26
Injuries / suspensions are all part of the action during a season. Lots of fans sounded desperate, first when Redmond and Ings were out, then Vestergaard injured and absent for a month so far, but we still managed, and have kept 5 clean sheets in 6 outings since.
If we have any problems at the moment it's lack of goals.

If tonight's line-up means we see Valery and Vokins coming in - then so be it.
They have got to progress in their careers and now is their chance. Two lads who've been through the Academy since they were 16 , and they should know the ropes by now.
Whether Bertrand stays or not, Jake Vokins has to be given a chance to show his best, and although KWP is first choice RB, some extra game time for Yan can only be good to help him blend into the squad once again. Three points tonight will put us back in the mix again with Villa visiting us at the weekend. COYR.


0

DellBoyWally added 20:24 - Jan 26
Sadly Stephen's continues his old wats
1

DellBoyWally added 20:54 - Jan 26
Ways!
Stephen's, Walcott and Redmond. Couldn't make a footballer out the three!
1

ElijahK added 23:46 - Jan 26
In the end we mainly lost that down to the players unavailable to the team! I mean that’s the major reason we lost as we didn’t have our proper back 4, and didn’t have anyone on the bench who we could bring on and rely on to make a difference!

Personally I only thought that 3 players properly performed well, and that was Ward-Prowse, Armstrong and Diallo, those 3 were the only ones who went out onto that pitch and showed of why they should be playing week in, week out! But I also do have to say that Valery and Vodkins weren’t that bad and were decent enough for the young academy players that they were.
Everyone else on the other hand were soo poor today though, I mean Stephens I’ve defended countless times as really he is actually a decent defender for doing his tackles and duty, but his passing recently has been that dreadful that I’m certain the U16 saints team could have given away the ball many less times, especially the sort of passes like the where he gave it away before the goal as it just baffles me of how he did that! I mean I was also disappointed with Bednerak, especially for the second and third goal as both times he lost his man and that lead to them scoring, but at least he can make decent enough passes!
Others though weren’t too much better as McCarthy was quite poor for the second goal, and the 3 rd you’d of maybe thought he could be handles better by coming out to collect that cross, though he did make that decent early save. I mean I feel more comfortable with McCarthy in goal and dint want Forster to be in goal for even the FA cup games, but in the end I do think that Forster should get a chance or two (so maybe this weekend against Villa) to show why he should be in goal.
With our attack though I mean I do think that Walcott’s started to have quite a big dip in form and do think that he’s just creating very little and giving away the ball too much, hence why I’d say Redmond should get a chance against Villa. But of course he’s not the only attacking player who’s been poor recently as sorry but what is up with Che Adams as he’s now only scored 8 goals in like a season and a half (and has played practically every game, so has a ratio of pretty much 1 goal every 6/7 games!) and as much as he does do ok it’s just getting to a point now where I do start to wonder whether the likes of N’Ludelu or Tella should start a bit more, as I am starting to get a bit fed up of how very little Adams actually scores!
This games result though was mainly down to us having so many injuries, and yeah most of the players didn’t perform well at all, but like I’ve said, when your missing both full-backs and don’t have anyone on the bench, I mean what are you meant to expect!? (though I was quite confused of why Hastenhurtle didn’t just take off Walcott for Redmond and decided to take off Vodkins and decide to play a midfielder there!? I mean also when he took off Ings it pretty much said that he’d given up on the game which also was disappointing!)

But hopefully Hastenhurtle will look at how people have been playing and will edit the squad for Saturday and hopefully our team (especially in attack) can get going again! As I’m certain that if we didn’t have those 9 unavailable players since that Man U game, we’d of gotten many more points!
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