|Southampton 0 v 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 26th September 2021 Kick-off 14:00
Southampton V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Preview
Saturday, 25th Sep 2021 08:54
Saints & Wolves both go into this game knowing that it is a crossroads in their season, the fact is that although defeat for either side will put them on the verge of a relegation fight, there will still be many more crossroads to go yet this season.
I keep saying that Saints have made a solid start and there is no doubt that in being unbeaten in the last four Premier League games since the opening day defeat at Everton that we are a better side than we showed in the second half of last season when injuries decimated us and ruined what had been a good first half of the season.
But it has still been the same old story at both ends of the field, in defence defensive errors have cost us dearly although two 0-0 draws have shown we have tightened up a little of late, but those results have also shown that we need to be taking chances at the other end of the pitch and the truth is we have missed some good chances in all of our games.
So it is time to step up to the plate at both ends of the pitch, Ralph Hasenhuttl has to find his best defence and going forward his attacking players have to start turning chances into goals.
No one wants to see players injured, but when Jack Stephens had to go off at Manchester City it forced Ralph's hand, Stephens is a good squad member, but he is not better than either Bednarek or Salisu and at the moment they are our best pairing so it was rather strange that they were not paired together in the opening games, aside from when we went to a back three against Manchester United.
That should hopefully help tighten up at the back and also the manager has to decide his best defence all round, it has been mix and match every game and the only player who Ralph has picked in every league game has been Tino Livramento, there has been too much mix and match especially at right back where he has alternated between Romain Perraud and an out of position Romain Perraud.
It is good that we have so many options now, but we still have to get team selection right and good teams are built from solid foundations at the back and that means continuity.
But with the defence being a lot stronger, the real issue is about taking chances and we have been far too lax in doing that, both Adam Armstrong and Che Adams have had plenty of chances and formed a decent partnership, but between them they have scored only a single goal, that being on the opening day at Everton, although we have to take into account that Che Adams saw his deflected shot go in against United and Armstrong won a penalty at Newcastle.
Armando Broja has shown promise and some salivated over him in his cameo appearance against West Ham, but he too still hasn't scored in the League.
But if we need our strikers to start scoring, they need to be supported from the midfield, we need the likes of Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo, Moi Elyounoiussi, Theo Walcott and Nathan Tella to start being players who can give you 6 or 7 goals a season from midfield.
That is perhaps the key, in this respect Redmond is our best bet, he showed against Newcastle that he is a player who has an end product, his perfect cross for Elyounoussi's goal and through ball that saw Armstrong brought down showed he can deliver and in terms of goals he has the best record of any of his rivals for a spot out wide.
The good news is that this highlights the depth we have now, some may sneer, but all of the above named players plus Stuart Armstrong give us depth, all are players who have done it at various times, just not done it enough times with consistency.
Two years ago when Ralph arrived the team virtually picked itself and we had to rely on youngsters coming in when players were injured, most of those youngsters are no longer at the club and in the main in League One at best, that is fine, that has always been the case, but now we have six player vying for essentially two positions and that is good.
I say good but between them they have to perform and that means creating chances and goals, too often we have seen some good individual displays but little end product, Moussa Djenepo at Everton being a good example of Theo Walcott in the same game for that matter.
So we need all these players to show up if they are called upon to face Wolves, we need everyone to have a good game, but going forward we need a striker to have a great game and for him to do that we need one of our wide players to also have a great game.
We have that and we can win the game.
The problem is that Wolves are a side that we don't like to play, they have the pace of Traore and he could tear us apart at the back.
That happened a couple of seasons back when we blew a 2-0 lead in the second half to lose 3-2.
But hopefully we can combat that threat, we have full backs with pace now.
So what side would I like to see out there.
Alex McCarthy has improved in goal in the last two games and deserves his place.
In the centre of defence Jan Bednarek & Mohammed Salisu are our best pairing and have to play.
The full back issue is a good one to have, most Saints fans would suggest that moving Tino Livramento to midfield and playing Kyle Walker Peters at right back and Romain Perraud at left back would be the best way forward, but it seems that Ralph doesn't agree.
I think that Livramento will start at right back, but I haven't a clue what he will do on the left, but that is a good problem to have.
In midfield James Ward Prowse & Oriel Romeu have to start, but who plays along side them ?
I think on the left it has to be Nathan Redmond, that won't be the choice of many, but of the options he is the one who has had the most end product as he showed at Newcastle, too many times people focus on what he has done that hasn't come off and not what has, a winger as such is a numbers game, you get in 10 crosses and hope that one is converted, Redmond has the best percentage in this respect.
On the other side I would have Moi Elyounoussi again he is finally showing a little class and deserves to start.
But we will have plenty of options off the bench so we need to utilise them when needed.
Up front I still think Adam Armstrong and Che Adams are the best options, there has been a lot of clamour surrounding Armando Broja, mainly based on two chances against West Ham, Broja is a talent, but for me both Adams & Armstrong have had end product this season and Broja hasn't.
The two words I have used most have been "End Product" and that has been our problem, at Manchester City Nathan Redmond harrassed the City defence got the ball and put Adam Armstrong through on goal, that should have been an assist for Redmond, but instead of talking about a great bit of play from him in creating the chance, all the talk is about VAR, there was no end product from Adam Armstrong, yes I think it was a penalty, but strikers need to put the ball in the net, if Armstrong had got his shot away and scored then we would not be talking about VAR.
This isn't a criticism of the ex Blackburn man, but he like the rest of our attacking team aren't yet firing on all cylinders, an inform striker puts that away, one who isn't doesn't and is almost looking to be brought down.
So on Sunday afternoon we have to turn a lot of promise into goals and three points, we do that and we have turned a big corner, the team will start to have more belief and just as importantly so will the fans.
Big big game for Saints against Wolves, time for all to step up and have that END PRODUCT !
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #10 by wessex_exile
So here we are again, still looking for that elusive first home league win of the season, only this time against high-flying (and recently non-league) Harrogate Town. That isn’t meant to be in any way disrespectful for Harrogate Town, they should be applauded for what they have achieved so far, but it is nevertheless a measure of how far our stock has fallen in recent years that we find ourselves in this situation. I have no doubt that today will be a difficult game, but it’ll be even more so if Hayden Mullins doesn’t take anything from recent performances and realise that what he’s trying just doesn’t seem to be working – he simply has to change things around. Whether he will or not remains to be seen – maybe he will, maybe won’t and the old guard will finally come good? I guess we’ll know one way or another by 5pm.
When Saturday Comes #9 by wessex_exile
After the complete horror-show that was U’s v Salford last Saturday, we find ourselves desperately clinging on to our away form like a drowning man to a lifebuoy…and I have no doubt Tranmere will be seriously stamping on our fingers in that regard. As a Friday night kick-off, I can look forward to the live match stream, which I was fortunately spared for the Salford game (it sounded bad enough). Swings and roundabouts though, if this hadn’t been rearranged to a Friday night, I may well have joined my Tranmere mate Chris and his family for the weekend – Prenton Park is always a good visit for an awayday, so safe travelling and good luck to Durham and the rest of the U’s faithful who make the trip.
When Saturday Comes #8 by wessex_exile
I’ve gone back through my archive, and the last football match I attended before last Saturday at the County Ground was U’s at Cheltenham on 29th February 2020 (and covered in LfW11) – In other words a 574 day wait. Others have mentioned about finding other things to do, losing their love for live football, things like that, and certainly my bank balance has appreciated the break from costly awaydays for the best (worst) part of 18 months. If I’m honest, I was slightly worried that I would go the same way, that the attraction would fade after so long, but I needn’t have been. As a result, it’ll be a slightly different format to this When Saturday Comes blog.
When Saturday Comes #7 by wessex_exile
Well that didn’t go as planned at all – after a stirring battling performance full of grit, character and togetherness with the small band of travelling supporters at Barrow, the U’s then finally returned back to the JobServe and completely failed to turn up against bogey side Crawley. They weren’t the only ones either, Hayden Mullins was absent as well, and we have since learned he has Covid-19 and will also miss tomorrow’s game at Swindon too – I know we all wish Hayden a speedy recovery. Fortunately, I won’t be missing the match, with tickets arriving last weekend – first live game for best part of 18 months, and I can’t bloody wait!
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
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