Stuart Armstrong Return Key To Kick Starting Southampton Season
Friday, 8th Oct 2021 09:23
Saints four draws in the opening seven games were a foundation to build on given the level of the opposition we had in the opening games, but we now need to get that first win of the season and the return of Stuart Armstrong will be key to doing that.
Ralph Hasenhuttl seems to have solved many of Saints defensive woes, although the weakness in seeing out the last 10 minutes of a game is still a problem as was shown in the defeat at Chelsea when two goals were conceded in the last 7 minutes to cost us a deserved point.
But having sorted out one end of the pitch, what has stopped Saints turning draws into wins has been up at the other end of the pitch, scoring goals or to be more accurate creating chances.
The problem is that our options at the moment in midfield are all a little samey, Theo Walcott, Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo & Moussa Elyounoussi are in essence all variations on the same theme.
That is they go down the wing and look to cross the ball into the box.
That is fine, but when you are putting crosses into a box then you need people who get on the end of them, Adam Armstrong and Che Adams don't seem to be the type of forwards who thrive on this sort of service, they seem to be more channel runners, Adam Armstrong in particular being quite small will struggle to meet crosses, he is fast and nippy, his best work this season has been when he has been played through the centre and can get a defender on the back foot.
When he has done that he has looked good, but he has yet to really find his finishing touch, but when he does he could be potent.
But both he and Che Adams need service from midfield and more to the point service that will suit them rather than just waiting for a cross into the box.
The key to this could be Stuart Armstrong, even though he was usually deployed in a wide position, what made him stand out after a difficult start at St Mary's was his ability to get the ball and drive forward by cutting inside, this had a dual effect of either Armstrong himself having a shot on goal or creating an opening for others and this could be key for both his namesake Adam as well as Che Adams.
Without Stuart Armstrong Saints have lacked variation going forward, the build up is too often following a familiar pattern of building down the wing and then trying to get to the byeline and cross and other teams know this, we need to bring in something different and this is where the return of Stuart Armstrong will help.
There has been much talk of Saints season so far and some have called for the manager to go, we are not quite at the spot yet, we have built some solid foundations as has been shown with draws against Manchester United, West Ham & Manchester City, three sides who have started the season well, but not everything has been perfect and there is still work to be done.
But we have the personnel to get things right and with some big contracts ending next summer the purse strings may loosen in January, at the moment changing manager will not change the make up of the squad, we have to work with what we have got both on and off the pitch and with Stuart Armstrong returning from injury we have a boost to the squad.
Photo: Action Images
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