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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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felly1 added 16:29 - Oct 8
We've definitely missed Stuey. It may take few games or so for him to shake off the rust but he's been our best creative player in recent seasons.
Not sure about your comments on our wide attacking players running down the wing and crossing. Mostly that's been the role of Livramento and KWP, our wide attackers in my opinion prefer to cut inside, Redmond and Djenepo.
10

Ali_Diarea added 17:16 - Oct 8
I’d like to see Ralph mix up the formation a bit.
4-3-2-1 could work:

Perraud; Bednarek; Salisu; Livramento
JWP; Romeu; S Armstrong
Adams; Armstrong
Broja

Agree that Stuart Armstrong is key for us. Not being disrespectful to him but that in itself should send out alarm bells.
1

Ali_Diarea added 17:16 - Oct 8
I’d like to see Ralph mix up the formation a bit.
4-3-2-1 could work:

Perraud; Bednarek; Salisu; Livramento
JWP; Romeu; S Armstrong
Adams; Armstrong
Broja

Agree that Stuart Armstrong is key for us. Not being disrespectful to him but that in itself should send out alarm bells.
0

highfield49 added 12:04 - Oct 9
When you say that Walcott, Djenepo, Redmond and Elyuonoussi are all variations on the same theme, Nick, it's hard to disagree. Which is even more reason to wonder why Tella has been sat on the bench for so long. Getting KWP, Stu Armstrong, Tella and maybe even Diallo all playing in their best positions seems so obvious, but for some reason not to RH at present.
2

halftimeorange added 15:34 - Oct 9
Although he's undoubtedly talented and one of our better performers recently, I don't think Stuart Armstrong will suddenly turn our draw specialists into match winners. On his day he is very creative, more so than JWP in my opinion, but chances have to be converted. Much too often our attacking midfielders take one touch too many - Redmond and Djenepo are particularly guilty of losing the ball or running up blind alleys. As for Walcott and Elyounoussie, neither inspires me with any confidence. They are lightweights in our league. Why Livramento isn't played further forward on the right and Tella played on the left is beyond me. If that system was given a shout then Stuart's magic would be more likely to work.
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