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Southampton 2 v 2 Burnley
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 23rd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Burnley The Preview
Friday, 22nd Oct 2021 09:19

Burnley have been a little bit of a bogey side for Saints in the past few years with their style of play, but can Saints show they have adapted their own style this season and can forge a win against the Lancashire side and in doing so surge away from the relegation zone.

After a tough 8 games to start the season that saw them earn 7 points, now Saints have a run of four game against teams down in the bottom third of the season and the task will be to come out of those fixtures with a reasonable amount of points, the target would be 8 points, but if Saints can burst into life up front it could be more.

First up in the quartet is Burnley, a side whom we have struggles with in the past few years, although last season did see us beat them both home and away.

Burnley like to keep it tight at the back and play the ball quickly forward and rely on the big men at set pieces to try and bully defences, we have struggled against teams like this and too often we get caught on the break or in lapses of concentration.

Wolves last month was an example of this where they sat back and caught us on the break, but when Leeds tried the same tactics a week ago, they found a more disciplined Saints side who in the main never gave them a sniff.

This will be a stronger challenge though, Leeds were a side lacking in spirit and could struggle this season, we hit them at just the right time and now we have to repeat that job with Burnley.

We know what we are going to get, they will get men behind the ball and pump it forward and try to catch us on the back foot, they did this last year at St Mary's racing into a two goal lead in 28 minutes, before we got our act together and won the game 3-2.

That showed that Saints had spirit and we again have showed that in the opening fixtures this season, we might have come up against clubs with bigger and supposedly better squads, but what we lacked in quality we more than made up for in spirit.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has some thinking to do before the game with regards to his line up, at the back I think he will stay pretty much the same, but the real questions are in the midfield and up front.

Does he keep the same formation as last week which saw a 4 man midfield and a single attacker in Armando Broja with Nathan Redmond in a more free role, or does he revert back to a more usual for the Austrian 4-4-2 and bring back either Che Adams or Adam Armstrong to partner the Albanian from Slough.

Either way he also has to look at his wide options, Moussa Djenepo and Moi Elyounoussi looked good at times, but at other times did not influence the game as you would want your wide men to do.

So Ralph has options, the first would be to revert to 4-4-2 with Nathan Redmond on the left and one of Adams or Adam Armstrong up front, that would leave a dilemma on the right, should he bring back Stuart Armstrong from the start, or keep him on the bench for late on when he might need to either chase the game, or have the experience of the Scot to keep it tight as he did against Leeds.

The second option would be to keep the same formation, Redmond revelled in his free role last week and was at the heart of all our work going forward and provided a link between midfield and attack, but if he does that he still has the same issues out wide, normally Stuart Armstrong would be a no brainer, but it is his level of fitness that is the question.

Against Leeds we got the tactics right, we knew it would be tough to break them down and when we did we battened down the hatches ourselves.

Ralph will look at the side and consider that in the wide positions he has plenty of options but only one has truly delivered and that is Nathan Redmond, flying runs and fancy dribbles are fine but you have to have an end product and that means getting in shots, crosses and creating chances for others, so far this season only Redmond has done that as in his role in the Newcastle comeback, the Leeds game and also Manchester City where his ball should have seen Saints take the lead either through Adam Armstrong putting the ball away or a penalty.

Moussa Djeepo, Moi Elyounoissi and Theo Walcott each have different attributes in their style of play, but the reality is that none have truly altered the course of a game and Ralph hasenhuttl will be well aware of it, we look good going forward at times, but there are not enough clear chances created.

Nathan Tella is another option who Ralph looks ready to unleash again, in the tough opening 8 where disciplined play and experience was needed he stuck with those with that experience, but Tella surely should be able to step up the pecking order above Elounoussi, Djenepo and Walcott.

I am not rubbishing this trio, they all have a part to play this season, but none have done enough and more importantly when they have they have not done it with consistency.

But it is a good dilemma to have.

Up front Ralph will have been glad to see that Armado Broja has scored his debut Premier league goal, reading between the lines it seems that the Austrian has felt that Broja has come to the South Coast with the wrong attitude and that had to be changed, perhaps the Albanian from Slough thought that being a Chelsea player was a little above Saints and hadn't put the work in, certainly Ralph saw him as more of an impact player than a starter, perhaps tellingly so did Albania and to be frank if you can't get in their side there is something strange going on.

But Broja seems to have worked hard and the manager's kidology worked, strikers thrive on goals and now he has one he could go on a run.

Che Adams was injured for the Leeds game, but he is proven at this level now and will be good for 9-10 goals this season, he will be chomping at the bit and with the confidence that comes from playing regular international football could well be the surprise package this season.

Adam Armstrong has not played badly, he is a livewire and a handful, but he has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, he has wanted an extra touch and been caught by a defender when he should have got a shot away, but this will come with experience.

Dropping him last week will have taken him out of the firing line and hopefully given him a shot up the rear end and spurred him on to work harder, strikers hate sitting on benches and watching their team waste chances, Armstrong and for that matter Adams will be dying to get on the field against Burnley.

This is another crucial game for Saints, having done the hard work against Leeds and in those opening 8 games, we now have to kick on, if we sent Sean Dyche back to Lancashire pointless, then we will be putting daylight between us and the bottom 3, lose and we are right back down there with them and all the good work undone.

This is the first of four tough games against sides who we are looking to finish above this season, we need to get points on the board and show the doubters that although there is still a lot of work to do, we have the foundations in place to have a good season and indeed many more to come.

Photo: Action Images

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highfield49 added 10:10 - Oct 22
Broja is working noticeably harder and appears to have accepted the pressing aspect of the game as being an essential attribute if he's going to retain a starting role. Despite Elyounoussi's improved form I don't think he's done enough to keep a fit Stu Armstrong out of the team and I think a change is likely. Tactically I'd start with Adams and Broja up front with the intention of giving Adam Armstrong the opportunity to show his pace in the final twenty or thirty minutes depending on the score line. Burnley are an ageing team, usually difficult to break down and more physical in the challenge than better quality sides. I'm hoping that the match officials aren't sympathetic to the "if it moves kick it and, if it doesn't move, kick it anyway" Burnley approach to the game.

Colburn added 11:01 - Oct 22
It's so funny how desperate you are to see Djenepo and Elyonoussi out of the starting line up.. You fail to recognise that Redmond has failed to deliver from a wide position, far better in a central or floating role, so what would be the point in sticking him out wide where he is stifled? I thought you liked him..
Djenepo hasn't delivered... Except for the superb penetrative pass which set us up for the solitary goal against Leeds. Elyonoussi has something different, had caused problems and found the back of the net.
I don't see any point in changing the line up for Burnley after finally winning a league game last week. Redmond needs to stay central if we want to see the best from him. Djenepo works well with Perraud and Elyonoussi is showing far more than you give him credit for. If some players are given time by you after several poor showings then why not others when they have done ok?

SaintNick added 12:26 - Oct 22
Im not desperate at all to see either Djenepo or Elyounoussi out of the starting line up, I am just not sure either has done enough so far to justify selection in front of those mentioned.

Redmond may have performed better in the free role, but he has also performed as a wide man off the bench at Newcastle and has had more impact than either.

Elyounoussi & Djenepo destroy Burnley with man of the match performances and i will be more than happy for them to stay in the team

Boris1977 added 12:46 - Oct 22
Let's see what tinker man does tomorrow regarding the squad but I'll be surprised if there isn't unnecessary tinkering. As far as I remember puel liked to keep chopping and changing but managers can do what they like as long as they are getting the PTS. Well in theory.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see the sheff utd/Brighton combo of results last season i.e. get 3 PTS then not turn up for the following game.

But post COVID I've learnt to only focus on the things I can influence so whatever happens tomorrow I can happily live with it.

Boris1977 added 12:48 - Oct 22
Ps most teams have been bogey sides for saints over the last few seasons.

WestSussexSaint added 13:13 - Oct 22
I don’t think Ralph should change the starting XI from the team against Leeds. The only possible exception would be if Stuart Armstrong is fit enough to play from the start as his ability to unlock defences will be critical against Burnley who will be disciplined in defence. If Armstrong does start the it should be for Djenepo. I get that he works hard in defence and can occasionally play a pass like he did with the goal against Leeds. But it is not enough going forwards and I would hope the defensive side won’t be needed as much against Burnley.

As for the attacking options Redmond and Broja both had their best games of the season so should stay in place. It will be a physical battle against the Burnley defenders so Broja physicality will be needed. Armstrong and Adams are good options off the bench if we need to change things or when the starters tire.

KriSaint added 15:42 - Oct 22
Picking the starting XI will probably be pretty easy for Ralph this saturday if everybody has put in a shift in his training sessions this week.

No changes in the starting XI but one (or maybe two) on the bench!

Adams must be selected for the match squad but he will probably have to do with a place on the bench.
Unlucky for Adams and our 2 Armstrongs, but hopefully they will get minutes on the pitch from the bench and help the team, which I assume will start in a 4-2-2-1-1 (4-4-1-1) formation.
Nice to have such an ok bench.

theralpholution added 16:57 - Oct 22
I love the way this guy uses 'in reality' instead of 'in my opinion.'

Peterx added 05:26 - Oct 23
Cant see any changes.

I'm a big Stuart Armstrong fan but cant justify after a win why he should start instead of Djenepo who defends well and his unpredictability could lead to something in attack in a side difficult to break down. Rather give him 30 mins for whoever is not firing out of Djenepo, Elynoussi or Diallo.

If we go with the Burnley has aging defenders who are getting slower and vulnerable to pressing theory then the pace of AA, Tella especially could also play a part.

If we want to get bullied less at set pieces you could even see Shane Long coming on at some stage with his heading ability. Che also has more bulk to throw around.

underweststand added 10:04 - Oct 23
Always a good physical tussle v. Burnley and they are one of the bottom-half sides that I always measure our performances against.
Sean Dyche has a side not afraid of " getting stuck in " , but for both sides a win in vital.
Hopefully will be a good game, and hope Saints can improve on last week's win.

IanRC added 14:07 - Oct 23
Unbelievable changing Walcott for Djenepo.

Boris1977 added 14:35 - Oct 23
Ralph and Puel should pool their resources and manage together. Can you imagine the weekly selection process. Walcott has lived book ended a charmed football career from going to the world cup as a mascot when he was 16 to coming back to saints to help the younger players by, I'm, taking their place in the starting 11. Next thing you know the under 23s will get an average ex CB in to mentor the young players to teach them how to give away penalties. You've got to laugh though 🤪🤪🤣🤣

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