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Watford 0 v 1 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 30th October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Watford The Preview
Friday, 29th Oct 2021 10:06

Saints travel to Vicarage Road to take on a Watford side buoyant after blitzing Everton last weekend with four goals in the final 12 minutes, can they take the sting out of the Hornets and bring them back down to earth.

A week ago you would have had Saints as firm favourites for this game, we were above them on goal difference and at approximately 4.35 pm on Saturday afternoon with the Hornets 2-1 down at Goodison park and with us level pegging at home to Burnley we had moved a point above them in the Premier League table.

But sometimes football can change quickly and Everton collapsed and let in 4 goals in that final 12 minutes and lost 5-2, but was this a freak result or had Watford really improved that much under Claudio Ranieri in the week since Liverpool beat them at Vicarage Road 5-0 only a week earlier.

We will find out tomorrow, however I am of the feeling that this was more an Everton collapse than a Watford resurgence, although I take nothing away from their win, they took their chances when they had them and having shocked Everton with two goals in as many minutes to turn the game around and lead 3-2, they then took advantage of an Everton side in disarray.

Josh King who had been linked with Saints back In February and had ironically joined Everton, had not scored a goal whilst at the Toffee's had failed to score for Watford before last weekend and indeed had not scored a goal in the League since notching for Bournemouth in July 2020 again ironically at Everton in Bournemouth's last game in the Premier League before relegation, yet he hit three at Goodison Park .

So Saints job is to stop the Hornet's in their tracks and in doing so move above them with the first away win of the season.

Do that and it will be a solid start to the season, fail to do it and we are still looking over our shoulders and the knives will be out on social media.

The truth is it is going to be tighter around the bottom 3 than normal this season and with Newcastle about to spend mega millions in January it is vital we get wins under our belts and pull away from the bottom 3.

At Chelsea on Tuesday night there was a lot of good to be taken from the game, ok it was effectively two second teams battling each other, but a Chelsea reserve team would probably finish in the top 10, so it was great to see the spirit we showed at Stamford Bridge and several players are now going to give Ralph Hasenhuttl selection headaches.

In goal he has to decide between Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster , in truth I thought Forster should have started the season at number 1, McCarthy endured a few poor games in the opening spell but pulled it around, I still think that Forster is our best bet after his display at Stamford Bridge, but McCarthy has done little wrong in the past few games so I think he will stick with him.

In defence Lyanco was a rock on Tuesday and showed that he has the fight needed to play in the Premier League, Ralph has to decide whether to keep him in and leave out Jan Bednarek or switch to a back three.

This is a very tricky one and one I find it hard to call, if it is going to be a back four I think I would be brave and plump for Lyanco.

In midfield we have the returning James Ward Prowse, but again Oriol Romeu and Ibrahima Diallo have been strong in the three games they have been in together, JWP is our captain and best player we can't leave him out, which leads me to believe that we might switch formation for this game.

With Armando Broja missing through injury It is pointing to a switch to a 3-2-2-1-2 formation.

I think he may play Benarek, Lyanco & Salisu as a back three with two wide players Tino Livramento and Stuart Armstrong just in front as wing backs.

Sitting in the middle will be Romeu & Diallo in a holding role with James Ward Prowse in front of them.

Up front it will be Che Adams & Adam Armstrong, although it could be either one of them benched for Nathan Dyer.

I think this role gives us strength at the back and in midfield, but gives us more opportunity to get the ball quickly to our attackers.

Defensively we have improved this year, but it has come at a cost, we don't get forward enough and we don't use players to the best of their abilities.

In midfield too often JWP has had to work hard to defend and has not had the freedom to do what he does best and that is pass the ball forward and up front all of our attackers are essentially channel runners, they want to run on to the ball not continually be trying to get on to the end of crosses.

A change in formation would allow us to do that, we can get Stuart Armstrong and Tino Valentino forward and at the same time hold the back line with a midfield trio rather than duo.

This will give JWP that freedom to put his foot on the ball and pass it, he is an adaptable player but of late he has been playing more as a defensive midfielder than an attacking one, he is the key to unlocking defences and get our attackers playing to their strengths by running on to through balls.

For me this seems the logical way forward and we need to be brave.

It is a game that can show us what the next few months hold, if we lose Watford will be 5 points above us and that is a big gap at this time of year, we have to win and push ourselves up the league.

We should go their with confidence, we would have done so had Everton not collapsed in the final minutes, we would have been above Watford and looking to make that gap bigger, but it is what it is and we now have to put them back in their place.

After the performance at Chelsea we should be more optimistic about the season, we have showed we can compete with the top sides, now we need to show we can despatch the sides around us, the game on Tuesday showed that unlike the second half of last season we have an experienced squad and won't have to rely on academy kids to make up the numbers.

Yes some of those players aren't having the best of times and Theo Walcott came in for a lot of unfair stick on Tuesday night, some weren't happy that he came on for Tella, but in a game like that we couldn't carry any passengers, Walcott worked hard and made sure we weren't swamped, the fact that we finished stronger than Chelsea and could easily have won it in the final stages but for the brilliance of their keeper tells you something about how we got the substitutions right, we got fresh legs on at the right times.

Perhaps Theo Walcott is not am 8 or 9 goal a season player anymore, but it is about using the squad and over a season we have Walcott, Tella & Djenepo even Elyounoussi competing for the same position, it is about getting 3 or 4 goals out of each of them , spreading the goals, spreading the assists and spreading the workload.

Likewise up front, last season we had two strikers that got 21 Premier League goals between them, this season we have three, the trick is to get all of them getting at least 7 goals and if we can get at least one of them into double figures then we will have improved.

Last season saw the onus on a small squad, if one player wasn't performing we didn't have options, this season we have options.

So having said all of this the time for excuses is over, we have got through the spell from hell that was the opening 8 games, it is now time to show we have what it take to push towards a top 10 placing again, this will be hard because put bluntly there are 10 clubs including us who could finish 10th and those same 10 clubs could just as easily get dragged into a relegation fight.

Photo: Action Images

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Bawdrip added 10:38 - Oct 29
I'm not sure playing Nathan Dyer is a good idea!

saint22 added 11:03 - Oct 29
I would rather Nathan Dyer than Theo Walcott

wrathoftazz added 11:11 - Oct 29
What's certain....

Notagain Redmond will start
Zero Walnutt will start
Dodgy subs
Dodgy waistcoats
Dodgy formation


Ralph blaming everyone apart from himself

Everyone saying we showed promise, People saying Ralph needs more time, THOSE people not realising he's had 3 yrs and we get closer to relegation the longer he is running the ship.

I predict a lose... because to predict anything other means I'm not a true saints supported and have faith in Ralph.

Colburn added 11:38 - Oct 29
Although one of Redmonds biggest critics, I seem to recall him finding the net against Watford in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if he scores tomorrow. These things have a habit of repetition in sport so I would not be unhappy to see him starting tomorrow.
After his goal Tuesday it also makes sense for Che to be back in.
I wouldn't mind seeing Romeu sweep up allowing Diallo to stay in the team alongside JWP in the centre and then the wingbacks can really attack.
Under Ranieri, Watford might be more adventurous, less cautious and thus more of an open game. We need to win this one really...

HythePeer added 11:47 - Oct 29
The Saints have played so much better over the last 3 games but I have a feeling that's about to stop.

Dellwizard added 12:40 - Oct 29
I didn't realise we had signed Tino Valentino ! Interesting to see if he does get a game but it would be difficult to leave out Tino Livramento as he has been our star player this season.
Let's hope our strikers start scoring in this match as it's not going to get any easier after this, apart from Norwich.

WestSussexSaint added 13:28 - Oct 29
I think the suggestion formation of 3-2-2-1-2 smacks of trying to accommodate players and not drop anyone who has done a decent job. I hope Ralph doesn’t follow that logic and makes the tough (and correct) decisions when it comes to who starts.

McCarthy will start. I agree with others who see Forster as the better keeper but Alex is Ralph’s number one and has done little wrong in recent matches to justify being dropped.

The centre backs should be Salisu and Lyanco. A confident Josh king will be a handful and I fear Bednarek doesn’t have the pace or physicality to compete. Lyanco is better equipped and deserves his chance.

I don’t see Stuart Armstrong playing wing back hence why keep the normal formation and Armstrong plays as one of the wide midfielders. If we do go with 3 CBS then Peraud is more equipped to play that role.

In midfield I think Diallo will drop to the bench. It’s hard on the lad after some good showings but I think it gives a good option later in the game. JWP will play.

If Che Adams is fit and not one of those struggling as mentioned in the article then I think he replaces Broja. I would like to see Adam Armstrong play to help continue the development of that partnership. That means dropping Redmond either to the bench or into one of the wide positions but I have a sense after some good performances we are about to see him revert to type. Hope he proves me wrong.


JoeEgg added 13:31 - Oct 29
Still just a little puzzled about the possible choice of Tino Valentino and Nathan Dyer - I guess that makes Ralph's team selection even more complicated than I previously thought!

Listen - this game is most certainly a tale of two managers. Ranieri didn't need three years to get a great result at Everton. Maybe that was a fluke and a one -off but what an achievement! Watford are without several key players however and Ralph has an enormously promising group of players at his disposal.

This game will tell us a lot about the respective abilities and understanding of both managers, with the advantage lying very much on Ralph's side at the moment. Ralph's team selection, tactics and substitutions will once again be under intense scrutiny . So, yes, this a crucial games for Saints, but even more so for our Ralph- its a matter of life or death.

Peterx added 14:24 - Oct 29
Yes we have not got the results but I'm enjoying what I'm seeing from the Saints and our main criticism of last year of no plan B is no longer valid.

Apart from the Everton game we have not folded like we did in the back half of last season. The first Chelsea result I don t count because of the sending off.

Forster, Lyanco, KWP and Diallo will be very unlucky not to get game time, but I would go with the 4-2-2-2. Lets respect, but not over-respect Watford.

Not sure if Stewie is injured but I would be quite happy with AA, Che, Redders or Djenepo, Stewie or JWP, JWP or Diallo, Romeu, Tino, Bednarek or Lyanco, Salisu, Perrault.

KriSaint added 18:08 - Oct 29
I think Ralph indicated in his pre-match interviews that he seriously considers , first and foremost, Fraser Forster for Saturdays match vs Watford, which I think sounds good. It probably won' t happen, though. I still can't believe how easily Cornet scored to 2-2, and I think McCarthy should have saved that shot!
Also, I think, Ralph indicated, that Lyanco (YES!) and Diallo could get the nod on saturday, which I salute. I'd be even more happy if KWP also plays from the start. It worries me that KWP has lost his place. Admittedly Tino has played very well, but we can't have a top quality player like KWP not playing from the start. It breaks my heart because he is SO good!!! I don't think KWP would feel terribly out of position, if he gets to play in front of Tino in right midfield. Just imagine the power these two super talents could give us, both with and without the ball, on our right side, our right "channel". Otherwise, let KWP play that left back. Period. No disrespect to Romain Perraud but KWP is (currently) clearly a 10 times better player and should be much higher in the team hierarchy than Romain.

KriSaint added 20:56 - Oct 29
Nick, thanks for the innocent, unintended Nathan Dyer mentioning. I hope you laughed yourself.
For the very young fans who might not have heard of him, he was an academy player, who made it to our first team in a financially terrible era, which ended with relegation in 2009 + a nine points deduction penalty. Nathan Dyer, a diminutive right winger with pace, left Saints for Swansea around 2008 or 2009 - after a small scandal involving another of our young players, Bradley Wright-Phillips, the two of them being busted for steeling some items from bags/coats in a night club - caught on camera. Dyer was blessed with pace but never broke through while at Saints. He's had a decent career at Swansea and was on loan at Leicester and scored a few important goals when Leicester won the PL title in 2016.

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