|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
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
When Saturday Comes #35 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and the U’s have already given us a fantastic start to the weekend, with a stirring and well-deserved 2-1 victory at promotion-chasing Newport County. Yes, the Exiles had lost the previous three at home and are looking like they are going to bottle their chance for the play-offs, and yes with the U’s now safe technically we had little to play for, but don’t take anything away from this performance. If Wayne Brown is still being ‘interviewed’ for the full-time role as Colchester United manager, then last night was the equivalent of having an excellent incisive question of your own lined up for the interview panel.
When Saturday Comes #34 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and our Easter Bank Holiday programme is already underway, following a dismal 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park yesterday. It’s not so much the result that galls, in truth deep down I suspect we all thought it was going to be a difficult trip to get anything out of, it was the manner of that defeat. To say the U’s were lacklustre is a massive understatement – and it wasn’t as if it was down to Exeter City simply outplaying us, I didn’t think they were all that to be honest. I can cope with defeat, heaven knows the U’s have given me enough practice in recent years, but to go down without a whimper, relying on Man of the Match Sham to keep it from becoming a cricket score against an average Exeter City, was just dreadful.
When Saturday Comes #33 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and there was a time, not too long ago, when today’s game against the charmless Steve Evans and Stevenage was looking like it might be a relegation 6-pointer. Whilst we’re not out of the woods quite yet, back-to-back victories over Tranmere Rovers and Harrogate mean we go into this game knowing even if we were to slip up against Stevenage, we’ll still be 8pts plus goal difference ahead of them, and only five games left to play. Still, let’s not dwell on negatives, because three wins on the bounce will be the confidence-booster we’ll need ahead of the tough trip on Good Friday to St James’ Park.
[ Vote here ]