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Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th August 2018 Kick-off 13:30
Saints V Watford The Preview
Friday, 26th Jan 2018 14:00
Saints take on Watford only a fortnight after the controversial draw at Vicarage Road, but Mauricio Pellegrino has a dilemma.
Under normal circumstances Mauricio Pellegrino might be using this game to try and keep his side moving forwards, the win at Fulham in the 3rd round has provided some momentum and it has lead to two straight draws in the League, the first against this weekend's visitors in controversial style with a blatant handball costing Saints a vital three points and therefore condemning them to a spot in the relegation zone and the second a decent draw against top four side Tottenham.
But Pellegrino has the small issue of a relegation six pointer against Brighton looming only four days after this game, so will be keen not to pick up any silly injuries that might cost him dearly on Wednesday evening or indeed next Saturday at West Brom.
Therefore I think that he might mix and match his side a little, perhaps stopping short of total changes as in the same round last season when Saints were slaughtered by Claude Puel's decision to play a virtual reserve side against Arsenal, but not putting out his strongest side either.
Tommorrow Pellegrino has to find that happy balance, in goal he could opt to give Fraser Forster a run out, certainly Alex McCarthy has done well but in truth hasn't been convincing in the past two games, so a run out for Forster might be in order.
In defence Pellegrino has his weakest area, in that although he has quality in Soares, Hoedt and Bertrand, he cannot afford for any of them to get injured as he has little in the way of cover, I would expect him to mix and match in the back four, indeed it could be all change with a back four selected from Pied, Bednarek, Yoshida Stephens and McQueen.
In midfield Pellegrino has plenty of options so will almost certainly make changes, especially in the centre where he may rest one of the starting trio on Sunday, then he also has plenty of wide options as well, all of his midfield are experienced and can come in so he has options.
Up front does he keep faith with Gabbiadini or does he reinstate Shane Long who did so well up at Watford, or does he give Carrillo his debut ?
Personally I would keep faith with Gabbiadini if only to keep Long fit for Wednesday and I would have him joined on the bench by Carrillo, we need the new signing in the side as soon as possible and integrated with his team mates, I would keep him in reserv but look to give him a run out at the end to give him a taste of the pace of English football.
All in all Pellegrino has plenty of options with his only real worries being the lack of quality at the back and the lack of a replacement for Van Dijk in the transfer window is rather worrying.
We need to win this game to give us more confidence, but more importantly the manager needs to start to show he has the tactical nous to lead us forward, perhaps whilst Saints were chasing Carrillo it ironically kept Pellegrino in a job as his close connections would have played a part in enticing the striker, now he is signed, it could mean Saints might be ready to make a change if needed.
The start of a big week for Saints, by the end of it we all might feel a lot happier or conversely Pellegrino's position would surely be untenable.
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