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Southampton 1 v 1 Huddersfield Town
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th May 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Feyenoord The Verdict
Monday, 29th Jul 2019 08:13

Saints continued their winning streak by beating Dutch giants Feyenoord in Rotterdam, but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have spotted just where he needs to improve his squad.

Ralph Hasenhuttl intimated pre match that he would be looking to play his starting XI well into the second half and making gradual changes, however that did not prove to be the case and at half time the Saints boss made 10 changes with Jannik Vestergaard being the only player to complete 90 minutes.

This was a game that seemed to have two sides who looked good going forward but awful defensively, Saints took the lead on 6 minutes when Che Adams scored again early doors capitalising on a bit of pressing causing dithering in the home defence and Adams slid in to toe poke home from close range.

The game settles into a pattern with both sides looking dangerous going forward but looking likely to concede every time they were attacked, indeed it could have been four apiece by the time Feyenoord equalised on 23 minutes and when Yoshida scored on 35 minutes I had lost count of the number of chances that had been either spurned or saved by the keeper on both sides.

At half time Hasenhuttl rung the changes and Feyneoord stuck with the side that had finished the half after two enforced changes through injury.

This looked ominous for Saints with the bulk of the side being either youngsters like Jake Vokins and Will Smallbone, fringe players who have played little part of late like Harrison Reed or those who the club are trying to move on such as Sofiane Boufal, Wesley Hoedt and Cedric.

The game was still open but Feyenoord had the upper hand and Saints only started to get a better grip of the game when the hosts made their last 3 changes stating with 25 minutes to go.

The second half was as open as the first with chances missed and saved at both ends and although Saints had to dig in they sealed a just about deserved victory in the final minute with Sofiane Boufal showing what he can do by rounding a couple of defenders and firing home.

Ralph Hasenhuttl will be pleased with the result but not so happy with the manner of the performance, yes of course it can be said that this was not a full first team and that it was mix and match especially in the second half, but the old problem still remained, we lacked a leader at the back with a bit of composure and pace, too often they carved us apart and we had poor finishing to thank alongside smart saves from both keepers used to thank for the fact that we didn't concede a lot more.

Feyenoord are a good side in the Dutch League, but that is far below the quality of the Premier League, in the first half we played what many would say is the best back three from what we have in Yoshida, Vestergaard and Bednarek, but as a trio they are not good enough, they showed that last season and they showed this at Feyenoord, individually they have their own qualities but as a trio they are unbalanced and lack the pace to deal with counter attacks and the organisation at the back, something has to change.

The good news is that Ralph has time to get it right, bringing in a new central defender will help matters, but if they can't land the right man then they have to look at what else they could do.

Wesley Hoedt had a good game in the second half and the defence looked slightly stronger and this may become an option, if it does then we have to hope that Ralph can improve Hoedt as he has done several other members of the squad and we should trust him in his judgement.

Another good win for Saints, but the truth is that the achilles heel from last season is still there and needs to be addressed.

Photo: Action Images

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Nomaesaints added 08:47 - Jul 29
I watched the game and thought that Feyenoord were the better team. They missed a good few chances and Saints keeper in the second half made some good saves. In the first half we were very exposed in the right full position and their goal came from there and shortly after they missed a sitter from the same right full position.
It looks to me that Saints aren't going to buy a CB and are going to depend on whats there at the moment. Yohsida got the run around yesterday and he's not the answer.

wibbersda added 09:28 - Jul 29
A very competitive game considering it was a friendly, however, it seems that we still suffering the same problems as last season. Take the lead and then sit back and invite pressure. So that still needs to be addressed along with new CB's which doesn't seem to be the clubs focus at the moment (and the last 3 years). Still, there are definite goals to be had this season and nice to see Boufal back.

simmo400 added 09:52 - Jul 29
Only saw 2nd half. Obefemie up front looked fast/strong. Long gave the ball away too cheaply. Thought Reed battled well. Not a lot of composure over all I guess due to all the changes that had been made. Boufal class on the finish was obvious to see. The ralph effect may turn him into a very good player this season.

highfield49 added 09:52 - Jul 29
Yup, judging only on the available highlights, none of the central defenders shows significant progress. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I am, that they appear to learn nothing from experience and repeat fundamental errors in positional play and awareness of what's happening around them. Quite simply they aren't capable of reading play and adjusting to developing situations. At his age and experience Yoshi should be the potential leader but sadly he is the worst culprit. I can't think of any player, in the Fonte style, who we could get in to sort out the mess I just hope that RH knows exactly what's needed and demands some transfer action today.

SanMarco added 10:25 - Jul 29
Total madness not to significantly strengthen the defence. Any hopes to actually challenge higher up the table will come to nothing if we leave things as they are. We have several second reserves at CB but none that merit first choice selection in a premier league team. Right-back is a big concern to.

It is great that we appear to have strengthened up front and that should help us get more points than the previous two seasons - but without a defence....

LoisDeem added 10:50 - Jul 29
Never been one for statistics, but there's no avoiding the fact that 'central defenders' make up roughly one third of our outfield team, and this is where the bulk of the traffic -whether steam trains, double decker buses or the world's best strikers, will continue to be driven.
Logic surely dictates then that we need to improve this area markedly, urgently.

ChristchurchSaint added 11:57 - Jul 29
Highfield, agree with most of what you say, but I’m sure there is a CB around who would fit into the role we need. When RH arrived, I checked out the Leipzig squad to see if there is any potential there. The obvious choice there is Willi Orban who RH appointed captain. He wouldn’t fit into the under23 criteria ( he is 26), but would hopefully be “the wise old head” we need. Obviously I don’t know how RH rates him or even if he would be interested in leaving Leipzig, but maybe a possibility.

highfield49 added 14:03 - Jul 29
Agreed Christchurch, I didn't make my point very well inasmuch as I'm sure there are players who could improve the defence it's just that I have no clue who we should be looking at!

SaintBrock added 15:32 - Jul 29
Good to see Cedric, Hoedt & Boufal playing again and mostly playing well despite fitness issues arising from their late returns this summer. Otherwise yes, Feyenoord were by far the better team and 3-1 flattered us.

My main concern yesterday was defensive midfield where Harry Reed helped to show how inadequate JWP is in that position and how much we missed Romeu despite his appetite for yellow cards.

Pity Ings & Long were still away on holiday but Adams' (scuff) and Boufal's (show-pony trick) showed that putting the ball in the net isn't such the dark art many have made it out to be in recent times. Obafemi has a lot to do to earn a starting place. Ten minutes of effort and 35 mins of invisibility is not going to impress Hutch.

RogerToye added 12:55 - Jul 30
defence we are not ready for a back 3 mores the pity especially first half surprised Feynoord were not a few up but there defence was worse then ours and we look sharp when three up front but exposes us a little in the middle. however RH as enough players if no more coming in to get first 11 in place good to sofiane back and he should gt a few starts to prove he is worth a second chance tude!!!

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