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Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th May 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V FC Koln The Verdict
Sunday, 4th Aug 2019 09:04
Saints finished of their pre season with a flourish beating FC Koln 2-0, but these results mean nothing, what did this game tell us about the squad.
Saints remained unbeaten in pre season winning four and drawing the other out of the five games, but as we know from the past , good results in pre season don't always mean a thing once the real work starts in the League.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was missing for the game against Koln though after a minor op on a leg injury a legacy from his playing days and instead watched via a video link.
As promised it was a side that looked pretty much as you would imagine the first choice, the only real position that seemed to be contencious was in the back three where Jack Stephens partnered Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestrgaard with no place in the starting line up for either Yoshida or Wesley Hoedt with the former on the bench and the latter not in the squad.
Saints started brightly with the front two of Che Adams and Danny Ings looking fast and fresh, ably supported by Nathan Redmond
It was Adams who again had an early decisive influence on the game, but this time it wasn't a goal but he was bundled over and the referee pointed to the spot, Danny Ings took the penalty and put Saints ahead.
Saints were in full effect now and looked likely to run riot, although it should be noted that for all the build up play they did not get enough shots in on goal, on 22 minutes the lead should have been doubled when Saints won another penalty, but Danny Ings tried to be too clever and his tame kick straight down the middle was easily saved by Koln keeper Horn who simply stayed where he was.
Sadly for Danny Ings he now goes down in history for the worst penalty seen at St Mary's.
Half time saw the score still 1-0 and in the main Saints had been strong but Koln hadn't really got into second gear although Angus Gunn had made a smart save early in the half which again highlighted the central defensive issue that truly needs addressing.
The break saw only one change Obafemi on for Ings and the game followed the same pattern as the first half, Saints looking good going forward and controlling the game.
The second goal of the game came on 53 minutes and it was a beauty, a well worked goal by anyones standards, Ward-Prowse’s lofted pass down the right found Obafemi, who cut back and played a pass inside to Højbjerg 20 yards out. The Saints skipper, in turn, slid a first-time ball in behind for the run of Che Adams, who, having drawn the keeper towards him, squared it back into the path of Højbjerg for a simple tap-in from six yards.
It was the best move of the game and clinical and highlighted our attacking prowess and it's capabilities.
Just after the hour mark though, their was a multiple substitution with five changes and from then on it was hard to really judge, although the pattern of the game did not change much.
With further changes on 71 minutes and then on 79 when on came Moussa Djenepo for his debut in a Saints shirt, he had little time to make an impact but looked sharp and a battling type of player who will fit in with Ralph Hasenhuttl's type of game.
So what did we learn from this game ?
There were many positives going forward and overall we have a squad that can compete, but there are still questions about that centre of defence, we need a leader in there, someone who can marshall the back line and control things and there is no one at the club who can fill that role.
It is not a total disaster if we do not get someone in, there is a tendency in these days of social media for meltdowns and bed wetting, but the reality is that in the second half of the season we had a good points to game ratio with this defence, now with the extra attacking options we have a better squad overall, so although not ideal if we have to go without a new signing in this area we are still capable of solid season, but with the right man in, it can be much better.
So we can go into next week's game at Burnley with confidence, we are a better side than at the end of last season with the addition of Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo and due to the Hasenhuttl effect totally unrecognisable shambles of a side under Mark Hughes a year ago when another German side in Werder Bremen ripped us to shreds.
Ralph Hasenhuttl deals only in positivity and that is what is needed now, we have to concentrate on what we have and not on what we could have had or even can't have.
Bring on Burnley and let's get underway.
Photo: Action Images
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