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Southampton 1 v 1 Huddersfield Town
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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SaintBrock added 09:31 - Aug 4
I went to the game. IMO ~Nick you have well over-egged the cake. It was a win for sure but against a side that clearly were not fully prepared and frankly wanted to play at a far more leisurely pace than our pressing would allow. At times they did succeed in slowing the game down but generally the aggressiveness and physicality of our lads won the day.

We never dominated or dictated the play and often could not to keep the ball for very long. The Hojberg goal was the one decent multi-pass movement of he match. Köln relied overmuch on long balls down the channels admittedly with some success and the occasional high ball into the box which in general we dealt with.

Several Saints players did not convince, Redmond especially seemed unable to get into the game and Bertie was a bit in and out and seem knackered at 60min when the subs were made. Yoshida was clearly an improvement on Stephens and Cedric once again showed that he is a team player coming on expecting to play LB but having at the last minute to swap for the ailing Bertrand. He did some good work and I am pleased he is back in contention.

Boufal too showed glimpses of what he can do when fully fit and fully integrated into the side. He is one of the best chasers back we've got and some of his footwork in high situations is mesmerising to watch. Surely he must be a starter soon but where to play him will give Hutch a problem he will love.

Ward Prowse is not a DMF and his replacement by Romeu at 60m changed the midfield battle in out favour, surely we have to go with Hojberg & Romeu at Burnley. Feel a bit for Obafemi who was on at 60m and off at 75m not good for the lad's morale especially as he had a hand in the best move of the match.

Overall this was not a performance to get very excited about and with only a week to go we need to step it up very quickly. We just need to keep possession for much longer periods and love the ball enough to be able to pass it around and through our opponents confidently. We are not doing that at the moment in fact we seem to be puting pace and long balls ahead of flair and craft.

If Burnley are still a work in progress next week than we should scramble a draw but we are not by a long way the finished article despite all the pre season jaunts and hopes.

saintmark1976 added 10:02 - Aug 4
I didn't see the game yesterday so will refrain from comment.

On a more general but connected note.With less than a week to go before the new season starts,why are we attempting to cobble together a central defence from players who by common agreement weren't up to the job last term? The management team have had since early May to sort the problem and we appear no further forward.In fact, we appear to have added to the defensive problem in that we've sold a half decent defender to Villa.

aceofthebase added 10:15 - Aug 4
It's good to be optimistic but we were not that good. Ings trying to insult the opposition with his stuttering useless penalty. Too little possession and the old chestnut of turning back when attacking and the ball ends up with our backline or goalie.
Boufal is something else, his slickness is exciting but I wonder if we have players that can anticipate his quickness of feet and mind.
The defence doesn't need a leader, they are well drilled and take up the correct positions but they do need a stronger player in their midst. I was very disappointed to see the lightweight Cedric back in the squad, he will cost us more goals and points.
There are some exciting times ahead and we have some good players that will help us to a mid-table position.

Ali_Diarea added 10:27 - Aug 4
I agree that it “won’t be a total disaster” if we don’t get a CB in before the window closes, but if we don’t then it’s totally inexplicable. I’m fairly sure Nick that you commented at the start of the window that if we we hadn’t bought a CB in you would be the first to kick off, why the change of heart?

A record number of season ticket holders deserve a good season not a “solid season”.

WoolstonSaint2 added 10:45 - Aug 4
We have not improved our defence at all from last season. We let in over 60 goals, and we are still persisting with 3 CBs! JWP is not a CDM. These are two fundamental problems- weak central defence and lack of a quality CDM- that could cost us dearly this season and I am amazed they have not been addressed at all.

I_would added 10:55 - Aug 4
JWP is a good academy prospect. By the time he's about 40 he should be brilliant. And Hodge, pass the ball within 5 mins of receiving it and you won't lose possession so much. Pity we haven't got 22 Boufals.

Boris1977 added 11:51 - Aug 4
Couldn't make the game but not particularly disappointed. The last two home games of last season left a very bitter taste and feeling of déjà vu and I had a feeling this practice match wouldn't answer any questions that we are already aware of. Hopefully our forwards can score one more than the opposition on a regular basis this coming season.

bstokesaint added 13:24 - Aug 4
My optimism for next season is waning daily (and yes there was some when we signed Adams - I stupidly thought that would be the first of a number of top signings). As others have pointed out we lack leadership and strong defensive players. We can’t just use Ralph to paper over the cracks from previous seasons.

bstokesaint added 13:25 - Aug 4
And why wasn’t JWP taking pens?

I_would added 15:11 - Aug 4
Cos he would have passed it back.

bstokesaint added 15:21 - Aug 4
And yet it’d still have been a better penalty!

mattthelegend added 16:05 - Aug 4
Spot on bstokesaint, the one thing JWP is adept at is a dead ball situation and knows how to convert a penalty. WTF Ings was thinking about I don’t know, just leather it top corner or bottom corner!!

underweststand added 16:53 - Aug 4
Although encouraged by the new signings ..we still have the unresolved problem at CB.

Whilst we can field; Bednarek, Vestergaard and Yoshida (excuse that Nick) - we still have Hoedt and Stephens on the books (and not in contention) the likely introduction of Klarer at some future time.
Signing an "unknown quantity " now (regardless of how good they may be) not a good tactical solution, or a sound economic decision.

underweststand added 17:00 - Aug 4
As for the various comments above- regarding penalties.
Most would agree JWP has the right approach - hit the ball as hard as you can- whereas Danny Ings' "shuffle " may be able to deceive some keepers, he'll want to forget that one.

However, as this was a practice games, we need to experiment as much as possible, and in the event of JWP's absence - someone needs to step up to the spot.
Likewise...another good dead ball specialist (plus JWP). Might that be Bertrand, or Hojbjerg ? ..time will tell.

bstokesaint added 17:34 - Aug 4
Seem to remember Bertrand hit a pretty decent penalty last time he stepped up.

KriSaint added 20:46 - Aug 4
Hodge? The nickname for whom?


KriSaint added 20:52 - Aug 4
I guess the reason why we have not signed a centerback yet is because we are still only in the process o trying to find the right man...
Many deals are not materialized until close to deadline.
We got Alderweireld late in the window in 2014 and VVD on dead line day in 2015.
So - don´t give up on a new CB until the end of dead line day. Who might it be? :)

vanmans added 18:51 - Aug 5
Deadline day is at
17-00hrs this Thursday 8th August. So not long to get rid of the Deadwood and buy at least one Centre Half.

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