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Saints Scapegoats Show They Have Fight
Tuesday, 5th Nov 2019 12:04

In recent weeks James Ward Prowse and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg have come in from criticism from Saints supporters, but they have shown that they have the fight to get out of the relegation zone and should be backed not slagged,

Ever since I have supported Saints going back to the early 1970's there has always seemed to be a scapegoat at the club, someone who the fans have loved to hate and pour the blame on, it hasn't always been a player, Lawrie McMenemy was a figure of hate at the club for the first 2 1/2 years of his time at the Dell before finally turning the boos into cheers when he got us to the FA Cup final.

In the past couple of years the latest target has almost changed by the week, 3 months ago Sofiane Boufal had spent a couple of years being put forward as the evidence that Les Reed had lost the plot and that our player recruitment was not what it had once been.

Now there are those who have championed him as the saviour of the club based only on a goal in a friendly at Feyenoord and a cross for an assist at Brighton.

Latest targets for the supporters wrath have been James Ward Prowse and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, it cannot be denied that in recent weeks they have not been up to their previous standards, but then again they are surrounded by players who are struggling themselves.

Hojbjerg has been asked to play in different roles than he has been used to including at left back, but in both games against Manchester City he showed he has what it takes in terms of grit and determination by sticking to his task despite having to face up to relentless pace down his wing.

He is not a left back, but he stuck to his task in a difficult situation, he will have learn't something from this.

James Ward Prowse has also been a target for the boo boys, he too has been asked to play a different role that usual and his versatility has meant that when substitutions are necessary and the team is reshuffled than it is JWP who is shifted to right back etc.

This has not been good for his personal form in that he has not been able to find the consistency that comes from playing regularly in the same role.

Sofiane Boufal has been championed by some who say that Ward Prowse lacks the flair of Boufal a player who can create chances, but the reality is actually just the opposite.

In terms of goals in the Premier League Ward Prowse has played 204 games for the club and scored 19 goals at a rate of a goal every 10.7 games, not a great ratio for a midfielder but then again he has not played every game in an attacking position, in contrast Boufal has played 58 times in the Premier League and scored 3 goals a rate of a goal every 19.33 games.

In terms of assists Ward Prowse has 21 to his name, that an assist every 9.7 games compared to Boufal's 4 which is a ratio of one every 14.5.

So that refutes the suggestion that Boufal is a more creative player than Ward Prowse, so I would say that Bouffal might give that impression as he has a penchant for some nice little runs with the ball, but he does not produce the end product that JWP does either in terms of goals scored or assisted.

Likewise there is the points per game ration, Saints have averaged 1.27 points per game when JWP has been playing whereas in the games Bouffal has played it has been only 0.83 per game.

Of course this will be distorted by the fact that JWP played in some good seasons for Saints under Koeman and Pochettino whereas Boufal didn't, so this is not completely accurate.

But if we compare the two full seasons that Boufal has played for the club in 16/17 when he played it was an average of .79 points per game whereas for JWP it was 1.17 and in 2017/18, it was 0.81 for Boufal and .93 for JWP.

These figures perhaps show the reason why James Ward Prowse still starts for Saints and Boufal doesn't, the Morrocan is undoubtedly a flair player and can run at the opposition, but all too rarely does he have an end product.

In his defence he can be brilliant, but that is not frequent enough as these stats show and at the end of the day long mazy runs don't win points, end product does.

Of course sometimes assists don't always tell the full picture in a move, but when we spread the data out over a long period of time, truly Boufal should have more goals and assists to his name after almost 60 games and it shows why he has struggled to get a regular place in the side.

So for the moment anyway, James Ward Prowse is ploughing a thankless furrow, fans don't give accolades for playing out of position they give them for the odd great pass etc, so JWP will not be acclaimed by the lasses whereas Boufal is.

Boufal can play a part in this season, but I am afraid it is going to be a bit part where he is used as a sub late on, but even that is far from guaranteed, lets be blunt Djenepo, Che Adams and even Shane Long are all in the pecking order in front of him at the moment.

So in conclusion both Pierre Emile Hojbejerg and James Ward Prowse have proved their worth for Saints over the past few years, form is temporary and class is permanent, they both showed on Saturday at Manchester City that they have the spirit to drag us out of this mess.

Photo: Action Images

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NewburySaint added 13:20 - Nov 6
Oh the irony......Yoshida anyone?!

Maybe you should drill the stats down even further and average out the minutes, not games, both have played, as well as all of the touches, passes etc. both Boufal and JWP have had which may tell a different story, maybe.

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