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Saints Need To Rediscover Home Form Against Aston Villa
Wednesday, 19th Feb 2020 09:52

Why do Saints play so badly at home against teams who they should really do better against at home ? The answer is simple but is it easy to rectify ?

I said a week ago that the home game against Burnley would be a watershed in the season, it would point the way that the rest of the season would go, sadly I was to be proved right and that defeat highlighted that as well as we have done of late, the truth is that the same issues still remain and have not been dealt with and glossed over.

Those issues are in the centre of defence where we continually lose concentration, concede soft goals in every game and cannot defend on the break.

Most of these problems are organisational and could be dealt with if we have a leader in the back four but we don't.

Some will say here he goes again having a pop at Jack Stephens or whoever, but good teams are built on good central defenders and we have not got one who would truly get into another Premier League side at present.

The proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating and in the last six games we have conceded 13 goals and almost without noticing it have slipped down the form table, 4 of these games being defeats.

Truth is if we hadn't conceded half of these goals we would be in the top 10 and probably in the 6th round of the FA Cup, we aren't and as has been highlighted most of those 13 goals should have been prevented.

Yes the midfield do play a part in this, but ultimately the back four has to earn it's corn sometimes and it isn't.

This is why playing at home doesn't suit us unless it is against a team who are going at us hell for leather, when we played Spurs in the league for instance it suited us, they had 2/3 of the possession and we could sit back and ensure that we didn't get caught on the break as we were sat on our own penalty area for most of the game.

We could then break at speed and catch them, in that game we got caught lapsing in concentration a couple of times, but both we got away with and we won the game.

Against Burnley it was different we had the bulk of the ball and they sat back and waited for us and both their goals were typical that Saints conceded, a truly soft opener where we were disorganised and paid the price and a second where they hoofed the ball forward and caught Stephens and Vestergaard completely all at sea, Vestergaard got most of the stick because he was marking fresh air, but that is where leadership comes in, Stephens behind him could see the game, he should have made sure that Vestergaard knew exactly where his man was, in truth a complete lack of talking.

As I have been saying all season sometimes we will get away with it, sometimes we won't, but if you think I am being harsh on Jack Stephens then I can live with that, the goals against column both in the last six games and indeed all season where we are the second worst defence in the Premier League does not lie, if you are happy to praise mediocrity then that is your choice, me I want to see us win games of football and I am sick to death of seeing us concede soft goals week in week out, we do not pay our defenders to go on mazy runs into the opposition half, we pay them to defend for 90 minutes and not get caught out.

Would Jose Fonte & Van Dijk conceded that 2nd goal ? the answer is no and neither would Fonte and Alderweireld or even Lovren, if we had conceded 6 goals in the last 6 games I would not behaving the chance to moan, that is the problem.

So Aston Villa arrive on Saturday only two points outside of the relegation zone, but if they win they will be only two points behind us, we need these three points as much as they do if we are to get nearer that finish line.

But there is hope for us, Villa will have to come at us, a draw isn't good enough for them, this is their easiest game for them on paper between now and the end of the season, they are playing the second worst defence in the League and the team with the worst home record, they will fancy this one.

There is some good news though, firstly as mentioned we are the second worst defence, but Villa are the worst and we need to make sure they still are by 5pm on Saturday, they have let in 50 goals, 2 more than our 48.

Secondly they have a League Cup final next weekend and although their manager might not like it, it will be hard to keep their players focused on this game and not with an eye on Wembley next week, will they be fully committed and risk injury we will soon find out ?

So like Norwich and Watford, two teams who came to us in similar positions a few months ago and lost, they have to come at us and that will perhaps suit us, unlike Burnley they won't be able to sit back and catch us on the break, because unlike Burnley they won't be able to soak up the pressure.

If we look back at the three home games we have won, the games followed similar patterns, but the main thing was we had luck at the right moments and we will certainly need that against Villa.

So last week the defeat showed us that the rest of the season will be much like all of the previous games, littered with defensive mistakes and games we should have won, we have to make sure this is one where our luck holds and we do not get punished.

Make no bones about it this is an important game, win it and we are almost at the finishing line, maybe as little as one more win away, lose it and Aston Villa are right up our rear end and although we have a far easier run in than them that means nothing.

This season Saints are better suited to away games for several reasons, therefore they need all the help that they can get and that includes the supporters.

Photo: Action Images

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stmichael added 10:01 - Feb 19
The players you mentioned had Wanyama and Schneiderlin protecting them.
Been banging on about it for ages even VVD would look ordinary in this team..

DorsetIan added 10:54 - Feb 19
You are being very harsh on Stephens. He and Bednarek looked good as a central defensive pair, and they conceded very few goals when we were on the good run recently. It's hardly Stephens' fault that Ralph inexplicably chose not to play Bednarek alongside him against Burnley.

And to say that he and Vestergaard were 'completely at sea' for the second goal is ridiculous. The problem lay with Djenepo having no ability to close down in midfield, allowing Hendrick the time to put in a lovely cross. Once, he received the ball Vydra then showed exceptional skill to control it, turn and score. That level of skill would have taken out most defences.


Kingsland34 added 12:26 - Feb 19
What a load of unbalanced rubbish. Do not other teams let in goals and apart from a fortunate and wealthy few who exactly have better central defenders? Vydra's goal was excellent and thankfully for the sake of football such moments happen. Conversely perhaps Burnley should have stopped Danny from scoring from your perverse viewpoint.
Too much depends on our defence and Danny Ings, the rest of the squad need to relieve matters.
To cap it all yesterday you had the arrant temerity to complain about supporters for criticising players yet you have an obsession of endlessy doing just such with our defenders. Please get off their back, to suggest thay are not even Championship standard is insulting.

Saintsforeverj added 12:58 - Feb 19
The problem is the lack of investment in the team. We have mostly average players and to quote Nick "Sometimes we will get away with it it, sometimes we wont". The thing is though Nick, I would go a bit further and complain at the running of the club from Gao down, for not addressing the defensive situation. I find it bizarre that Nick can rightly state how frustrating it is that we keep letting in stupid goals, yet when we complain about the club / Gao for not addressing it, he has a go at the fans. You are right Nick, the defence is poor and has been for many years, so should you not be blaming the club for not sorting it?

underweststand added 14:02 - Feb 19
The ongoing cry of " lack of investment" comes up in almost every thread.
We might say it isn't always the COST of the player that is important, rather the choice
We have a number of good players who cost considerably less than the record buys who have flopped in our team, and yet we still scream, tear our hair out and ask why?
1) Looking at the last 3-4 years (since Koeman) the only "big money" signing who has really shone has been Danny Ings (and it's no coincidence that he has been playing in England all of his career).
2) Most of the bad signings have been from European sides where they have shown good form ..playing in a good side (exception being Carrillo perhaps) but in general many players look good in a side that playing well -even if they are below the team average.
Many Euro playes are not accustomed to the pace and physical demands of the Prem.

3) is the worst condemnation. We scout or sign a player, bring him in and then play him out of positon. Danso is the latest victim as we were led to believe that he was CB but has only played CB once, and resulting games at full back have been far from good.
(please don't anyone say a prefessional footballe should be able to play anywhere (!).

If we buy a CB, striker or whoever, we should play them in the position they are best suited to , and be sure they know what is expected of them. In the end it's all down to what they can bring to the team, and we can't see that by playing people out of their best position.


highfield49 added 14:08 - Feb 19
Whilst not going so far as to say that the defence couldn't do with improvement, a lot teams have issues in that department, it's also clear that without Ings we would not be causing many problems at the other end of the pitch. It could be, and has been, argued that our substitutes don't get enough playing time to contribute many goals but surely Obafemi, Adams, Boufal and Djenepo between them ought to be finding the net with some regularity? Ironically it was a Burnley player with hardly any game time who scored the winner. Perhaps against Villa if we have, or haven't, taken control of the game by half time then Adams should be given forty minutes rather than five minutes to make his mark. Surely game time against a Birmingham rival team would lift his head? I'd even go so far as to play him from the start and RH show a little faith in his undoubted ability.

saintmark1976 added 14:16 - Feb 19
About the only part of your article with which I can agree Nick is that we need to beat Villa on Saturday. To be honest I'm past caring as to how we achieve a win.I just don't want to have to read or listen to anymore excuses from the manager or players as to why they failed to win.It's time for them to stop "talking the talk" and to start "walking the walk" and as I have posted before,to give something back to the long suffering home fans.

BoondockSaint added 17:38 - Feb 19
It wasn't Stephens who stepped out of the way, making sure the ball didn't hit him to let in the first goal....yes Ings made up for that, but I still can't imagine what he was thinking!

AmericanSaint added 01:02 - Feb 20
This is drival.... DorsetIan was right in his second paragraph. Midfield lost the ball and Hendrick made a pin point pass (in swirling wind - not heaving it up like you said) and the rest is history. While I agree we need another CB, your constant ranting on this issue as the sole problem is ridiculous. I think our problem is really in the midfield as we lose the ball to many times just past-half way point. This allows for other teams to counter attack with our wing backs out of position. In our efforts to push forward and press high - we tend to forget that ONE of the midfielders needs to sit back and be a stopping point on the counter attack when the ball is lost. Also, our home fans have not always been the best - lets be honest. If we go a goal down, there is not always a crowd "bounce" of energy. The only game I saw that was against Spurs. All the other times, we needed to tie the game up before the crowd got loud and into the game. Either way, we need to get behind the guys this weekend and keep cheering even if we go behind a goal. We have the ability to comeback, but the players have a fragile ego at home and any support we can give will be a benefit. COYR beat AV.

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