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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