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Will Ralph Change Saints Formation Against Chelsea !
Friday, 19th Feb 2021 09:38

With Ralph Hasenhuttl missing Kyle Walker Peters for the visit of Chelsea and no other specialist right back at the club, the question is whether the Austrian will reshuffle or reshape his line up.

A month ago Saints were in the depths of an injury and suspension crisis meaning that they were so short of players they actually names two goalkeepers on the subs bench, that injury crisis has eased and Ralph Hasenhuttl has a reasonable core of players to call upon at the moment, but he is short in key areas and one of those areas is full back on either side where he only has Kyle Walker Peters on the right and Ryan Bertrand on the left as specialist full backs. Although Jack Stephens can play in either position if called upon.

He does have others who can play there, but it will weaken the balance of the team if he has to drop James Ward Prowse into defence or even the likes of Stuart Armstrong.

But there is another option than reshuffling and that is reshaping, with Mohammed Salisu now fit and having come through a decent debut in the FA Cup game against Wolves, Hasenhuttl could opt to play a back three and revert to a formation that in his first year at the club he was fond of deploying, both from the start of games and even switching to it during them.

The defeat at home to Leicester City last season saw Ralph realise that he didn't have the personnel to play that formation and he went back to basics with a solid 4-4-2 that he has stuck with ever since.

To call it rigid would be unfair, Saints have tweaked the shape of that line up during games, but essentially it kept a shape that the players could adapt to.

Back in December he probably thought that he was starting to get a squad together that he could maximise it's potential with, but injury has ravaged it, some Saints supporters moan about the lack of a plan B , but truth is Hasenhuttl is too experienced a coach not to have other plans, at the moment he just hasn't got the numbers and experienced players to change much.

But now it seems he might, ironically the lack of a right back means he has to have a rethink and ahead of the game against Chelsea he has given a clue to what might be in his plans.

When asked about the possibility of changing formation Hasenhuttl said:

“Everything is possible.

“Whenever we have played a 4-2-2-2 is it possible to change the shape.

“You want to bring the best players on the pitch and if you have no player in one position then it is always an option to think about a change of shape.

“The most important thing is that you bring the best players on the pitch, this is why we changed to a 4-2-2-2, because we had so many offensive players and we had no positions for them.

“This is why we are always open-minded for everything.”

With no midweek fixture, Hasenhuttl has had time able to work with his side on the training ground and it seems that he has worked more on the tactical side of things than physical effort which could lead to injury:

The Saints boss also pointed out that during games although the shape is 4-4-2, it reverts in and out of differing formations as the situation dictates:

"When we build up with the ball we play as a three sometimes.

“This is not something that is too difficult to change quickly. Especially when you have a week to prepare, it is possible to play as back five, definitely."

So it seems that this is an idea that Ralph is considering.

As I see it i would surmise that he is thinking along these lines.

A back three of Bednarek, Vestergaard and Salisu.

Stuart Armstrong on the right and Ryan Bertrand on the left as wing backs as such.

A central three of Oriol Romeu and James Ward Prowse holding the midfield with Tukami Minamino playing just in front of the two strikers, Danny Ings and Che Adams, although the latter might still find Nathan Redmond preferred.

That will still leave a few options on the bench, Redmond, Djenepo & Stephens provide experienced cover in all three areas and then you will have the u and coming Nathan Tella and Dan N'Lundulu and finally a few youngsters.

Obviously the bench isn't as strong as it could be, but it will mean that we do have three substitutions that could adapt and also change the game.

We would obviously prefer to be making these changes against a lesser team than Chelsea, but these are desperate times at the moment, truth is we have to try something to break the run of defeats and this game is as good as any.

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DellBoyWally added 10:51 - Feb 19
That is practically the lineup I proposed last week before the Wolves PL game!
Look and learn!!! LoL 🤣

SaintPaulVW added 11:08 - Feb 19
Unless Stephens has really shown something in training I can't see him playing at RB again from the start of a game.

As we have seen in the past 3 CB's create their own issues. Our big problem can be a lack of leadership. Unless someone takes up this role there will be problems. Salisu certainly deserves some time, perhaps him in the middle of the 3?

I have concerns about Armstrong as wingback. He has had a few injuries already this season and it may be overstretching him.

JWP would be my vote as closer to a more traditional RB. Keep Armstrong further up the pitch where he is more effective.


underweststand added 11:26 - Feb 19
Clearly Ralph will have to use his available players (especially in defence) and the line-up is almost academic ....and fairly predictable.
My main concern would be that without Abraham at CF, the prospect of Giroud leading the line for Chelsea is quite a daunting one. Going back to his days at Arsenal, he has an uncanny record of almost scoring for fun when he plays against us.
We can hope we find the right formula to combat this and have someone " take care of him without getting red-carded " - as from memory he has a very " artistic way " of winning penalties.

However, I do think it's time to give Forster a run out in the Prem. McCarthy may remain Ralph's first choice, but right now he doesn't need the pressure of having concede so many goals om his mind, whereas Forster's future may depend on his performances against the "Chelsea's and the Leicester's in this league.
I don't think that Ralph will change his basic formation, but as I wrote on previous thread, Salisu MUST get involved if he is going to play against teams at the top end , and not leave him as an afterthought when we play the likes of Sheffield Utd and West Brom.

After recent performances and coming up against an on-form Chelsea, we have nothing to lose - except the next game.

SanMarco added 12:54 - Feb 19
I don't fancy a change of formation. Feels like something that could go badly wrong. I really wish we had reserve full backs - yes, Valery may not be brilliant but would surely be better than JS.

derbydog added 13:39 - Feb 19
Anyone agree with me that JWP looks like he needs a rest?

wibbersda added 13:39 - Feb 19
If Stevens plays a part expect Chelsea to target him

SanMarco added 13:50 - Feb 19
Yep derbydog - but he won't get one.

codge added 14:35 - Feb 19
Anyone but Stephens at right back please he can’t cover the pitch or recover to be back in position when he gets beat.

sandywelsh added 15:25 - Feb 19
Its got to be Ramsay at right back if we want to have a chance of getting any points out of this game, Stephens must not be on the pitch. I would like Forster to start in goal to.

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