|Southampton 1 v 1 Chelsea|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 20th February 2021 Kick-off 12:30
Southampton V Chelsea The Preview
Friday, 19th Feb 2021 17:10
When you are on a run o six straight Premier League defeats, perhaps the last team you want to come up against are a Chelsea side who have won four on the bounce in the league, but sometimes victories come when you have your backs to the wall.
It cannot be denied that at the moment it seems that all the bad karma Saints have racked up over the past year or so has arrived to kick them up the rear end at the same time, injuries, suspensions, poor refereeing, individual errors and atrocious VAR decisions are bad enough when you get each one in isolation, but at the moment it seems that in every game we play we get at least 4 out of 5, if we are very lucky just 3.
So perhaps Saints are due that slice of luck soon, lets hope so.
But a time of writing whilst admitting Saints have 5 players definitely out of the game through injury with 3 of them in Ibrahima Diallo, Kyle Walker Peters and Theo Walcott have been certain to play some part, Ralph hasenhuttl has hinted that there may be another player or two in his squad doubtful although he stopped short of naming them.
Hopefully he is just trying to play down the game and lull Chelsea into a sense of false security.
But the manager has other decisions to make and the first is in goal, a week ago we pondered the question whether it was time to bring Fraser Forster back into the starting line up and the answer was that Ralph stuck with Alex McCarthy, but he again was found wanting when he conceded the second goal against Wolves last weekend, it wasn't the first time he had been beaten at his near post whilst sinking to his knee and doing little to try and stop it and surely Ralph knows that McCarthy is not in good form, he has given him the chance to play through a bad patch but it's getting worse not better.
The next question is who to play at right back Jack Stephens would be an obvious replacement if we stick with 4-4-2, but I have a feeling that there could be a change in the strategy, I would not be surprised if Ralph went with three at the back, Bednarek, Vestgaard & Salisu, with Armstrong & Bertrand effectively wing backs.
Then a central trio of Oriol Romeu & JWP as the holding players with Minamino just in front.
Up front Danny Ings partnering Che Adams.
That would leave options on the bench in Stephens, Redmond, Djenpo so that there is experienced cover in all areas and then several youngsters to make up the rest of the bench.
We just have to break this awful run, no one can odds the bad luck we have had, but it is not all about that, poor decision making has also cost us defensively and if we can cut that out that is half the battle.
We seem to try to always pass our way out of every situation , but when you get closed down sometimes you have t put your foot through the ball and clear your lines, we just don't seem able to do that at the moment.
But in Ralph Hasenhuttl we trust, at some time the injury tide will turn and we will get back into form, hopefully that will be in time for the Bournemouth FA Cup quarter final, but in the meantime we just have to get back to basics and grind out results.
Sometimes a win happens in extraordinary circumstances, perhaps the game against Chelsea will be one of them, but if it isn't we pick ourselves up and go again, this is a strange season and every club seems to lose a few and then win a few.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Friday night football – can’t beat it. Gives you that feelgood factor all weekend, sitting back to enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon watching others fail in your wake. Of course, you have to win first, which we’ve been struggling to do for a while now, so be prepared for the possibility of a miserable weekend just in case. We share this evening with Reading v AFC Bournemouth, albeit they kick-off an hour later than we do. In the real world, leaders of the UK’s five largest business groups have written to Boris demanding action on the substantial difficulties they are facing over Brexit bureaucracy, whilst French border authorities are reporting that two-thirds of lorries arriving from the UK are empty (i.e. no exports leaving the UK). Still, at least the NHS can enjoy their extra £350m per week…
Letters from Wiltshire #29 by wessex_exile
Looks like some around the world have started 2021 a bit cross. Never mind the attempted insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month, those normally laid-back Dutch have now been rioting for three nights running about the imposition of a night-time curfew to try and curb the spread of coronavirus. Farmers in Delhi have stormed through police lines and breached the Red Fort in protest against market reforms, and tragic Somalia has just passed the 30th anniversary of their ongoing civil war. In brighter news, President Biden has immediately begun dismantling and/or reversing some of Trump’s more contentious decisions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, renewed funding for the World Health Organisation, revoking the ‘Muslim travel ban’, defunding the border wall, rescinding Trump’s report calling for a ‘more patriotic’ syllabus in schools, and overturning the ban on transgender people serving in the military.
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