|Leeds United 3 v 0 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021 Kick-off 18:00
Southampton At Leeds United The Preview
Tuesday, 23rd Feb 2021 11:50
Saints travel up to Elland Road hoping to win a Premier League game for the first time in 8 outings, once again we have injury issues, but then again so do Leeds, can Saints win and leapfrog the home side and back up to 12th in the table.
The winless run has been a worry, but unlike some of our winless runs in the past there are mitigating circumstances, when Saints lost 8 of their first 11 Premier League fixtures, winning only one and drawing 2 of the other 3, that was a worry as we weren't in an injury crisis, this was our full first team squad failing badly to adapt to the Premier League.
But this crisis is different, we have so many injuries and not just in general but in key areas.
But we have turned a corner, we have players back from injury and the emergence of Mohammed Salisu is finally an addition to the squad as in Minamino who has only joined in the last three weeks.
So although the injury crisis is still critical. it has eased and that showed against Chelsea where although we were understandably on the back foot, we remained solid and held our shape and deserved a draw.
Now is the time to start to kick on with confidence, the latest stat being banded about is the one that says we have lost the dropped the most points from winning positions, of course this is not a great stat, but its a better one than just losing games as it shows we have the ability to score.
But there is a reason for this and of late it is due to the fact that we have no options off the bench at the moment , we run ourselves into the ground and then have no one we can bring on for fresh legs.
Back in the tail end of last year, we did have options, Ibrahima Diallo for example, but we haven't had that of late.
It has been a bad run, but the Manchester United game was the only one where we were actually poor, but even that had mitigating circumstances with a squad down to the bare bones as well as two sending offs and poor Var decisions not affecting the score but certainly the result.
We go to Leeds tonight still five men down, but now Ralph does have some options to change things as he did on Saturday against Chelsea.
The first question though is does he keep the formation against Chelsea or does he make a few changes.
It will be interesting to see what he does at the back, will he keep the back three and if so does he swap Moussa Djenepo for Stuart Armstrong or will be revert to a back four with Jan Bednarek playing as a right back, again he has to choose if Armstrong comes back to the side and who he replaces.
In many respects Leeds are a team that will suit us, they attack in numbers and are vulnerable on the break.
They concede goals at an alarming rate and only West Brom have conceded more.
Our goals against column isn't great, but take out that United game and we are in the top half of Premier League defences, so we are a better defence than our goals against column suggests.
The trick will be like the Chelsea game, we have to deal with them coming at us in waves, but unlike Saturday when we get the ball we will have the chance to use it more and catch them on the back foot,
So there is plenty of things to be confident about going into this fixture and we are stronger than we were a month ago with the arrival o Minamino and the emergence of Salisu.
But the main issue will be that conceding second half goals problem, we are going to have to work hard in midfield and in the centre we have no one who could replace either JWP or Romeu as they tire in the later stages.
Ralph will have to urge his troops on and say one big effort and then we have 6 days off and that is a rare event these days.
Some fans have been worrying about relegation, we are far from that position at the moment, we should be looking upwards, personally I am not bothered about League position, there is a log jam, I want to see us reach Wembley firstly in the semi and hopefully in the final, yes it won't be the occasion that we would hope for, but the record books will not record that, If we are to win a trophy I would gladly give up supporters being there for the chance to do it.
But firstly we have to take every game as it comes, there are 14 games left and in the league we need to win 2 of them and that along with a couple of draws would guarantee safety , but we do want better than that and a win against Leeds would be the first step back to winning ways.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Letters from Wiltshire #42 by wessex_exile
Well, these sure are strange times at Colchester United, particularly for a club (nor a Chairman) not usually associated with the ‘managerial revolving door’ approach. With results not matching expectations or even minimum requirements, and a brief spell after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Wayne Brown has been released to return to the Jammers, for whenever their pandemic-interrupted football restarts. In comes not one, or two, but three new ‘appointments’. Hayden Mullins steps up as Head Coach to the end of the season, Joe Dunne apparently comes back to the U’s in a sort of unofficial coaching/ team-spirit sort of role, and exceptionally experienced lower-league former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale arrives to provide Hayden with advice and support – crikey!
Letters from Wiltshire #41 by wessex_exile
This afternoon the U’s take on Bradford City in a bid to gather sufficient points to stay clear of the bottom two. It’ll be a tough gig though, even if (as I suspect) Bradford City have left it a bit too late to challenge the play-off spots. They were on a decent run of form, that is until defeats at Newport, Carlisle, Scunthorpe and a goalless draw at home to Oldham put paid to any lingering promotion hopes. For us, it’s simple, to stay out of the bottom two, for all intents and purposes we only need to gain half (or more) of the points that Grimsby or Southend do. Sounds easy, just wish I felt more confident we will…
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