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Southampton V Leicester City FA Cup Semi Final Preview
Sunday, 18th Apr 2021 08:32

Here we are one of those rare days in our history when we are in sight of glory, can Saints overcome the Foxes and set a date to return to Wembley and meet Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May ! Here we take a look at our chances.

As a Saints supporter there have been very few occasions over the years when we have had a chance at glory, so I look at this game as something to enjoy and savour, of course we want to win, but there is honour in defeat and whichever way it goes it is a step forward in Southampton Football Club being considered a club that can challenge.

We have met Leicester only once so far this season and on that occasion we lost up in the East Midlands 2-0, but it wasn't a one sided game and Saints had their chances succumbing to a soft 37th minute goal that really should have seen goalkeeper Alex McCarthy do better and then got caught in possession pushing forward in injury time and the Foxes killed off any lingering hopes of a late equaliser.

So we should not fear Leicester, they will of course start as favourites, but as we saw at Wembley yesterday in the first semi of the weekend, being favourites is no guarantee of winning

Ralph Hasenhuttl will of course be worried about the lack of spirit showed against West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening, but he will take some sort of heart in the fact that most of his team had an off day and clearly their minds were on the semi final, so he will feel that the issues from Monday can be fixed.

So what line up will Saints put out ?

Ralph has to make some changes in my opinion, but they will be limited, the man whose place is most under pressure in my opinion is Theo Walcott, since his return the Everton loanee has struggled to find form, for me too many times he makes runs but there hasn't been an end product, he seems to lose control too often and give away possession, yes he did put in an exquisite cross for Nathan Redmond's winner against Burnley, but that has literally been the only contribution of note.

Walcott can still have a big part to play this season, but I feel for this one it should be from the bench.

So who should replace him ?

If Ralph does make this change who comes in, in my view he has two options, drop Nathan Redmond back to the wing and bring in Che Adams up front or make a direct swap for Moussa Djenepo.

My choice would be to bring in Adams, the Scotland striker was in fine form whilst Danny Ings was out and also had formed a good partnership with him earlier in the season.

I think that should be our only change, I'm not totally happy with the way the back line is set up, but this is not the game to try something different.

Perhaps the key will lie on the bench, if Ralph does go with my preferred line up, then we have potential game changers on the bench in Theo Walcott and Moussa Djenepo and I just have the feeling that this game might see Djenepo emerge as the hero.

If it is an unchanged side then we have Adams as an option off the bench, we can win this game.

But as i banged on about for most of last season, we will have to rely on the luck going with us, our defence has been awful in the last few games, Jannik Vestergaard seems to have gone back to being the player he was in his first two seasons, we need a few slices of luck as these days we always give the opposition a soft chance.

So this will be a tough game, but it is a winnable one and we are due some luck, not just this season but stretching back several decades in the FA Cup.

But the main thing is that our team goes out there with spirit, determination, concentration and belief, if it does then perhaps we will reach our first Wembley FA Cup final since 1976.

From the fans point of view enjoy it, immerse yourself in the game and the occasion, look to be able to praise the usual suspects rather than relish pulling them to pieces, this game is a ray of light in a season that early on promised so much and has fallen away due to some circumstances beyond our control, I am not saying that everything was rosy and the only factor was injuries and bad refereeing, but there was a bigger percentage of those things than is normal.

So here we go, if you can't get excited when your team gets to an FA Cup semi final then what is the point of supporting a football team !

Photo: Action Images

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Foreverred added 09:06 - Apr 18
Good article nick if we stick with the same back four, then the only change would be for me, Adams or djenepo, I will still go with djenepo for Walcott because his work rate has improved, and we will need that extra commitment against the lively foxes. We can still bring Adams on say 70mins so he can make an impact. This is a one off game which could define our season, we have the ability to win this,but we need total commitment from everyone. Semi final are usually tight affairs , and it’s time for hero’s in 76 it was stokes, channon, Steele. Today we have ings,vestigaard,Forster, to fit the bill. Ralph needs to get their mind set right, forget Monday fiasco, this is the one that matters and we can do it.

paddypants added 09:06 - Apr 18
Nick, would you agree that Ralph missed a trick by not giving certain fringe players a game last week?
Djneppo Tella , Adams to an extent mismanaged in my opinion.
A trick was missed by not having a chance to play themselves into contention.
Fingers crossed he has got it right?

WestSussexSaint added 10:02 - Apr 18
Adams for Walcott is a must change. Adams has done nothing wrong ti have started on the bench in the last few games and has arguably been the fall guy for the return of Ings and Walcott, and the recent form improvement from Redmond. Walcott should drop to the bench. I would argue that his dip in form has not only seen less cutting edge but also he isn’t protecting KWP which we saw WBA exploit time and again on Monday.

I would put Redmond on the left with Armstrong on the right. Djenepo played well when coming off the bench but I think he is less effective when starting so it would be useful to have him and Walcott as impact subs if needed. The back 6 pick themselves at the moment as does Forster in goal.

I agree with Nick that Saints should not fear Leicester but the are going to have to be committed 100% otherwise Leicester have very good players that can pick us apart.

The incentive is there. The players and the manager now have to execute.

sandywelsh added 10:56 - Apr 18
Adams must start today with Walcott on the bench. I would only give Redmond until half time to see how much impact he makes. If not alot then would replace him with Djenepo. If we get a penalty it must be taken by Danny Ings.

wibbersda added 11:07 - Apr 18
Please Ralph if we get ahead shut up shop for a change.

UgandaSaint added 12:49 - Apr 18
I will be in a state of shock if Ralph changes anyone from the WBA shambles, an even greater state of shock if he changes tactics to cope with Vardy. We will play 4-2-2-2 high press for 45 minutes and then look knackered. Come on you Reds, especially Walcott, you owe us a performance.

SaintPaulVW added 13:49 - Apr 18
Need to plug the right hand side, which is where teams seem to have decided to attack in recent weeks. Djenepo looks to have improved this aspect of his game. So start him in front of KWP.

Rest of the team stay as it is. Walcott and Adams on as appropriate.

COYR fingers crossed.

SanMarco added 15:53 - Apr 18
Yes - I am going to enjoy the game. They owe us one after WBA and I am sure there will be no lack of effort. Leicester are favourites because they are a better side than us but ditto for the League Cup semi vs Liverpool a couple of years back. I thought we had no chance and I was wrong.

It is understandable that there is an air of resignation among a fair few Saints fans at the moment but, as Nick says, this IS winnable. It may be 60-40 in Leicester's favour but 40 is quite a big proportion of 100 !!!

Come on you Saints...

underweststand added 16:12 - Apr 18
Yes I know we can only take one game at a time, but if we needed any encouragement , the prospect of facing Chelsea in the Final is IMHO ...a tad better than a game v. Man City.

Somehow the prospect of coming up against Leicester is more a mental challenge than a footballing one. Aside from " that game ", I don't see them as a side that much better than Saints - If we play well on the day.

ElijahK added 20:33 - Apr 18
Look most of us really do like Ralph, I mean his personality, his style, him getting us top etc but questions really need to be asked now as like 2 wins in like 17 games, no FA Cup glory along with another 9-0...
I mean today his sub use was basically exactly what most of us would’ve expected/wanted and I don’t really think his tactics were that off, but when you’ve won 2 I’m 17 and have an FA Cup semi-final with the opposing getting only one shot on target compared to your 0 questions need to be asked!
Although is it just Ralph!? I mean when you look at our squad is it really that great, as our owner has done bugger all for us and has made us one of the very few clubs to have a profited net spend and ever since Koeman left it’s always been the same!
So what I can say for a fact is that SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE! Whether it’s our owner or manager or both I don’t know, but it’s getting to a point where something must!

ElijahK added 20:37 - Apr 18
It seems like with Hasenhurtle we always have one great part to the season with the rest being shit! When he joined it was just our end to the season, last season it was the restart part (and maybe around Christmas as well) and this season it was the start of the season! I mean is this down to the quality of our squad, it’s depth or just him!?

sandywelsh added 20:45 - Apr 18
Yet Another Poor Peformance.
Perhaps Spurs might have their minds on their cup final next Sunday and we might be able to beat them on Wednesday.

Boris1977 added 20:49 - Apr 18
Is there a silver lining to the pain we've had to suffer over the past 4 months? Pathetic and embarrassing again.

Like many of us I was worried how badly we were going to get thumped. At least it was only 1-0.

I wonder if we have set a record by not having one shot on target in a cup semi final?

I'm exhausted.

SaintPaulVW added 21:01 - Apr 18
Not going to win anything if we couldn't get a single shot on target.


codge added 21:05 - Apr 18
Bad luck with the goal but we never got going apart for a few minutes at the start of the second half.You have to show more ambition than what we showed for more than 10 minutes as the rest of the game we really never looked threatening at all, our midfielders didn’t give the two up front very much service at all, so all in all very disappointing for a semifinal game from us.

Foreverred added 21:09 - Apr 18
Very disappointing ,I really thought we give it a good go today, but unfortunately we were more interested in containing them without taking the game to them. When you play a rearguard defensive Game you nullified any real threat going forward. Ings and redmond were mostly anonymous . In all honesty Leicester were not that great either, but the one clear cut chance they got they made us paid,And you knew it would be down walker peters wing, great player going forward, but gets caught out of position to often ,and benarek was no match for vardy pace even so we still made it easy for their scorer with a unlucky rebound of vestigaard. you have to believe you can win it, but too many of our players failed to turn up and give it a real go today, and our chance for cup final place was gone.

SanMarco added 22:39 - Apr 18
I actually thought Ralph got it right in the first half. Dull, edgy, poor match with Leicester hardly creating chance after chance. Semis aren't about entertainment so we should have done the same for the second half. Instead we push forward and within 5 mins we lose the ball up the pitch and down the wing Vardey goes, game over (courtesy of a lucky rebound). The longer that game went on as an edgy, nervy, 0-0 the more chance we had.

If you'd asked Rodgers at half time what he would like the Saints to do at the start of the second half he would have chosen exactly what we did do. I know what I am saying is boring and unentertaining but at half time I had a sneaky feeling that as long as we kept it tight (or as tight as we are capable of) we might just have a chance. Instead we opened our vulnerable flank up and lost the game.

Appalling ref - Diallo yellow card and then five Leicester fouls just as bad with nothing at all then not giving their guy a second yellow for that assault on Ings.

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