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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