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Southampton At Cardiff City The Pre Season Verdict
Wednesday, 28th Jul 2021 09:35

Saints pre season stepped up a notch as they travelled to South Wales for a training camp and the first of two friendly fixtures in the Principality, again the team was split as Ralph Hasenhuttl looked to get his team back in the groove.

The tactics were a little different for the game against Cardiff City on Tuesday evening and it seems that Ralph's tactics were still to give most of his squad a game, but with a difference from Saturday when he put out a different team in each half.

For this game his starting line up stayed on for 62 minutes before he made an change and it seems that this will be repeated on Saturday when we play Swansea City but with some of those on the bench starting.

Missing though were both James Ward Prowse & Stuart Armstrong who had minor knocks.

One area that he did keep for 90 minutes throughout the game was his goalkeeper and Fraser Forster had to make several good saves in the first half to thwart a lively home side.

Saints took the lead in the 38th minute when good work from Michael Obafemi saw him find Theo Walcott in the box who put the visitors ahead with a cool finish.

Forster had to be alert as the Bluebirds pushed forward in response to the opener but it was 1-0 at the break.

The second half started well for Saints with 5 minutes gone when Salisu headed home, but the linesman's flag ruled it out.

Forster again had to be on his toes a few minutes later when he dived to his right to push out a good effort from the home side, the good thing was he got the ball out of the danger area rather than parried it into the path of onrushing Cardiff players.

Just after the hour mark came 7 changes and the pattern of the game stepped up a little ,with Cardiff looking to give their side a little more game time, suddenly Saints had a lot of fresh legs and within minutes Moussa Djenepo had struck, getting the ball running at the defence and hitting a curling shot into the keepers top left corner, some would say very similar to his goal at Brighton two years ago.

Cardiff made their changes with 20 minutes to go, but they seemed to make them lose their pattern and it was soon 3-0 to Saints, this time from Che Adams who played through by Nathan Tella dinked the ball over the keeper and into the net, the goal looking even better with the addition of a desperate defender trying to stop the ball crossing the line and ending up tangled in the back of the net.

It was the Tella/Ings combination again for the fourth, Saints cleared a cardiff attack and Adams held the ball up deep in his own half and laid it to Tella, both players then ran at the Cardiff defences before Tella laid it sweetly to Adams who rounded the Cardiff keeper and slotted the ball home.

It could have been 5 with the final kick of the game, Tella was through but put his shot an inch wide with the final whistle going before the goal kick could be taken.

A good performance from Saints but nobody should get too carried away, pre season fixtures are not good barometers for the Premier League season, but there were some heartening performances.

Fraser Forster looked big strong and confident, Moussa Djenepo looked lively and showed that he knows how to take on a player and score goals, if he can recapture his early performances for the club on a consistent level he could be a threat this season.

Nathan Tella looks to have pace that can frighten defenders and he seems to be maturing in using the ball.

Che Adams took his chances well and it should be noted that as vital as Danny Ings goals were last season, Che Adams only had 3 less in the Premier League , his Scotland caps seem to have added a swagger that all strikers need to truly reach their potential.

So we need to be cautious after this victory, but we can take some positive points from it, there are some who would say that the squad is not good enough, I am not denying that we do need a new face or two, but as it stands at the moment it is stronger than a year ago and we genuinely have a player or two who could step their game up a notch.

Photo: Action Images

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DPeps added 10:46 - Jul 28
The only certainty we can take from these friendlies is that Ralph's sartorial choices have been bold and wonderful

highfield49 added 11:40 - Jul 28
Players looked fit and sharp from watching the highlights. I can't see any reason as to why Forster shouldn't be first choice now and hopefully the swapping keeper experiment can be put to rest. Present indication is that Djenepo is being prepared as a back up if Perraud is unavailable and, whilst there might be a few doubts about his defensive talents, it makes sense from a financial perspective. With Salisu also able to cover on the left of defence maybe the decision has been made to watch Vokins progress before adding cover in that position. Valery seems to have settled whatever differences he had and although a couple of incoming players wouldn't be a surprise Tella and Adams look to be forming a decent understanding up front. Personally I wouldn't swap either of them for the likes of Tammy Abraham, who appears to be rated at £40m but has never impressed me as a consistent finisher. So pleased to see that Lemina has officially departed and the signing of Simeu finalised as well.

underweststand added 16:52 - Jul 28
OK - it was a practice game against a Championship side BUT we looked very positive in the second half highlights and with barely half of the "usual " starting side from last season, it was very encouraging.
Tella looked a real live wire and Che Adams putting away two nice goals with that " Ings panache" we have become used to from Danny. Bit strange seeing Djenepo playing at LB , but hopefully he can DAJFU wherever he plays. If we hold onto Elyounoussi this season maybe he can make a valuable contribution.
If we can hold this sort of form in the upcoming practice games, perhaps we can carry it over to the Prem. and pick up some valuable points despite the " horrific fixtures" we have in early season.

Peterx added 18:16 - Jul 28
Cardiff away has never been easy for us, and it looked in the first half highlights that we were scrambling a bit, but given we did not have our first choice CB pairing and also no JWP it was highly encouraging we did not concede.

Going forward we looked a real handful with Tella and Adams standing out, but also with Obafemi and Walcott combining for the all important first goal.

Key that RH shows an ability to change shape to a Plan B (back 3?) midgame for times where we will need to do this against better opposition, obviously difficult to work out if there were changes of shape from 5 mins of highlights.

All in all highly encouraging.

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