|Southampton 2 v 2 Burnley|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 23rd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Burnley The Preview
Friday, 22nd Oct 2021 09:19
Burnley have been a little bit of a bogey side for Saints in the past few years with their style of play, but can Saints show they have adapted their own style this season and can forge a win against the Lancashire side and in doing so surge away from the relegation zone.
After a tough 8 games to start the season that saw them earn 7 points, now Saints have a run of four game against teams down in the bottom third of the season and the task will be to come out of those fixtures with a reasonable amount of points, the target would be 8 points, but if Saints can burst into life up front it could be more.
First up in the quartet is Burnley, a side whom we have struggles with in the past few years, although last season did see us beat them both home and away.
Burnley like to keep it tight at the back and play the ball quickly forward and rely on the big men at set pieces to try and bully defences, we have struggled against teams like this and too often we get caught on the break or in lapses of concentration.
Wolves last month was an example of this where they sat back and caught us on the break, but when Leeds tried the same tactics a week ago, they found a more disciplined Saints side who in the main never gave them a sniff.
This will be a stronger challenge though, Leeds were a side lacking in spirit and could struggle this season, we hit them at just the right time and now we have to repeat that job with Burnley.
We know what we are going to get, they will get men behind the ball and pump it forward and try to catch us on the back foot, they did this last year at St Mary's racing into a two goal lead in 28 minutes, before we got our act together and won the game 3-2.
That showed that Saints had spirit and we again have showed that in the opening fixtures this season, we might have come up against clubs with bigger and supposedly better squads, but what we lacked in quality we more than made up for in spirit.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has some thinking to do before the game with regards to his line up, at the back I think he will stay pretty much the same, but the real questions are in the midfield and up front.
Does he keep the same formation as last week which saw a 4 man midfield and a single attacker in Armando Broja with Nathan Redmond in a more free role, or does he revert back to a more usual for the Austrian 4-4-2 and bring back either Che Adams or Adam Armstrong to partner the Albanian from Slough.
Either way he also has to look at his wide options, Moussa Djenepo and Moi Elyounoussi looked good at times, but at other times did not influence the game as you would want your wide men to do.
So Ralph has options, the first would be to revert to 4-4-2 with Nathan Redmond on the left and one of Adams or Adam Armstrong up front, that would leave a dilemma on the right, should he bring back Stuart Armstrong from the start, or keep him on the bench for late on when he might need to either chase the game, or have the experience of the Scot to keep it tight as he did against Leeds.
Against Leeds we got the tactics right, we knew it would be tough to break them down and when we did we battened down the hatches ourselves.
Ralph will look at the side and consider that in the wide positions he has plenty of options but only one has truly delivered and that is Nathan Redmond, flying runs and fancy dribbles are fine but you have to have an end product and that means getting in shots, crosses and creating chances for others, so far this season only Redmond has done that as in his role in the Newcastle comeback, the Leeds game and also Manchester City where his ball should have seen Saints take the lead either through Adam Armstrong putting the ball away or a penalty.
Moussa Djeepo, Moi Elyounoissi and Theo Walcott each have different attributes in their style of play, but the reality is that none have truly altered the course of a game and Ralph hasenhuttl will be well aware of it, we look good going forward at times, but there are not enough clear chances created.
Nathan Tella is another option who Ralph looks ready to unleash again, in the tough opening 8 where disciplined play and experience was needed he stuck with those with that experience, but Tella surely should be able to step up the pecking order above Elounoussi, Djenepo and Walcott.
I am not rubbishing this trio, they all have a part to play this season, but none have done enough and more importantly when they have they have not done it with consistency.
But it is a good dilemma to have.
Up front Ralph will have been glad to see that Armado Broja has scored his debut Premier league goal, reading between the lines it seems that the Austrian has felt that Broja has come to the South Coast with the wrong attitude and that had to be changed, perhaps the Albanian from Slough thought that being a Chelsea player was a little above Saints and hadn't put the work in, certainly Ralph saw him as more of an impact player than a starter, perhaps tellingly so did Albania and to be frank if you can't get in their side there is something strange going on.
But Broja seems to have worked hard and the manager's kidology worked, strikers thrive on goals and now he has one he could go on a run.
Che Adams was injured for the Leeds game, but he is proven at this level now and will be good for 9-10 goals this season, he will be chomping at the bit and with the confidence that comes from playing regular international football could well be the surprise package this season.
Adam Armstrong has not played badly, he is a livewire and a handful, but he has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, he has wanted an extra touch and been caught by a defender when he should have got a shot away, but this will come with experience.
Dropping him last week will have taken him out of the firing line and hopefully given him a shot up the rear end and spurred him on to work harder, strikers hate sitting on benches and watching their team waste chances, Armstrong and for that matter Adams will be dying to get on the field against Burnley.
This is another crucial game for Saints, having done the hard work against Leeds and in those opening 8 games, we now have to kick on, if we sent Sean Dyche back to Lancashire pointless, then we will be putting daylight between us and the bottom 3, lose and we are right back down there with them and all the good work undone.
This is the first of four tough games against sides who we are looking to finish above this season, we need to get points on the board and show the doubters that although there is still a lot of work to do, we have the foundations in place to have a good season and indeed many more to come.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.
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