Two Big Decisions For Ralph Hasenhuttl Ahead Of The Trip To Watford
Wednesday, 27th Oct 2021 10:28
Ralph Hasenhuttl has a few selection decisions to make when he takes his Southampton team up to Watford on Saturday, the biggest two being who plays in goal and the centre of defence.
When speaking about Saints gutsy performance at Chelsea last night, there will be those who will say that it was a much changed Chelsea team we were facing, that is fine in that they were facing a much changed Saints team and to be blunt Chelsea's 2nd side are a match for many Premier League first team's, how many of Watford's side would have got in Chelsea's side last night ?
So Ralph has selection dilemmas for Saturday and he also has two biggies, should Fraser Forster retain his place in goal ahead of Alex McCarthy and should summer signing Lyanco stay in ahead of Jan Bednarek.
In goal it is a tricky one, Alex McCarthy got the nod at the start of the season ahead of Forster despite the fact that Forster had shown better form not only in pre season but in the second half of last season.
It was a controversial choice and initially it looked to be the wrong call as McCarthy didn't enjoy the best of times in the opening three games, conceding 6 goals and although none were glaring errors, you just had the feeling that he should have done better on several of them.
But he turned it round after that and had been fairly solid since.
Fraser Forster has been the keeper for the League Cup games and looked like he has his confidence back and he showed that last night with a performance that was up there with his best a few years ago, he made several tremendous saves, but more than that looked alert and confident, coming off his line and out of his penalty area to claim and clear balls.
It was the best goalkeeping performance in any competition this season and it leaves Ralph in with a decision to make.
I think he will stick with McCarthy purely from the perspective he has done little wrong in the past few games, but is that a good enough reason, some would say you play your best man in any given position, yes goalkeeper is a specialist area and you shouldn't chop or change, but Forster is a better keeper than McCarthy, so some would say that after last night's performance he should be in.
As I say I think on this one Ralph will stick, but it ups the ante on the goalkeeping spot, McCarthy cannot afford any mistakes or he will find himself on the bench.
The second big decision is in the centre of defence, Mohammed Salisu has made himself first choice of all our central defenders this season, but who should partner him, Jan Bednarek has been back in the side, but although he has been ok, he has lacked something of previous years, he seems to get brushed off the ball a bit, something that would not have happened in previous seasons.
Whether suddenly finding himself out of the side for Jack Stephens dented his confidence I don't know, but he is missing a little fire from previous years.
This time yesterday no one would have predicted the performance that Lyanco would put in at Chelsea, indeed most would not recognise him in the street with his only appearance coming up at Sheffield United, a game in which he did look a little off the pace at times, although those there said he looked ok just needed a little more experience.
At Stamford Bridge Last night he was immense, he was everything that you want from a central defender, he had strength, he had pace, he commanded the back line and he had fight and spirit, he refused to be beaten, at one time he celebrated winning a throw in in a tight situation as if he had just scored.
He is a player with experience having at 24 played around 80 games in Serie A as well as in Brazil, the only question was really the language barrier, which does not seem to have been a problem last night.
I think more that that of the goalkeeping position this is one thing that Ralph does have to consider very seriously and it is a hard one to call, although it could be that he could now revert to a back three with three contrasting players in Lyanco, Salisu & Bednarek who all offer different things, that could enable him to push the full backs forward as wing backs something that would suit all of Livramento, Perraud and Walker Peters as well as enabling us to have a tight midfield with two forwards.
So I think that on Saturday Lyanco may well keep his place, but it might not be at the expense of Bednarek but alongside him and Salisu.
Either way it is a good thing to see that we are now starting to get options in the side a 3-2-3-2 formation would see us able to get forward a little quicker and give the service to the forwards that has been missing this season.
So big decisions for Ralph Hasenhuttl, tough ones but I'm sure he would prefer these than at the beginning of this year when he was having to decide which academy players would top up the team and make up the bench.
Photo: Action Images
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