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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.

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ElijahK added 12:13 - Oct 27
As much as do definitely think McCarthy is a better keeper, Forster was great yesterday. But still, I’d play McCarthy for Watford but if he doesn’t perform well again, then I don’t see why Forster shouldn’t play against Villa.
With Lyanco though, he was amazing yesterday, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him playing on Saturday, but then again I’d understand if he kept with Bednerak, but like with the Forster scenario, if Bednerak doesn’t perform against Villa then I’d certainly expect to see Lyanco against Villa.
So personally I don’t care which of them he picks for Saturday (other than Walcott who was the only sub Ralph messed up with yesterday, and shouldn't be anywhere near the team again for quite some time) as they’ve all got a right to play, but if some were to not perform then he should change things up.
Although I also though Walker-Peters was great yet again yesterday, and playing Livermento as the left back and him on the right was actually pretty decent, so maybe he should try that.

saint22 added 12:21 - Oct 27
Like many selections its blatantly clear Forster should be 1st choice but for some reason Ralph cannot see it?! same as the KWP behind Tino issue and then endlessly picking Walcott. It would show great management skills to accept FF should start Saturday.....lets ee
As for Lyanco, agree he looks very good and I dont think he can do any worse than Bednarek who has looked oddly off the pace tis season since he came back in
Again has Ralph got that in him?

I_would added 13:28 - Oct 27
Bednarek, McCarthy and WP will play. Lyanco, Forster and Diallo should play but won't. Ralph is easy to second guess with the team selections but leaves you scratching your head with subs.

WestSussexSaint added 13:28 - Oct 27
Nick are you plagiarising my comments from the Chelsea match verdict article? If you want me to be a contributor to the site just ask ;)

zonehead added 13:58 - Oct 27
Chapter 1
I can run fast
The End

SonicBoom added 16:06 - Oct 27
I think it would be odd to see him change the backline to that extent.
In pre season we are told we need to practice patterns and bed players in etc. Then Lyanco has one good game and we suddenly drop everything and play 3 centre backs?

I'm not saying he shouldnt play, I'm saying maybe going to an entirely new system to accommodate him seems risky. Easier just to drop Bednarek.

TimSaint added 17:05 - Oct 27
He has got far more than 2 big decisions to make for Watford.

Recall JWP or not
Start Stu Armstrong or not
Drop Walcott / Redmond etc
Recall Adams / A Armstrong

We made 9 changes last night, so many have been rested and others have impressed, so I am expecting a performance. Let's hope we face the Watford that played Liverpool, rather than the one that played Everton.


halftimeorange added 17:20 - Oct 27
Ralph is damned if he does make too many changes and they don't come off and damned if he doesn't and Saints drop more points against Watford. We need points now. I can't see Ralph tinkering too much with the Burnley line-up because we aren't letting in too many goals. Lyanco for Bednarek is a possibility and somebody (probably Armstrong S) for Walcott must surely happen but, I would think that's about all. If Walcott plays up front and has another stinker and Saints lose, then the 'Ralph out' chorus will become louder. Playing Walcott has been a bad experiment and Theo should be dropped.

SaintPaulVW added 17:29 - Oct 27
I can't see Ralph making too many changes from the side that started against Burnley, possibly KWP for Perraud and Stu A for Theo.

Safety first at the 2 key defensive positions, so no change at CB or GK.

However, based on the performances last night, Lyanco and Forster deserve some game time soon.

highfield49 added 09:11 - Oct 28
As Salisu is almost certainly going to be involved in AFCON in December then Lyanco needs to play more games, particularly as Jack Stephens is highly unlikely to be available. Provided that Lyanco is fit enough to play two games consecutively he should start at Watford in my view.
I agree with the majority opinion that Forster should also start at Watford but absolutely no surprise if McCarthy is in the team. Impossible to argue for any participation by Walcott but I think KWP and Valery should both be picked ahead of Stu Armstrong on present form. Armstrong has lost his fitness and/or motivation for whatever reason and looks more like a late game substitution than a starter at present.
Whatever team is picked at the weekend, once again, I have to say full credit to the scouting team who have recruited Livramento, KWP, Lyanco and Salisu plus Broja on loan. We've also got Perraud at left back, to replace Bertrand, and Small from Everton likely to step up soon. If Adam Armstrong also fully realises his potential then that is an amazing group of talented players to take the club forward.

janecook added 13:02 - Oct 28
As Ronald Koeman has now been sacked as head coach of Barcelona how many Saints fans would welcome him back to manage Southampton?

underweststand added 15:56 - Oct 28
There are many who think that Ralph just Xerox-copy's his team sheet every game and indeed it may look like that, but his first choice players who are playing all this " good football" is still not yielding wins, (in part to the lack of goals and in part leaking in goals).
Redmond still blows hot and cold (as does Walcott and Djenepo) and KWP will have to wait until Livramento plays a bad game before getting his next call-up.

Bednarek has many assets, but he lacks real pace (something that Lyanco showed well at Chelsea) and in a squad game you should always pick the in-form players.
The massive team changes made on Tuesday still produced a team that fought Chelsea to a standstill over 94 minutes. Even Chelsea's "B team" was packed full with internationals (..I lost count after 50 caps..) and they still couldn't beat us in normal time.

We all know that McCarthy is Ralph's first choice, and although he has improved this season, he still doesn't convince me, and when buying another keeper next year, he is still likely to find himself as our second choice. IMHO we ought to make the best of Forster's huge salary cost and use him as/when before his contract runs out.

So; keep Forster for another game, and a win or clean sheet would earn him even more.
Lyanco was outstanding v. Chelsea and he deserves another chance against the type of fast-moving /physical side that Watford always seem to field.

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