|Southampton 2 v 2 Leicester City|
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 1st December 2021 Kick-off 19:30
Southampton V Leicester City The Preview
Wednesday, 1st Dec 2021 09:23
After two straight defeats Saints need to get back to winning ways this week with two home games in a row starting tonight with Leicester City,, the problem is in the last few seasons the Foxes have been a bit of a bogey side at home.
The last time Saints beat Leicester at home was in January 2017 and even though it was a comprehensive 3-0 win the game had repercussions for Southampton FC going forward as in the 55th minute. with the ball running aimlessly out for a goal kick, that little scroat Jamie Vardy decided to run his studs down the back of Virgil Van Dijk's leg.
This put the then Saints central defender out for the rest of the season and in doing so possibly cost Claude Puel his job, in that with a fit Van Dijk we might well have won the League Cup final a month or so later, but Puel would not have had to switch to a defensive formation for the rest of the season to protect a shaky back four.
Since then meeting Leicester at St Mary's has seen three defeats and a draw and i won't even depress you by saying how many goals we have conceded in those 4 games.
But last years encounter did see us break the run of defeats and draw 1-1 despite having now Leicester player Jannik Vestergaard sent off after only 10 minutes, perhaps the nearest he has come to helping Leicester City to a point in 2021, so there is hope for tonight.
The result at Liverpool on Saturday wasn't great, but on the plus side everyone at Anfield saw what the problem was and so did Ralph Hasenhuttl who held his hands up after the game and admitted he got it wrong.
But the team didn't collapse on Saturday, yes in the first half it got ripped apart a few times by a rampart Liverpool side who raced into a 3-0 lead, but as a team we dug in and kept on going, we made sure that it didn't become an embarrassing score line and it could have been.
So in the second half at Anfield Ralph got things right and that is what he needs to do again tonight, go back to the 4-4-2 formation that has worked well over the past couple of months.
In goal Ralph surely must be having some doubts about the keeper, At Anfield the home side had only 6 attempts on target, 4 of them went in, on the first three McCarthy stood no chance but he really should have done better on the 4th which appeared to go right through him, indeed his opposite number had to make 3 saves at various times in the game that made sure that we didn't get a foothold in the game.
Add that to his display at Norwich and the manager must have it on his mind to throw in Forster, however I don't think it will be tonight
It also means Livramento & Kyle Walker Peters in the full back positions, but he will have a dilemma in the centre of defence, Salisu is a no brainer, he has been our best central defender this season, but who plays alongside him, Jan Bednarek for some reason has not looked the player he was in previous seasons and Lyanco stayed on at Anfield whilst the Pole went off at half time.
In midfield Romeu & Ward Prowse are our best pairing, but the question is who plays out wide, no one has really grasped the bull by the horns and demanded the manager pick him, Nathan Redmond has done better than any of his rivals for the wide position, he has made more positive contributions, but who would play on the right ?
Some would say that Tino Livramento would be better suited there and KWP at right back, that is still an option, but at Anfield Livramento looked lost in a more advanced role, although in fairness he didn't have the cover behind him, truth is though the youngster has looked jaded after playing so many games in a row this season after having never played a first team game before August.
Personally I think it is time to unleash Nathan Tella this evening.
Up front I think the option for the manager is easy, Che Adams & Adam Armstrong, Che seems to have a knack for a goal of late and although he didn't score at Anfield and had a chance he should have put away, Adam Armstrong was perhaps our best player going forward, he worked well in the build up play and was lively throughout, he is coming to terms with the jump up to the Premier League, all he is missing is a goal or two, the two so far have been smashed in from the edge of the box, from close range he is perhaps thinking to much, he gets one tap in it could open the floodgates.
Leicester have moved up the table in the past couple of games and have done just what we need to and that is get a couple of straight wins again, Leeds jumped above us last night with a last minute penalty winner against Palace, but a score draw tonight will see us back above them on goal difference, a win will see us also leapfrog Palace and Everton should they fail to beat Liverpool at Goodison.
Indeed we could end the midweek fixtures in 11th place if we can beat the Foxes this evening and that has to be our aim. get three points on the board and send ourselves into the weekend with some confidence and looking up the table and not behind us.
This is the time to keep calm, and concentrate on moving forward, we are slowly building up the squad, it is still a work in progress, but it has potential with an addition or two in key positions and if we get through this season we will have freed up more cash and be able to do something about them.
On Saturday the manager made a mistake in his tactics, he wasn't the first Premier League manager to do so and he won't be the last, indeed managers with a greater reputation have lost games through getting the tactics wrong.
We have stability now and that is something that can be built on, but it will be slowly but surely and the game has changed drastically in the past few years, it is a different League to the one we finished 6th in 6 years ago under Ronald Koeman, hopefully tonight it can be one of those great nights at St Mary's where we win the game and move up the table.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #22 by wessex_exile
It’s the 15th of January, and still the U’s are attempting to play their first home match of 2022. Weather looks good (check), players have returned from injury (check), no on-day Covid testing to get in the way (check), so barring fire famine or flood, I reckon we must have at least a 50:50 chance of a game at the JobServe this afternoon. Whether it’ll be three much-needed points or not, and if you’ll pardon the pun, I at least did see green shoots at the New Lawn on Tuesday. We still lost, and the table doesn’t lie, but definitely signs to encourage me that whilst it’s not going to be a comfortable journey, we’ll be alright by May.
When Saturday Comes #21 by wessex_exile
Here we are then, what should have been the first home game of 2022, and I discover seconds before posting this that the game is called off because of a waterlogged pitch. Having gone to the trouble of writing this, even though we’re not playing I’m going to post it anyway – it’s not like you’ve got anything else to do this afternoon.
When Saturday Comes #20 by wessex_exile
Finally, When Saturday Comes…and the U’s (for now at least) have a match to play. Mind you, I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, so there’s still time yet for yet another Covid/ injury postponement, I guess. I certainly hope not, as I’m planning on heading over to Crawley for this one. Mind you, now that the EFL have decreed there will be no on the day testing to eliminate the possibility of last-minute cancellations, I think I’ll defer buying a train ticket until this evening. Needless to say, a repeat of our last visit to Broadfield (The People’s Pension Stadium under the terms of a sponsorship deal) would do very nicely indeed.
When Saturday Comes #19 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…and the U’s find themselves fixtureless again, following Hartlepool’s request to postpone the game because of positive Covid tests amongst their squad. To heap further fixture congestion problems on the U’s, in short order Forest Green Rovers did likewise for our already rearranged match at the New Lawn on Tuesday night, and for the same reason. They’re not on their own either, with in all (so far) four Premier League and 19 EFL matches postponed today – all for positive Covid tests in their squads.
When Saturday Comes #18 by wessex_exile
A little later than usual today I’m afraid – ‘tis the season to be jolly and all that, so I have just been out for the obligatory Xmas tree – bah humbug. Mind you, I was treated to the sight of literally hundreds of Santas (and the occasional elf) on a charity fun run through Calne on the way, which for want of a better expression was certainly surreal. Officially entitled Santa’s Scamper, the entry fee for participants goes to charitable causes, and to date the organisers have raised nearly £8k for charities such as Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Dorothy House, Hope for Tomorrow, Barnardos and of course their main charity every year, Hannah’s Trees – well done Santas!
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