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Today sees the battle of the hamptons as Southampton travel to Wolverhampton. It has been contrasting starts to the season for both ourselves and Southampton, despite their only being four points between us. I’ve documented our start to the season here so there’s no need for me to go over that in great detail. In essence, we’ve had a steady start and have only lost once, even that was unlucky, away at Leicester. That accompanied by drawing with both of the Manchester clubs, all in all, it’s been pretty good. Albeit, it could’ve been so much better as we would’ve won at Old Trafford if Traore had picked his head up. Such is life.
Speaking of Leicester, they knocked us out of the Carabao Cup in the week on penalties. It was a pretty drab affair if the truth be told, neither side really created a great deal and the lottery of the penalties was never going to go our way. I was reading an article on the Express & Star website the other day where it detailed all of our penalty shootouts and it makes for pretty grim reading. All of our penalties were awful, with the exception of Ashley-Seal’s spot-kick. It was a big difference to United’s penalty shootout with Derby, where all the penalties were bang on the money, with the exception of Phil Jones’.
Speaking About Saints
Southampton’s season began with a disappointing scoreless draw at home to Burnley and a narrow loss at Goodison Park. it was another poor performance at St Mary’s the following week as a late Harry Maguire goal gave Leicester the three points. Their only positive result was a textbook away performance at Selhurst Park. Admittedly, Palace were without Zaha, but let’s take nothing away from Southampton as they showed their credentials here. Following on from that, there was a draw with Brighton at home and a loss away at Anfield. Naturally, we’ll focus on the performance in London.
They lined up with an old-fashioned 4-4-2. Shane Long partnering Danny Ings up top. Ings put Saints 1-0 up just after the interval with a typical striker’s goal and from that point onwards, Saints had Palace on puppet strings as they were always dangerous on the counter. Lo and behold, in stoppage time, they doubled their lead and put the game to bed.
Not only does this shows Ings’ ruthlessness in front of goal, two shots and one goal, it also shows his magnificent work rate as his heat map has spots all over the place. One of Mark Hughes’ biggest decisions today is whether or not to partner Ings with Gabbiadini in Long’s absence OR to keep five in the middle of the park. As an alternative, Hughes could play Austin alongside Ings and go for a proper old school front pairing. Time will tell.
As you will see from the two images I’m about to show you, Southampton’s average player position averages a lot dependant on what system they’re playing and who the opponent is. The first one is from against Palace when they played two up top.
Even with Long and Ings both starting technically speaking as a two, as you can see here, it’s more of a 4-2-3-1 with Ings (9) playing centrally behind Long (7). Redmond (22) and Elyounoussi (11) cut inside to form a three-pronged attack in behind the striker. Whether or not this happens again with Ings in behind Austin instead of Long, remains to be seen. Now, onto the Liverpool game…
Here, you can see the addition of Oriol Romeu (14) in the middle of the park as Ings was not permitted to play against his parent club. Whether or not Hughes would’ve been bold enough to play two at Anfield, we’ll never know. Regardless, the switch to three central midfielders didn’t work as Liverpool scored three goals in the first half and the job was pretty much done.
A lot of it will depend on how Hughes views the game at Molineux. Personally, I think he will play to win and play Ings + A N other ran than three in the middle.
Just closing on Southampton’s shape, much like ourselves, their full-backs keep fabulous width as they basically hug the touchline. Hopefully, they attack, attack and attack some more and leave plenty of gaps for us in behind to exploit early doors. Here’s hoping.
Fond Memories Of A Terrible Result
Until my dying day, one game I will always remember against Southampton is when we lost 6-0 at home. Marek Saganowski netted a hattrick in a game that was so, so bizarre. Despite the rather lopsided scoreline, would you believe me if I said we should’ve won? Genuinely. We dominated them for large periods of the game and if it wasn’t for their goalkeeper playing out of his skin, it could have easily have been 6-6. My fondest memory of the day was the team getting a standing ovation at the end of the game and the chants of we’re gonna win 7-6 when there were only five minutes left to play. Those were the days my friend.
It was such a relief to see Cavaleiro back in the side against Leicester. Not because we’ve particularly lacked the ability to create chances, but because it hopefully means that Bonatini is a step closer to being chucked out of the matchday squad. Nuno will probably put Cavaleiro in the eighteen over Gibbs-White, nonetheless, hopefully, he’ll see sense soon and banish the Brazilian. In all likelihood, it will be the same XI that got the credible draw at Old Trafford last week. On the charge.
One More Thing
If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing us to win to nil. Get involved, you know you want to.
Until the next time.