Category Archives: Southampton

Is southampton FC the new feel good story of the Premier League?

It seems like only yesterday that we were praising how well Everton have started the new campaign and how James Rodriguez was the signing of the summer. 

Fast forward to December and it is now Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton who are competing with the early pace setters in the top flight.  

Where are the Saints in the current Premier League table?

Indeed, it maybe early days but the Saints have been mightily impressive, they finished last season brilliantly having lost just one of their Project Restart games.  

Despite losing their opening two matches, against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace and Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, they have since gone on a run that has seen them win six, draw one and loose just once of their next eight matches. This is including their latest 2-1 victory over South Coast rivals Brighton.

Following their latest victory the Saints have now moved up to fifth in the table and are just four points behind the Premier League leaders Spurs.

2019/20 League Low point

It seems certainly remarkable to contemplate that just over a year ago that Hasenhuttl was left to pick up the pieces from what was one of the darkest days in the Saints Premier League history, where they suffered a 9-0 reverse against Brendan Rodgers’ current league leaders. 

This proved a significant moment in the Austrian’s reign as manager as it was the not only the biggest ever victory by an away side in the top flight, but it was also Southampton’s biggest ever defeat in their history. 

That day saw a hat trick each for both Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez following an early red card for the Saints left back, Ryan Bertrand. 

The Rebuild 

The following day, the Austrian was understandably close to sack, but after some constructive talks what resulted was a getting back to basics approach. 

Indeed, Hasenhuttl took on board both players and coaches’ feedback and what came about was the Austrian reverting back to his favoured 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 formation.

What transpired from this tactical alteration was an encouraging 2-2 draw at Arsenal, which ultimately began their revival. 

Not only that but the players have also now understandably got more use to Hasenhuttl’s methods.  His preferred tactics is modelled on that of his former club RB Leipzig and involves: high energy, pressing and front foot defending. 

Key Players

The players who Hasenhuttl has undoubtedly had a positive impact on has been James Ward-Prowse.

Ward-Prowse is now not only the club captain but also figured prominently in the most recent England squads for Euro Qualifiers and The Nations League.

One of the standout performances that demonstrate Ward-Prowse’s quality that immediately comes to mind was at Villa Park in the 4-3 win over Aston Villa where he scored two stunning free kicks.

The England midfielder followed up that impressive display by scoring another terrific free kick against Manchester United, which at the time gave them a 2-0 lead against the Red Devils before they subsequently lost the match 3-2.

While another who has flourished is Ward Prowse’s fellow England international, Danny Ings, who scored 22 goals in all competitions last season. Ings marked his return to the side with a typically composed penalty, which secured the victory over The Seagulls and made him the first Saints player to score in four consecutive away matches since Rickie Lambert between December 2012 and January 2013.

In addition, Che Adams has stepped up in a big way since the unfortunate injury sustained by Ings. Adams has scored three goals in his last four appearances, having had to wait until his 30th appearance to grab his first Saints goal.

Not only that but Adams has since been nominated for the PL Player of the Month award following some of his recent impressive displays.

At the back, meanwhile, Danish centre back Jannik Vestegaard is rapidly becoming one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League after overcoming a rather shaking start to life in the top flight. 

Where next for Hasenhuttl’s rejuvenated side? 

The big question for Saints fans and Hasenhuttl is can they keep their impressive run going? 

Well they next play current strugglers, Sheffield United at St.Mary’s in their first match in front of their home fans since March of this year, before facing tricky fixtures away at Arsenal and then they play Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Although, in this strange 2020/21 season, the side from the South Coast could perhaps start dreaming of a top six finish or more? 

Where do you think Southampton will finish this season? Feel free to leave predictions in the comments below….

Adam Lallana Signs for Brighton- How will the Englishman Fit in at the Amex?

Adam Lallana completed his highly anticipated switch to the Seagulls on a free transfer on Sunday after the expiration of his Liverpool contract.

The former England international returns to the south coast on a three year deal after previously starring for fellow Premier League outfit Southampton on their rise to the top tier.

He spent six years on Merseyside, arriving in 2014 from the Saints for a fee of £25 million. He went on to make 178 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a key man during Brendan Rodgers tenure and in Klopp’s early years in charge.

Injuries and a flurry of new signings in the summer of 2017 saw his playing time gradually decrease, with Lallana featuring in just 22 games in all competitions this season, none of which have come since the restart.

He did contribute significantly to Liverpool’s Premier League triumph, scoring a crucial late equaliser at Old Trafford against Man United to ensure the Reds came away with a point. He leaves Liverpool having won the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the Champions League.

He will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans as he epitomised everything that Jürgen Klopp wants from a midfielder, a high energy, all action player who can contribute defensively as well as going forward.

Lallana had a host of clubs queuing up for his signature, and he was consistently linked with a reunion with Rodgers at Leicester but he snubbed them in favour of a move to Brighton, who finished 15th this season.

While it seems like a huge step down on paper, swapping Champions League football for a potential relegation battle, there is no doubt that footballing wise, Brighton is a natural fit for Lallana’s talents.

They are going places under Potter, with the former Swansea boss guiding them to their biggest ever points haul (41) since they secured promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

They are a possession based side, playing tidy football which is easy on the eye. Potter has employed a number of different formations this campaign, alternating between playing three and four at the back depending on their opponents.

He encourages forwards and midfielders to press high and in small groups to win back possession, similar to what Lallana was asked to do under Klopp at Liverpool, and something he regularly excelled at.

Lallana’s favoured position is attacking midfield, where he can drive forward with his superb dribbling skills. This helps him to wriggle out of tight spaces and create an opening for himself or a teammate.

With Potter often rotating his starting eleven, Lallana will be competing with Aaron Mooy for the number ten role. He impressed in patches this season but only contributed two goals and two assists in 25 games.

If Lallana is afforded the same amount of playing time, he will be hoping to better the Australian’s tally and be the creative spark Brighton have been crying out for this campaign.

Lallana is versatile, however, another characteristic which Potter admires. He has been deployed as a deep lying playmaker or a ‘number 8’, dictating the game from a more central position.

He can also operate as a winger or on the left or right of a front three, providing Potter with a number of new attacking options to compliment the strike force of Connolly and Maupay.

At 32, Lallana will provide some much needed top flight experience to the Seagulls’ relatively young squad. He went to the 2014 World Cup with England and featured in the 2016 European Championships, as well as playing regular European football at Anfield.

His experience of playing in those high level competitions and of winning trophies has instilled a winning mentality in Lallana, which he will be eager to pass on to those around him at Brighton.

Lallana, has already outlined his ambitions with the club, and playing in a relegation battle is not one of them:

“I won’t be happy with fighting against relegation every year. I’ve experienced that before at Southampton,” he told Brighton’s official website.

He clearly rates Potter and believes that he can take Brighton on a journey like the one which he experienced with Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, when under the Argentine’s tutelage, the Saints finished eighth, their highest ever finish in the Premier League which granted them access to the Europa League.

“The template is in place and it is about implementing that and working with Graham (Potter), learning new things, improving myself, improving the team and there is no reason why we can’t do that.

“The job Graham has done in changing so many aspects of the way they play and building a culture and environment which makes it possible to move forward, I think it is definitely possible to move up the league.”

His trust in Potter’s philosophy was evidently a huge selling point for Lallana, as he clearly envisages himself in the manager’s system

Lallana, is also a top professional, who trains with the same intensity as he would when playing in a game. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, (a good friend of Lallana’s) in an exclusive interview on LFC TV citied Lallana’s professionalism, and work ethic as some of his key strengths stating:

“Whatever club he goes to, they are getting an amazing player and person.”

Having such a great professional and serial winner around the dressing room will be of great help to those coming through at Brighton and signing him on a free transfer from the Premier League champions is seen as a huge coup from the club, and a statement of intent that the owners are willing to trust in Potter and his style of play.

Lallana could have a similar impact at his new club as Milner did for the youngsters coming through at Liverpool, inspiring the next generation to combine their incredible talent with work hard to keep them grounded and pushing to improve themselves and the team.

Although he will be one of Brighton’s top earners, Lallana has taken a pay cut to join the Seagulls and it is understood that Brighton have not broken their wage structure to secure his signature.

The only worry surrounding Lallana will be his fitness, as the Englishman has missed over 70 games during his time on Merseyside through injury. Given his talent and price, however it is a risk worth taking.

Potter summarised nicely everything that Lallana will bring to Brighton when he told their official website:

“Adam is a really exciting signing for us, someone I am sure the supporters will be really looking forward to seeing play.”

Potter continued:

“To have both his experience and quality out on the pitch will be a great addition for us, and I know he will be an excellent role model for our younger players in the squad.”

Should ex-pros help out VAR officiating?

VAR,  not for the first time this season, once again appeared in the spot light  following more controversy surrounding no less than three different incidents this week.

Incorrect penalty decisions were made by the video assistant referee in all three of Thursday’s Premier League games.

Tottenham should have had a penalty when Joshua King clearly shoved Harry Kane in the back, in their goalless draw with Bournemouth.

Bruno Fernandes won a spot kick, which should not have been given against Aston Villa.

James Ward-Prowse hit the bar after being awarded a disputed penalty against Everton.

With so many talking points raised about VAR, there has been a suggestion by former footballer Tim Cahill, than an ex-player should be involved to work alongside the VAR officials at Stockley Park.

Going forward, it would appear to make sense that somebody who has played the game professionally, and knows how players react in circumstances during a game, would know more than a referee, who in most cases would never have played the game before.

The only downside to this in my opinion would be would the VAR officials listen to what that person would have to say, take on board and put into practice.

Overall, on debatable decisions I am sure they would like some impact from the ex pro, but I fear that the final say on the decision would be down to the VAR official.

I am still unconvinced that they would generally be swayed by expert advice from somebody who has played and understands the game more.

It hurts me to say that I genuinely believe quite a few referees don’t know the game of football. It is not just about knowing the laws of football; it is also about knowing the game.

To simplify and eradicate even more controversy going forward, surely the on field official should be allowed to go and check the pitch side monitor, and then make his own decision.

All too often the man in the middle never goes ahead and puts this into practice. It is the VAR crew who in turn make their own decision, therefore undermining the person who is supposed to be referring the game.

My own solution to this mess would be simple really.

When an incident should be reviewed, let VAR tell the on field official how they see it.

The referee should then go straight to the pitch side monitor to make up his own mind and then decide what decision to go with.

The referee who is officiating the actual game must be the sole person in charge of events on and off the field, in my opinion.

Currently, it is a case of somebody many miles away making decisions that really should be made closer to home.

Danny Ings keeps proving doubters wrong

In a normal world we would have been enjoying the Euro’s but circumstances beyond our control means the tournament will have to be put on hold for another year.

If Euro 2020 would have gone ahead, there would have been one man who would surely have been part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, Danny Ings.

The Winchester born 27-year-old is already a contender for the Golden Boot award, having hit 18 Premiership goals so far this season, after a brace against Watford at the weekend and is only one behind Jamie Vardy.

Ings started his career in the youth team at Southampton but was released as a schoolboy. Little did they know at the time that they would be calling for his services again in helping the Saints maintaining their stay in the Premiership.

The prolific striker had two seasons at near rivals Bournemouth back in 2009-11 where he made 27 appearances for the Cherries with seven goals to his name.

In between his time with Bournemouth he was sent out on an initial one-month loan to non-league side Dorchester Town, where he scored on his debut against Ebbsfleet United in a 2-1 home defeat. His loan spell was eventually extended by the Conference South side, with Ings grabbing a further three goals in eight more appearances.

In August 2011 Championship side Burnley secured his services. He went on to play 122 games, hitting the net 38 times. His impressive appearances for The Clarets was rewarded when he won the Championship Player Of The Year at the Football League Awards  in 2014.

A year later Ings joined Liverpool, making his debut in a 3-0 loss to West Ham at Anfield. In October Ings suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee and was ruled out for the rest of the season.

However, Ings proved the doubters and everybody wrong by making a quick recovery  and returned back to the side to feature in the final match of the season against West Brom.

Ings, has always had to fight of injuries in his career and suffered another setback when he damaged his right knee in a League Cup match against Tottenham that would require another spell on the sidelines, this time it was nine months.

In September 2017, Ings made his first appearance in 11 months since his injury when he came on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in the EFL Cup. He spent a total of four seasons at Anfield, making just 14 appearances with three goals scored.

Due to the form of Liverpool’s magnificent trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, Ings felt disillusioned and requested a move away from Liverpool. Ings joined Southampton on an initial loan spell in August 2018, which eventually turned into a permanent move. Since the move back to his original club, Ings has scored twenty-five goals for the Saints and this season in particular has looked a classy forward.

One can’t deny that Ings is such an important player for the Saints. If he gets a chance, he rarely misses.  This is a sign of a quality striker.

When you consider the setbacks he has had to suffer- two really bad injuries- he has always come back a better player. He leads the line brilliantly, and at 27 has still got more years in him-injuries permitting.

Although, Euro 2020 will now be 2021 make no mistake that Danny Ings name will still be on everybody’s lips come next year when Southgate names his squad for the Euro’s.

Interested in finding out which players are due to be released from their Premier League clubs this summer?

See details here in link below:

https://247-football.com/2020/06/29/which-players-have-been-released-from-each-premier-league-club/

 

Premier League TABLE scores and fixtures

 

PosTeamPlayedGDPoints
1Liverpool (C)385299
2Manchester City386781
3Manchester United3830

66

4Chelsea381566
5Leicester City382662
6Tottenham381459
7Wolves381159
8Arsenal38856
9Sheffield United38054
10Burnley38754
11Southampton38-952
12Everton38-1249
13Newcastle38-2044
14Crystal Palace38-1943
15Brighton38-1541
16West Ham38-1339
17Aston Villa38-2635
18Bournemouth (R)38-2534
19Watford (R)38-2834
20Norwich (R)38-4421

Results on Final Day

  • Arsenal 3-2 Watford 
  • Burnley 1-2 Brighton 
  • Chelsea 2-0 Wolves
  • Crystal Palace 1-1 Tottenham
  • Everton 1-3 Bournemouth
  • Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United
  • Manchester City 5-0 Norwich City
  • Newcastle United 1-3 Liverpool
  • Southampton 3-1 Sheffield United
  • West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa