In the words of the Richard Jobson & the Skids, The Saints Are Coming! 3pm, the new WHL to be exact.
The amount of online hand-wringing that has gone on this week would put the winner of Ultimate Worrier to shame.
We’re not playing well, we’ve not played well since 2018. We put out a weakened team, we got a weakened performance. Surprise!! We didn’t lose, come on. We let the player who has already missed two shoot-out penalties this season take our first penalty in the shoot-out. We lost.
The positives are that Parrott & Tanganga got blooded and that the warning shot across our bows, if being beaten by Newcastle wasn’t enough of a sign that things aren’t well, at least came in a game that didn’t matter in the grand, Premier League, scheme of things.
The negatives? We’ll they’ve been rehearsed enough, no-one needs to hear them again.
Under Mark Hughes Southampton were beginning their plummet towards the Championship at this time last year. A change of the man in the driving seat in the driving seat, hello Ralph Hassenhüttl, in December soon put a halt to that though and they escaped the drop comfortably, deservingly beating us at St Mary’s on the way.
This season they have mixed the meh with the ordinary. Perhaps significantly both their wins have come away from home, at Brighton and Bramall Lane but they were also thumped by Burnley on the opening day.
Their last league fixture resulted in a spanking from Bournemouth at St Mary’s however they did have two thirds of the possession and way more shots suggesting that there’s more to the result than meets the eye. Redmond, Boufal and Hojbjerg supported Adams in attack with Ward-Prowse behind meaning that they are likely to be easy on the eye if nothing else. What we don’t want is for them to sit back a la Geordies, unless there are significant changes to personnel it seems unlikely that they will.
Fitness issues mean that Pochettino is limited in his selection options. Unless he decides it’s time to risk chucking the baby out with the bath water and go full Kaboul/Adebayor by sending those with the attitude problems (according to him) off to play on the swings with the kids. I can’t see him doing that until Sessegnon and Lo Celso at least are playing regularly so a line-up akin to Hugo, Aurier, Rose, Toby, Jan, Ndombele, Winks, Lamela, Son, Dele, Kane is likely though Sanchez may come in for Vertonghen. Or Aurier. Or Alderweireld. Who knows?
A win is needed to settle the nerves of the faint-hearted.
Graham Scott is the referee.
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