Southampton

'New-Look Saints A Work In Progress'

Southampton are settling into a new tactical idea designed to make them more defensively resilient, according to BBC Radio Solent's Adam Blackmore.
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- Leicester City host Southampton at King Power Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off)
- The Saints have one point from their opening two games in the Premier League, like City
- BBC Radio Solent's Adam Blackmore has provided an assessment of Ralph Hasenhüttl's side
- Live coverage of the game will begin at 2pm on Saturday, courtesy of LCFC Radio

The Saints, who finished 15th last term, have conceded six goals from their opening two Premier League fixtures in 2022/23. A 4-1 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur was followed by a more encouraging 2-2 draw with Leeds United at St. Mary's Stadium, especially considering their two-goal comeback. 

Nevertheless, Blackmore, a regular follower of Southampton's fortunes, believes it will take time for Ralph Hasenhüttl's ideas to reap rewards. Renowned over previous seasons for playing a 4-2-2-2 system with the South Coast club, this year has seen a switch to three at the back.

They face Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

"I would say they’ve made a taxing start to the season," Blackmore told LCFC Radio's Matchday Live show. "In fact, I look at both clubs, and their starts are identical. A draw at home and a defeat in north London. They’re very similar starts and Saints, with a new formation, are a work in progress.

He wants to develop different ways of playing and they’ve spent all pre-season with three at the back – a five-man defence effectively.

Adam Blackmore BBC Radio Solent

"I think that’s probably the best way of saying it. I’ve seen signs of improvement, but I would say they are trying something different this season and it’s taking a little time to get the details right.

"[Hasenhüttl has] admitted as much to me that, when you ship 67 goals, then 68 goals and then 60 goals in three seasons, you have to try and come up with something different. Southampton usually play 4-2-2-2, but I think he thought they needed a different approach to get the goals against down.

"I understand where he was coming from. He wants to develop different ways of playing and they’ve spent all pre-season with three at the back – a five-man defence effectively.

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Southampton
Southampton

Ralph Hasenhüttl are looking to improve on last season's 15th-placed finish in the Premier League.

"Of course, the idea is to ship less goals, so when you go to Tottenham and give four up, with five at the back, everyone’s asking: what’s the point of that? You can’t do right for doing wrong, can you, in football? Against Leeds, he played it more like a three/four, not a five, and they were more effective.

"The full-backs played higher. They were aggressive and it enabled them to press better because, of course, the full-backs are higher. They went toe to toe with Leeds in what was a good game. I think it’s getting better, it’s just finding the balance, and it is early season.

"However bad the end of last season was, I’m not sure whether it’s fair to judge a team across the summer, from one season into the next."

Joe Aribo and Sékou Mara, on the other hand, are two players who Blackmore says Leicester should be wary of this weekend. The duo, who are both new signings at St. Mary's, made an impact for Hasenhüttl's's Saints last weekend.

Aribo, as much as anyone, has been a good signing for Southampton and he’s a threat as a physical presence and as a goalscorer.

Adam Blackmore BBC Radio Solent

He explained: "Before last Saturday, we hadn’t really seen a danger man, but the impacts of Joe Aribo and Sékou Mara, two of the summer signings, off the bench was impressive. Aribo scored one and Mara set up the second with an incredible pass.

"He’s only a kid too. There is a threat there. Before that, we’d been worrying about goals. They’re still in for a striker. Adam Armstrong hasn’t hit the ground running, Ché Adams is a Leicester boy of course and he’s more of a provider rather than a finisher.

"Aribo, as much as anyone, has been a good signing for Southampton and he’s a threat as a physical presence and as a goalscorer."

All times BST.

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