The Chalkboard: Mark Hughes must make big changes to get win he needs vs Watford

According to reports in The Mirror earlier this week, Southampton manager Mark Hughes needs to take all three points against Watford at St Mary’s on Saturday to avoid being sacked.

It is going to be a tough ask against a Watford side that has enjoyed a positive start to the campaign and currently lie in eighth position going into the weekend’s fixtures, whereas Saints have one Premier League win on their own patch in 2018 and have won just one of their 11 top-flight matches so far this season.

So, what can Hughes do or change to ensure he gets the victory?

A new role for Hojbjerg

While Ryan Bertrand currently has the captaincy currently and is one of the most experienced players in the squad, it has been clear to see that he perhaps isn’t the right person to lead the team as he isn’t the most vocal on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has arguably been Saints’ best player so far this season and has been a real leader in the middle of the park, barking out instructions to his teammates as well as getting on the score-sheet twice.

The Denmark international has a real motivation and willingness to succeed on and off the pitch, and he must get the armband against the Hornets and lead from the front with plenty of energy in central areas.

Time to ditch the 4-4-2

Hughes gave up on his three-at-the-back experiment during the Premier League season opener against Burnley, and he has largely opted for a 4-4-2 system since then.

That was supposedly in the hope that it would boost the south coast outfit’s goal tally, but it hasn’t proven to be the case as they have found the net just once in their previous six top-flight fixtures – and just seven times in 11 games in total – with partnerships between Danny Ings and Charlie Austin and Ings and Shane Long not proving to be fruitful.

The Welsh manager should get rid of that return to the 4-2-3-1 system against the Hornets, bringing in another attacking midfielder such as the energetic Stuart Armstrong to play behind Ings to try and bring that direct threat from a slightly deeper position.

Do you agree or disagree, Saints fans? Let us know in the comments below.

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