Aside from a 1-0 win against Liverpool in early January, Southampton’s Premier League form in 2021 has been nothing short of abysmal.
Whilst the FA Cup run has been a positive for Ralph Hasenhuttl, one point from a possible 24 in the Premier League is truly awful, although much of the Austrian’s problems seem to be down to injuries to key players.
Kyle Walker-Peters, in particular, has been heavily missed in recent fixtures, especially as the Saints failed to bring in any defensive reinforcements during the winter transfer window, meaning the Austrian has been forced to deploy centre-back Jan Bednarek there in recent fixtures.
Hasenhuttl has also lost the likes of Ibrahima Diallo and Theo Walcott to injuries, whilst key defensive-midfielder Oriol Romeu is out for the rest of the season after limping off in the 3-0 defeat against Leeds United recently.
Southampton’s Achilles’ heel since the turn of the year has been clear to see for supporters. After positive first-half displays, the Saints’ weaknesses in defence are too easily figured out by opposition managers, and they are unable to match the level they often produce in the opening 45.
The 3-0 defeat at Elland Road is a clear example of where Hasenhuttl’s side are far from good enough in the second half. After a fairly even first half, Marcelo Bielsa’s side tore through the Saints defence time and time again in the second period, with the South Coast club perhaps lucky to only lose by three.
The home defeat against Wolves saw the Saints lead 1-0 at half-time thanks to a superb Ings goal but again, the second-half was one-way traffic in the way of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who deserved to win the game, regardless of the controversial nature of Ruben Neves’ penalty for the equaliser.
Considering Southampton currently sit 14th in the Premier League table, just eight points clear of a Fulham side who are starting to perform under Scott Parker, Hasenhuttl must fix this glaring issue of woeful second-half performances otherwise he risks his side being dragged into a relegation battle.
AND, in other news… Saints’ latest injury setback may force Hasenhuttl into an unwanted risk