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Southampton must unleash Adam Armstrong against Watford

Southampton will be looking to get themselves back on track on Sunday when they host Watford after an excellent run of just one defeat in 13 matches across all competitions was followed by back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Newcastle United respectively.

The Saints also saw their impressive 12 home match unbeaten run at St.Mary’s Stadium come to an end on Thursday evening as Newcastle came from behind to win 2-1 on the south coast.

However, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have an excellent chance to find form again when they take on the Hornets on Sunday afternoon who are seriously struggling in the Premier League.

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With a top-half finish the goal for the Saints, games against sides down the bottom end of the table, like Watford, will be chances that will have to be taken and after two passive performances from the Hampshire-based outfit, Hasenhuttl may need to make some changes to his starting lineup.

One of those changes should be striker Adam Armstrong coming back into the side.

On the chalkboard

It’s fair to say that the Englishman’s start to life at Southampton hasn’t gone exactly to plan after joining from Blackburn Rovers for around £15m.

Having finished last season with 28 goals in 40 Championship appearances for Rovers, the 25-year-old was heavily linked with a Premier League move and ended up at St.Mary’s. However, the Englishman has only found the back of the net twice thus far.

After a sublime finish on his debut against Everton, the forward ended a nine-game drought when he scored the only goal in Southampton’s 1-0 home win over Aston Villa in early November.

However, the striker has played 13 times since his strike against the Villans without scoring. Although, game time has certainly been limited.

Since the Villa match, Armstrong has started just four Premier League games for Hasenhuttl’s side with the duo of Ché Adams and Armando Broja bearing fruit regularly.

Adams (eight) and Broja (nine) have scored a combined 17 goals for the Saints thus far this term whilst veteran Shane Long has been ahead of Armstrong in the pecking order at times with the Irishman scoring in the 2-0 victory over Everton last month.

Broja, however, has now gone five games in the league without scoring after netting in the 3-2 win at Tottenham a month ago and could be tipped for a rest with the striker still only 20 years of age.

Moreover, it is still unknown who the Albania international will be playing for next season with the striker’s deal at Southampton currently temporary whilst being on loan from Chelsea.

Therefore, it’s vital that Hasenhuttl gets Armstrong scoring before the end of the season so that the Englishman goes into next campaign confident in case Broja doesn’t join the south coast club on a permanent basis.

The 25-year-old must take confidence from his form last season at Ewood Park in order to finally settle at St.Mary’s where he ended the season as the second tier’s second-top goalscorer.

Whilst at Blackburn last season, manager Tony Mowbray directed the following praise in Armstrong’s direction: “He’s a boy really, but his explosive pace at the top end of the pitch allows you to play both ways, to not be overly concerned if you’re pinned back around the edge of your box because one pass releases pressure to someone like (Harvey) Elliott to play the pass that he can hit just leaving it in the space for the speed and dynamic movement of Armstrong – it’s a devastating effect for the team.

Should Adam Armstrong start against Watford?

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Confidence can also be taken from the experiences of his teammate Adams who, after a move from the Championship following a prolific campaign, struggled to settle initially and didn’t score his first goal until July (given the Covid-induced restart).

Now, the striker is one of Southampton’s top assets after scoring nine league goals last term and a further eight in all competitions this season.

Furthermore, against the Premier League’s third-leakiest defence in Watford, Armstrong could finally get the goal that proves to be the catalyst for a strong final two months of the campaign.

In other news – Sold for £12m, now like Van Basten: Saints had a howler over “complete” 87-goal gem

Article title: Southampton must unleash Adam Armstrong against Watford

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