Brighton deservedly came out on top at St. Mary’s and inflicted more trouble towards struggling Southampton. The three points could prove invaluable come to the end of the season with Graham Potter’s side heading towards the last quarter of the season.
Southampton were unbeaten in all seven of their Premier League meetings with Brighton (W3/D4), more than any other club they’ve faced without defeat prior to Sunday. The winless run for the seagulls against Southampton came to an end with Leandro Trossard’s neat finish early in the second half proving to be enough to separate the two sides.
The loss meant that Southampton had only managed two wins in their last 17 matches. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have looked nothing alike compared to their early-season success, with their form declining drastically, falling headfirst towards the danger zone. Hasenhuttl is in need of finding a solution to their atrocious run of form.
“I can remember we were one of the best home teams at the beginning of the season, what has happened in the second half we have to answer the question ourselves.”
Lallana proves his worth
The former Southampton skipper, Adam Lallana, endured a successful return to St. Mary’s with his side deservedly coming out of the game with all three points.
Lallana proved to be instrumental in Southampton’s back to back promotions under Nigel Adkins, with the midfield maestro’s consistent performances rewarded with a move to Anfield. Lallana’s technical ability has never been in question, making the number 10 role his own in the past. Injuries have been the downfall for the former English international, limiting his development and game time during the peak of his footballing career.
However, with time came experience and Lallana showcased his maturity and development on his return to Southampton, becoming a player the Southampton faithful didn’t quite recognise.
Lallana played a deeper role under Potter and has reaped the rewards. Lallana’s industrious performance in the middle drastically helped his side dictate the match when most needed. The 32-year-old made more tackles (5) and more ball recoveries (12) than any other player. Lallana’s maturity has improved in the past couple of years and has proved to be a real coup this season. Lallana’s all-round ability that he attains was showcased yet again, completing the most final third passes in the match (14).
If Brighton can keep him fit throughout the rest of the season, it could be the difference between staying in the division and going down. Lallana plays an integral role in Potter’s system and has proved to be a big miss in the matches he hasn't been present.
Southampton’s defensive woes continue
Trossard’s goal meant that Southampton had conceded a worrying 26 goals in just their last nine games. A solution to their incredibly fragile defence has to be found or Southampton could start fearing the worst.
Brighton managed to score two goals for the first time in the Premier League since the 2nd of January when they drew 3-3 to Wolves.
The injury to Kyle Walker-Peters has had an impact on the backline with the summer acquisition proving to be one of, if not the most important player under Hasenhuttl’s system. The defensive one on one ability that the 23-year old attains has been significantly missed alongside his attacking threat, constantly making runs in behind the defence. With no apparent replacement in the club following Yan Valery’s loan departure in January, Hasenhuttl is left with little option but to play players out of position which completely changes the dynamic and shape to the backline in defence and attack.
However, the problems seem to lie deeper than most would’ve expected with Walker-Peters’ return not turning out to be the instant fix some hoped for. The back four have lacked real grit and have failed to put the basics right in the past couple of months. The basic necessities to defending such as tracking your man has been missing, which proved to be so apparent against Brighton. This inevitably led to the winning goal as Trossard was able to lose his marker, Jan Bednarek, and cooly slot the ball past a helpless Fraser Forster in-between the sticks.
Hasenhuttl has voiced his concerns and has reinstated the importance to find a solution to suppress their defensive problems.
“We are not hungry enough and the basics are missing at the moment which makes it very difficult to win games."
Adams fills the shoes of absentee, Danny Ings
Che Adams’ goals has come on leaps and bounds this season, with the striker netting his seventh of the season, scoring for the third consecutive game.
Adams has been the only spark within the side in the past month. After going 16 games without a goal, Adams has stepped up when needed most after a spell on the bench.
Hasenhuttl has described Adams as a 'ketchup bottle' to portray Adams' goal scoring this season.
"I hope Che Adams is like a ketchup bottle. Nothing at first then a load at once...".
Southampton's number 10 has certainly lived up to the manager's wish and delivered in recent weeks. Adams may prove pivotal in the coming weeks and aid the team in mustering up muchly needed points to drive Southampton to safety.