Defence an issue for Southampton, with Danso ready to jump in


Southampton were comfortably beaten by Burnley at Turf Moor, with the defensive frailties of last season still a clear issue.

Fans were desperate for recruitment in the central defender area, Jack Stephens fails to impress whilst the behemoth that is Jannik Vestegaard can dominate games but has a costly lapse in concentration at least once per 90.

Fan favourite Jan Bednarek is seemingly first choice in that department, despite his inexperience and limitations as a defender. Beyond that, cult hero Maya Yoshida is often untrusted to start games whilst Wesley Hoedt has tarnished his relationship with the club and fans to such an extent it would be mind boggling should he stay past the European transfer window closing.

All the issues this defence has suffered over the last few seasons were exposed by Burnley on the opening day, long balls over the top forced the defence to chase the likes of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood. Whilst the swirling winds of Turf Moor made life difficult for those aerial duels and judging the flight of the ball, testing the concentration and focus of those defenders.

Vestegaard showcased his tendancy to lapse when he misjudged a long Erik Pieters ball over the top, allowing the nuisance that is Ashley Barnes in on goal as he rifled the ball past Angus Gunn. Whilst the entire defence fell to sleep when Barnes found space in the box for his second and when Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson rifled in the third.

There were concerns as the team sheet was announced, with Jack Stephens in the lineup in a back five and club captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on the bench due to illness., but the implosion that followed was beyond concern, although the performance of Stephens himself was one of the better in a Saints shirt.

Southampton go into the next fixture with low expectation, Liverpool visit the south coast after their  4-1 hammering of Norwich, a game in which they took their foot off the gas for the second 45. That being said, Norwich did expose Liverpool’s backline on occasion and the absence of Alisson in goal may present some scoring opportunities for Southampton.

But the issues and worries will be at the back, a deadline day signing was made at St Mary’s, with Augsburg and former MK Dons youngster Kevin Danso making a season-long loan move. Just 20 years old and relatively inexperienced, there seems to already be a growing expectation that he will improve the defence when brought in.

Referring to WhoScored for statistics, Danso does possess the ability to improve this defence, but according to the site, he also has some traits which are the reason the current crop struggle.

His ability to dribble with the ball will suit the Southampton team, with Bednarek reluctant to do so, and Vestegaard not possessing the pace to get back into position should something go wrong, but one of the listed strengths of Danso is that he likes to clear the ball, enjoys to block the ball, a defender first, a footballer second.

Southampton need some no nonsense, solid defending when needed and it seems Danso is ready to provide. Although much like those he will lineup against, his concentration is seen as a weakness of his, so will need to step up if he is to perform in the Premier League and improve this side.

There may be some teething issues, but Ralph Hasenhuttl needs to knuckle down with his team and let the bad performance of the opening day be a thing of the past. A performance of grit, determination and passion against rivals Liverpool will soon have the fans back onside.


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