Pundit says where Southampton have gotten it wrong this season with worrying claim made

On Friday, the Saints were thrashed 4-1 by Leicester City, and Sam Parkin believes they have more problems than just their defense.

Russell Martin and Southampton started the 2023-24 Championship season with 10 points from their first four league games, but the wheels have already begun to come off.

The Saints’ new head coach has a distinct style and philosophy, as well as having to deal with the departures of key players such as James Ward-Prowse and Tino Livramento early in the season, but the early signs were promising on the field.

 

Nobody expected Sunderland to completely destroy Southampton before the international break at the Stadium of Light, with the Black Cats defeating the south coast club 5-0.

Southampton were anxious to show that the result was not an aberration, but they faced a difficult task in their first encounter back after the international break when they hosted Leicester City at St Mary’s Stadium.

Unfortunately, it was the same old scenario, as defensive mistakes in focus led to a 4-1 pounding at the hands of the Foxes, prompting many questions about Martin’s tactics.

 

The bulk of Southampton’s starting 11 from Friday night’s defeat had played in the Premier League, so they have the experience to launch a Championship promotion drive, but there are definitely concerns that need to be addressed.

What worries Sam Parkin, an EFL pundit, about Southampton?

While Southampton’s defending was poor and they nearly self-destructed against Leicester, Sam Parkin, a regular EFL pundit and ex-player who played for Millwall, Swindon, and Luton in his career, believes that Martin’s midfield has too much similarity and not enough game-changers.

“I think Southampton are a little bit samey in midfield, and I think that’s partly down to Jack Stephens and Bednarek not being available right now, so Charles has had to play as a centre-half,” Parkin said on What The EFL.

“But Downes, Smallbone, they’re a little bit similar for me, and they need a ball-winner in there if they’re going to continue in this style, in this setup.”

 

 

Will Smallbone: Southampton midfielder agrees loan move to Stoke City - BBC  Sport

 

What adjustments should Southampton make in midfield in the future?

As Parkin said, the fact that Martin is currently suffering from defensive issues means that Shea Charles is forced to play in the back line, which is not what he was brought on to do.
With two forward midfielders ahead of him, Charles was signed to be the pivot in midfield, and his defensive skills may be needed in the engine room, as seen by Leicester’s relentless overrun of the Saints in the middle of the park.

 

There is a case to be made for reintroducing Argentine Carlos Alcaraz into the starting lineup after he showed a lot of class in his brief Premier League run last season – he hasn’t started since the QPR win in August.

Stuart Armstrong is another alternative, but it’s evident that a two-man midfield of Smallbone and Downes does not work and is unlikely to function in the future, especially against classy opponents like Leicester.

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