Southampton: How did Kyle Walker-Peters do on his Saints debut?

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Burnley FC at St Mary's Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Burnley FC at St Mary's Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images) /
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Despite Southampton not getting the result that they wanted against Burnley on Saturday, they can be pleased with Kyle Walker-Peters’ debut.

The full-back arrived from Spurs in January on a loan deal until the end of the season and was thrown in for his first start at St Mary’s earlier this afternoon.

Saints were in need of someone to fit in straight away after offloading Cedric Soares to Arsenal and, in many ways, that is what the 22-year-old did.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of his performance today was the ability he showed when on the ball.

On three occasions, he beat an opponent who was advancing towards him with quick footwork and then looked to push forward when he had got past – promising for a full-back playing in Saints’ current system.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Burnley FC at St Mary’s Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Burnley FC at St Mary’s Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images) /

Via whoscored.com’s coverage of the game, we can see that each of these take-ons resulted in a ‘successful dribble’, with Walker-Peters’ three being the most of any player in the game.

He was also economical on the ball, with 59 passes from his 69 touches of the ball throughout his time on the pitch.

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As a defender, he will be wanting to improve his numbers from this game after just one successful tackle from three attempted, one interception and one block, but these low numbers could equally have come from him Burnley attacking the through centre rather than via the wings.

Directly up against Walker-Peters for Burnley was winger Dwight McNeil, who has proven himself to be a real asset to Sean Dyche and his side.

He was kept quiet during the game, and this can be seen as a decent job done by Walker-Peters in nullifying one of the visitors’ threats.

The newest addition to the Saints squad couldn’t really have done much about the Burnley goals despite being in close proximity to both actions.

He was near to Danny Ings at the near post as Ashley Westwood’s corner was allowed to go straight in but clearly can’t legislate for lapses in concentration from his teammates.

He tried to get back to help his fellow defenders for Matej Vydra’s winner and did get dribbled past by the Czech striker, but the pass forward should have been dealt with better initially by both Jack Stephens and Jannik Vestergaard. Besides, it was a very well-taken goal anyway.

In all, this was a positive debut from Walker-Peters and he could become a real attacking asset in the current setup given that the advancing full-backs provide width and support.

One thing that Saints will need to keep an eye on is teams targeting him with taller forwards though – crosses from the opposite flank towards the area of the box that he is defending will need to be stopped in the future.

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