Southampton’s run of form since the Premier League’s restart is down to a number of different things.
Tweaks in the way that team plays to enable them to attack and defend more effectively, a fresh start that allows Saints to now press relentlessly once again and players stepping up to take their own individual performances to new levels.
One of those players has emerged brilliantly from the sidelines and looks likely to earn himself a permanent move to St Mary’s ahead of next season.
Kyle Walker-Peters had played just one Saints game before matches resumed last month but was brought in to take the place of an out-of-sorts Yan Valery at half time against Arsenal, and it is fair to say he has not looked back since.
Providing both defensive and attacking qualities from right-back is crucial to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s setup and the last five showings from the Spurs loanee have shown why he can be a big part of a successful team in the next few campaigns.
A 3-1 over Watford started this run of form. After being exposed at the back by some calculated direct play from Arsenal the week before, Saints had come up with a solution by pushing their full-backs high and forcing the opposition back to allow themselves to dictate the match – Bertrand and Walker-Peters were key to each Saints attack and found a huge amount of space on their respective flanks.
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The dominance that this produced saw Walker-Peters have more touches of the ball than any Watford player during the 90 minutes, but the 23-year-old then showed a different side to his game the next week against Manchester City.
His defensive contributions were key in the brilliant team display that Saints put in to claim their 1-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s side. In all, he made three tackles, six interceptions, six clearances and four blocks (via whoscored.com) as he and his teammates saw off wave after wave of attacks from the visitors to St Mary’s.
Saints have drawn three league games since then but have still put in determined performances despite being safe in mid-table. Walker-Peters did struggle against Manchester United, but with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in top form, anyone probably would when facing them at the moment.
It is clear now that Saints like Walker-Peters, and their interest in signing him permanently has been confirmed by the Daily Echo.
Although he is not the finished product, his impact has been huge and the South Coast will provide a place for him to get back on track after falling out of favour at Spurs. His style is perfect for Saints and they now have a modern day full-back back in their team that can go forward and defend in equal measure.
At 23, there is also plenty of time for him to develop under Ralph Hasenhuttl’s stewardship.