Southampton have become set-piece specialists this season with James Ward-Prowse’s delivery providing a source for many goals in 2020/21.
When a team gets it right from corners and free-kicks, it can really be the difference between winning and losing games in the Premier League and it’s fair to say that Saints are making full use of what they have.
Their opening goal against Arsenal on Tuesday night was another corner routine taken straight from the training ground as Ward-Prowse delivered for Stuart Armstrong to score.
Take a look at the movement in the penalty area before the goal is score via the video below:
A set-piece straight from the training ground from Saints
Che Adams, Ibrahima Diallo and Theo Walcott all take up positions that suggest a normal delivery is coming in from Ward-Prowse – the former providing something to think about at the back post whilst the latter two pin Arsenal defenders who are looking to attack the ball.
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Arsenal look to be using a zonal marking system which sees players blocking runs from opponents whilst the better headers of a ball prepare to make the clearance away.
Diallo is key in stopping David Luiz from moving out towards where the ball lands in the box but this part is actually part of the distraction from Saints.
Jack Stephens, Danny Ings and Jan Bednarek are key though. They start in a cluster on the edge of the penalty area and group defenders together.
Just before Ward-Prowse delivers, they all split off in different directions. Stephens shifts to the left, Ings down the centre and Bednarek moves right – opening up a huge amount of space for Stuart Armstrong, who Arsenal thought was not involved at all.
Now come the most important parts. Ward-Prowse’s corner kick is on the money as always but still requires an excellent, half-volleyed finish from Armstrong. The pace he generates on the ball means that Bernt Leno cannot keep the ball out.
With Saints 2-1 down at the time of writing, it remains to be seen whether this exquisite piece of creativity from the players and staff will count for anything.