Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that he could change his team’s shape when they take on Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference yesterday, he said a change of shape was “possible” after the full week of training his side have had ahead of this weekend.
Hasenhuttl’s commitment to his tried and trusted 4-2-2-2 has been evident since midway through the 2019/20 season, but current injuries and a record-breaking run of six league defeats in a row may mean a change up for the foreseeable future.
When the Austrian arrived at St Mary’s to take the Saints job, he kept faith with the 3-4-2-1 that the team had been playing and this defensively solid setup eventually saw the club steer clear of relegation in 2018/19.
There are a number of ways that he could set his team up now as he looks to change Saints’ fortunes ahead of an important run of upcoming games.
A 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 for Hasenhuttl and Southampton?
The main issue that has arisen now is Kyle Walker-Peters picking up another injury. The 23-year-old is crucial to Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 system, providing defensive solidity on the right and a strong attacking force.
With no other recognised right-backs at the club for the rest of the season, a change to three of five-at-the-back could be what is needed once more.
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Jack Stephens, Moussa Djenepo and James Ward-Prowse can fill in as a right-back but more security could be found with a solid central three and wing-backs.
Looking at the potential systems that Saints could use, 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 would be options.
3-4-3 would give coverage in all areas of the pitch and potentially see Stuart Armstrong playing as a wide-midfielder on the right given his ability to help out defensively too.
Mohammed Salisu would provide a natural left-footed option as the third centre-back, whilst Danny Ings would have two wingers assisting him in attack.
5-3-2 would be more defensive overall due to the commitment of more numbers to the defence rather than the attack and would perhaps see more players playing out of position. However, it still remains an option that Hasenhuttl could move to.
Moussa Djenepo would play as a wing-back, Stuart Armstrong would play as the left central-midfielder and Nathan Redmond would continue his role upfront that has seen him influencing games more in recent times.
Alex McCarthy; Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard, Mohammed Salisu; Stuart Armstrong, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Ryan Bertrand; Moussa Djenepo, Danny Ings, Takumi Minamino
Alex McCarthy; Moussa Djenepo, Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard, Mohammed Salisu, Ryan Bertrand; James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong; Danny Ings, Nathan Redmond