Southampton have been a work in progress under Ralph Hasenhuttl for much of the Austrian’s tenure because of many separate reasons.
Perhaps he does not have the exact players he desires to play his high-pressing style perfectly and is held back by player sales, or perhaps he is still working out how to implement his philosophy in the Premier League in the best way.
Whatever the case though, his new-look team may be starting to show signs of the press working well.
There are a number of instances from the opening two league games that could prove this.
Southampton creating goalscoring opportunities well with the Hasenhuttl press
Saints went down 3-1 to Everton on the opening day of this season but they did the hold the lead at half-time. Their goal came from intelligent pressing as two players in particular took advantage of Toffees’ centre-back Michael Keane dallying on the ball.
Keane’s decision to not play a pass at the first possible attempt saw Che Adams steal in and nick the ball from his toe, and the Saints man’s stab forward set up Adam Armstrong for a free run towards goal.
From there on, Armstrong’s finish was brilliant as he curled a shot around Jordan Pickford and found the top corner – Saints need to be as ruthless as possible when they create these openings for themselves.
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Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side also had great joy with their pressing against Manchester United. A 10-minute spell before their goal had seen a chance created for Armstrong, but then came the moment that proved crucial in securing a point for them.
They almost won the ball on a number of occasions just outside the United penalty box but the visitors to St Mary’s were able to clear out to Bruno Fernandes on the left. Not wanting to let their opponents out easily though, Saints kept pressing high and Jack Stephens was the one who stole the ball from Fernandes and snapped a pass into Moussa Djenepo in a central position.
Play was moved onto Armstrong and then Adams, who found the net via a healthy deflection. In fact, the goal has now been recorded as a Fred own goal, but it was created by the successful pressing that was implemented in the lead up.
Saints did have to see off some good chances for United to win the game after conceding in the 55th minute but they could have easily taken the win themselves.
Again, a chance was created by intense pressing. This time, Harry Maguire was caught in possession by James Ward-Prowse, and this allowed Che Adams to look up and play a first time through to Armstrong who had already begun his run between defenders.
His did not connect with his shot as he would have intended and instead forced a save from David De Gea in the middle of his goal when both corners were probably reachable – another moment that shows that Saints need to have strong final product once their pressing pays off to get maximum points.
There can be no doubt that things look positive in terms of applying Hasenhuttl’s style on the pitch though and it seems like the signings that have been made also fit in to this very well.