Southampton will be without Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong again as they prepare to take on Manchester City on Saturday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed that both players will miss out this weekend with respective thigh and calf problems after also being unavailable for last week’s goalless draw with West Ham. More positive news was also given after the returns of Will Smallbone and Shane Long to training.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Hasenhuttl said:
“The positive thing is that Will is in the team session the whole week now, he looks good and is very happy that he’s back on the training ground with the team. Longy is also back in the squad since yesterday, but Walcott and Armstrong are still out with injury, so it will take a little bit of time to come back for them.”
Will Southampton boss Hasenhuttl remain with his 4-1-4-1 for this weekend
Looking back at Saints’ draw with West Ham, some things certainly looked promising.
Hasenhuttl’s experiment with a 4-1-4-1 system made his side look very solid defensively as they gave the Hammers and Michail Antonio in particular very little to work with, but nothing much was created at the other end until the introduction of Armando Broja late on.
The biggest takeaway from the game was the limitation of creativity from the opponent though. Saints kept it tight between the lines and looked well-covered at all times with Oriol Romeu patrolling in front of the defence as James Ward-Prowse and Moi Elyounoussi operated further forward.
Given that Saints have had a tough time and have often been put to the sword against Manchester City, the improved defensive resilience could hint that Hasenhuttl will use his 4-1-4-1 formation once again.
There are a number of tweaks he could potentially make to make things even more solid for Saturday too.
Fielding Kyle Walker-Peters at right-back and pushing Tino Livramento into a right-wing role would give some defensive stability against City’s left flank – potentially featuring £100m man Jack Grealish.
The combination of Moussa Djenepo and Romain Perraud would also do the same, whilst putting Ibrahima Diallo into the team instead of Moi Elyounoussi could add some extra steel in central areas.
Che Adams could also be recalled to provide hold-up play upfront when Saints need an out ball. Armando Broja may need to wait another week for his first league start for the club but will surely get more minutes late on against City.
Saints predicted line-up (4-1-4-1)
Alex McCarthy; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jack Stephens, Mohammed Salisu, Romain Perraud; Oriol Romeu; Tino Livramento, James Ward-Prowse, Ibrahima Diallo, Moussa Djenepo; Che Adams