Southampton’s players are still reeling from their shocking 9-0 defeat to Leicester City last week.
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The heaviest defeat in Saints’ 133-year history was also the biggest-ever away win in the top-flight of the English Football League, and equalled the largest ever win in Premier League history.
You get it, it was bad.
Speaking after their 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in the League Cup on Tuesday, Southampton’s goalscorer Jack Stephens admitted the past few days have been incredible tough for everyone involved with the club.
“It’s been a really tough few days, but not just for us, for everyone: the staff, the club, the fans and everyone in the city,” Stephens told BBC Radio Solent. “The whole country has been laughing at us and I’m sure there were a lot of people expecting us to concede a lot of goals against Manchester City. It was tough for us to come here, but I thought we showed a lot of character and fight. When it went 2-0 in the first half, after Friday, it would have been very easy to give up like we did on Friday. It was important that we stood up and stuck together.”
Umm, Jack, hate to be the bearer of bad news but the Leicester game was broadcast across the globe and there are plenty of smart remarks about Saints across the world right now. Not just the UK…
Saints can take little solace in the fact that an understrength City didn’t score more than three goals on them, but goalkeeper Alex McCarthy had to make several big stops and Southampton barely got out of their own half in the first half.
Confidence did start to come back, but only after Man City were 3-0 up and cruising and took their foot off the accelerator a little.
Next up for Southampton: Man City away, again, in the Premier League on Saturday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). So, they are expected to remain in the relegation zone and Ralph Hasenhuttl clearly has a huge job on his hands to repair the damage done at St Mary’s last week.
But on the horizon they do have games coming up which, at least on paper, you’d fancy them to get a few wins from. After another daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium this weekend to play Man City they face Everton, Watford and Norwich at home, with trips to Arsenal and Newcastle in their next five. Aside from Arsenal, those are teams all around them in the table.
The next few weeks will define how Southampton’s season will go. Are they going to feel sorry for themselves? Or are they going to dig deep and win three or four games to drag themselves out of the bottom three?
How could Saints lineup for that pivotal run of games? Here’s a look at a projected starting lineup, one which sees plenty of youngsters given their chance to replace players who have clearly failed to deliver week in, week out.
The likes of Bertrand, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Romeu and Long have been left out of the lineup below, with the focus being on youngsters given a chance and more attacking players selected. Hasenhuttl’s high-pressing system hasn’t been seen consistently this season and neither has his preferred 4-2-2-2 lineup.
In the projected lineup below only four players who started against Leicester remain…
Potential Southampton starting XI (Hasenhuttl’s preferred 4-2-2-2)
—– McCarthy —–
— Cedric — Bednarek — Danso — Vokins —
—- Hojbjerg —- Slattery —-
— Boufal — Djenepo —
— Ings — Redmond —
Subs: Gunn, Danso, Smallbone, Valery, Adams, Obafemi, Nlundulu