Jack Stephens

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Southampton: ‘The whole country is laughing at us’

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Southampton’s players are still reeling from their shocking 9-0 defeat to Leicester City last week.

[ MORE: Saints donate wages after humiliation ]

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


Arsenal 3-2 Southampton: Welbeck gets last laugh

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  • Saints take early lead
  • Gunners claim advantage by halftime
  • Southampton remains 18th

Danny Welbeck‘s brace helped Arsenal defy the efforts of desperate Southampton in a 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Welbeck had just missed a sitter when he connected with the winner, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also scored for the Gunners.

Arsenal moves to within two points of fifth place Chelsea ahead of the Blues match with West Ham United (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Shane Long and Charlie Austin scored for Saints, who led 1-0 and drew level at 2-2 in the second half. Southampton remains three points back of safety.

Jack Stephens was sent off for Saints in stoppage time, and Mohamed Elneny was also shown a red card in the aftermath of the same scrum.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A goal line clearance came early, with James Ward-Prowse taking a feed from Shane Long and beating Petr Cech but not Calum Chambers.

And Long again threatened for pace moments later as Saints pressed for an opener.

So it was fitting when Long put Saints ahead, taking advantage of a sleeping Shkrodan Mustafi to cut to the near post and redirect a cross beyond the reach of Cech.

Arenal leveld in the 29th minute, with Aubameyang chopped the ball off the ground for a clever nutmegged finish past Alex McCarthy.

Welbeck made it 2-1 in the 38th, leaving McCarthy helpless with a deflected shot from an Alex Iwobi feed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka forced top end saves out of McCarthy in the first three minutes of the second half.

Long looked like he had restored the deadlock and the away support had a moment’s joy only to see the flag up. The Irish striker was offside.

Wesley Hoedt then forced Cech into a flying save with a 30-yard effort which may have been destined for the post.

Austin then scored a lunchpail goal, cutting into the box within 80 seconds of subbing into the game to force 2-2. It was a deserved equalizer.

Welbeck missed a sitter when Iwobi spied Wilshere at the back post. The ex-Manchester United man couldn’t get his leg in position to get the ball over the line (with Aubameyang ready for a tap-in, unbeknownst to Welbeck).

He’d get his goal in the 81st minute, stabbing home a header at the back post from an Iwobi cross.

Southampton 1-1 Brighton: Strugglers settle for point

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  • Saints sit 18th
  • Brighton 16th
  • Table’s 14th and 19th teams within one point

Glenn Murray‘s first half penalty kick was leveled by Jack Stephens‘ second half goal as Southern sides Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion drew 1-1 at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

Both sides won’t be sated by the draw, which leaves Southampton in the drop zone and Brighton just a point above it.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton was in control out of the gate on the road, and the match continued to stay off script when the Gulls were awarded a penalty.

Wesley Hoedt tripped up Solly March, and Murray converted from the spot to give Brighton a 14th minute lead.

The second half saw Saints go close to equalizing through a Stephens header, and it was that man who’d provide the needed leveler.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Bournemouth

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  • Southampton won 3-1 on Dec. 18
  • Bournemouth has never won at St. Mary’s
  • Saints lead all-time 12W-5D-7L

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe hopes 13 is the charm as his Cherries look for their first ever road win of a South Coast Derby at Southampton (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

St. Mary’s is the scene for Saturday’s late tilt, and Southampton has seen eight home wins and four draws in the 64-year history of the rivalry.

The Cherries and Saints are level on 33 points, though Bournemouth has played two more matches. Howe’s men are looking to build on their first consecutive PL wins in a year.

[ MORE: PL Preview — Merseyside Derby ]

For Southampton, it’s been all about new striker Manolo Gabbiadini. The Saints won’t have the 25-year-old Italian, who has netted six times in five appearances for the club.

Bournemouth has an in-form striker of its own, and Joshua King has been healthy. He at least a goal or an assist in four-straight PL matches, and has eight of his 11 PL goals since mid-January.

What they’re saying

Howe on Bournemouth striker Joshua King: “He is definitely up there as one of my best signings. Whether he is the best or not, I don’t know. The pleasing thing with Joshua is his potential is enormous. We feel there is a lot more to come from him. He’s improving rapidly, he’s making great strides and that is all down to his attitude and how he conducts himself every day.”

Saints’ Jack Stephens on the task at hand: “Bournemouth are a good side who like to keep the ball and play nice football so I think it’ll be a good match on Saturday. They’ve had a few good results of late so I think it’ll be a really good game.”

Prediction

The curse won’t be lifted, but there will still be some relief for Bournemouth in the form of a point. 1-1.

U.S. U-23 versus England U-21 preview: Young Yanks face Premier League cast at Deepdale

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The last time we saw the United States U-23 squad, the unit Andi Herzog will lead into Olympic qualifying next month, the Yanks were impressing at the Toulon Tournament.

After finishing second in its group thanks to a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, Herzog’s Yanks toppled England’s U-20 team in the third-place playoff.

[ MORE: Arsenal’s Ozil wouldn’t turn down Olympic invite ]

Now they head to Deepdale Stadium to face England’s U-21 side, one with a lot more firepower.

That said, the States’ roster will be a lot better, too. Out of the mix from the Toulon side are goalkeepers Charlie Horton and Tyler Miller, defenders Tyler Turner, Sam Strong and Jalen Robinson, midfielders Fatai Alashe and Daniel Metzger, and strikers Julian Green, Alfred Koroma Shams and Jordan Morris.

Into the fold? At defense, Spurs’ Cameron Carter-Vickers — who will square off with a few fellow White Hart Lane residents — joins the back line with Montreal’s Eric Miller, and RBNY’s Matt Miazga.

Molde standout Ethan Horvath and Freiburg backstop Zack Steffen join up between the sticks. Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman is back, joined by Rangers mid Gedion Zelalem, MLS standouts Matt Polster and Wil Trapp, and Chesterfield’s Gboly Ariyibi. Sion’s Maki Tall and Utrecht’s Rubio Rubin also hit the scene.

We’ve gone into England’s bunch already, but here’s a bit of a refresher as to which Premier League vets will meet the Yanks: Spurs’ Eric Dier, Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond, Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek are included in the squad for Thursday’s 2:45 p.m. ET match.

Only Sunderland keeper Jordan Watford, Brighton keeper Christian Walton, Wolves defender Kourtney Hause, Southampton back Jack Stephens, Sunderland midfielder Duncan Watmore, Manchester United striker James Wilson and Arsenal forward Chuba Akpom return from the summer encounter.

Aside from the age advantage, the States will have more continuity on its side heading into the friendly. And the quality of player selected is comparable to England to say the least.

Both teams will have a lot of creativity in the midfield, and where Gareth Southgate uses Eric Dier will go a long way in determining who has more steel in the midfield. And will the States’ backs be able to hang with Ibe and Redmond?

Should be a heck of a friendly at Preston North End. We’ll peg it for a 2-2 draw.