For the past season and a half, Southampton F.C. have had an issue scoring goals. Exemplified during their run of six league home game without a goal, it cost Southampton fans £31.82 per goal to see their team score at home last year. Whilst there is still quality at the club, with players such as Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini both proven goal scorers, they have not produced so far this season at the South Coast.
Change the formation
Both Claude Puel and Mauricio Pellegrino have followed the Southampton way, switching between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-1-2-3 depending on the opposition. This was a tactic that proved successful in the past due to the strong hold up play of strikers such as Rickie Lambert and the aforementioned Graziano Pelle. Southampton lack a striker who can hold the play up for attacking players such as Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond, and have struggled as a result.
A possible alternative for Southampton could be a switch to the in-vouge 3-5-2, which has led to success for both Chelsea and Tottenham in recent months. Instead of playing on the wings, as Southampton have done for a number of years, a change to playing down the middle could lead to more goals. With holding players such as Romeu and Lemina protecting the defence, the front three will have more free reign to play in the opposition third. Coupled with the bursting runs of Southampton’s wing backs, we could once again see goals at St. Mary’s.
Sign a target man
As mentioned previously, Southampton have relied on a target man in recent years to hold up the play and win balls in the box. This led to a lot of wing play from Southampton with attacking players such as Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic often receiving support from overlapping full backs.
The same attacking play is still in place today, however, the target man isn’t there to win the ball, leading to attacking moves being easily cleared by the opposition defence. This is a problem that permeates throughout the attack, with the strikers and the attacking midfield both small in stature. This has often led to Virgil Van Djik playing as an auxiliary striker come the end of the game, as Southampton desperately look for a goal.
Signing a striker of this mould is easier said than done, however, the options are there. The emergence of Chris Wood at Leeds, and now Burnley, show that affordable goal scorers are still available, and with Southampton’s “Black Box”, there must be one or two that’s been scouted in Europe.
How do you think Southampton could end their struggles in the final third? Let us know in the comments below!