Opinion

Yoshida needs to replace leaky Jack Stephens in defence to rescue Saints’ season

Yoshida needs to replace leaky Jack Stephens in defence to rescue Saints’ season

Southampton are on the verge of Premier League relegation, despite the boardroom’s positive move to recruit of Ralph Hasenhüttl – so what can the Austrian do the salvage the Saints’ season?

Their 0-2 defeat at the Emirates the other day makes it six games in a row without a clean sheet and contributes to a more alarming record of only five in 27 league games.

Shocking stuff for any side who have hopes of survival.

Jack Stephens, who’s been a feature at the heart of Southampton’s diabolical defence this season, added another poor performance to his collection on Sunday.

The former England under-21 man only managed 45 minutes and was responsible for Arsenal’s second of the game before being taken off at halftime. His distribution was extremely poor, his positional awareness was way off what is required at this level, and his commitment is withering.

This most recent display of ‘defending’ has prompted fans and critics alike to explore the prospect of using more capable options. But who?

Maya Yoshida is surely the man for the job now he’s back in contention.

Japan international Yoshida is one of the longest-serving players in the current Southampton squad and has proved himself, season after season, to be a very capable Premier League defender.

His last appearance for the Saints before leaving on international duty with Japan was the last time the club kept a clean sheet – a 0-0 draw in which Yoshida won Man of the Match for his valiant efforts – and it’s evident they’ve been missing him ever since.

Something new (and experienced) is desperately needed.

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