The Athletic journalist Jacob Tanswell is fearful that the continued concession of goals from set pieces could ‘cripple’ Southampton‘s season.
The Lowdown: Southampton beaten again
After a first half which was interrupted by the appearance of a drone flying overhead the St Mary’s pitch, the Saints thought they had taken the lead through James Ward-Prowse on 62 minutes, only for the goal to be harshly disallowed after a VAR review.
Southampton’s misery was compounded 15 minutes later when Ollie Watkins steered a header past Gavin Bazunu for Villa’s winning goal, doing so without any pressure from the home team’s defence.
The Latest: Tanswell rues Southampton’s set-piece problems
Tanswell was providing Twitter updates at St Mary’s this afternoon, and he was left frustrated by the manner in which the Saints gave up the decisive goal, highlighting their set-piece deficiencies as a recurring theme.
In the aftermath of Watkins’ goal, he tweeted: “#SaintsFC issue from defensive set-plays is too big to ignore. Threatens to cripple what Southampton and Jones are trying to build. Has played a huge role in why Southampton are bottom and could be decisive at the end of the season.”
The Verdict: Southampton must sort it out
Although Southampton may justifiably feel aggrieved by the decision to disallow Ward-Prowse’s goal, which would have given them the lead, they only have themselves to blame for giving Watkins far too much freedom to strike at the other end.
Tanswell is quite right to highlight the continued concession of goals from set piece situations. As per information from Opta for The Analyst, Jones’ team had shipped eight goals from such a scenario in the 2022/23 Premier League prior to today, the third-worst tally in the division.
The Saints are far from doomed, with only three points separating them from 14th-placed Leicester after today’s matches. However, they remain rooted to the bottom of the table, and unless they address their evident set-piece failings, relegation will be a distinct possibility.
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