Ralph Hasenhuttl is happy with how his Southampton side have tightened the defence and remedied their “biggest problem” last season.
Saints were leaky at the back throughout last term, but in the opening exchanges of the manager’s first full campaign at the club, there has been a marked improvement in their displays in the defensive third.
Southampton have, for the first time since 1986, recorded three straight away victories in all competitions without conceding a single goal following their 1-0 win at Sheffield United on Saturday.
Hasenhuttl, as quoted by the club’s official website, expressed his satisfaction with the work done to solve the team’s defensive woes. He said:
I think that was the biggest problem last season. This season it’s not the case that we don’t give them any chances, they still have chances because it’s very difficult in the Premier League to not give them a chance.
Read Southampton’s verdict
Hasenhuttl is quite right: we are still surrendering some presentable opportunities for our opponents, but we do look far more solid than we did throughout last season.
Reintegrating Maya Yoshida and Cedric Soares has been an inspired move from the boss, with both the experienced players providing the defensive unit with some much-needed composure.
Meanwhile, Jan Bednarek is continuing to prove his worth, while Jannik Vestergaard is gradually showing signs of improvement.
What has been most pleasing about the renewed solidity at the back, though, has been the consistency throughout different systems. Saints played in a 4-2-2-2 shape for much of their wins on the road against Brighton and Fulham, but have happily reverted to a five-at-the-back formation when required, and this much was displayed at Bramall Lane.
Whether or not we’ll keep clean sheets in upcoming Premier League matches against free-scoring teams like Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur remains to be seen.
However, with the team showing incredibly promising signs in the final third and collective improvement in their own, Hasenhuttl is right to take encouragement from what he has seen so far.