Saints' progression stunted -- Pochettino must find solutions
Picking the bones out of Saints' 0-0 draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday is nothing short of frustrating, disappointing and miserable.
In two fixtures against a poor Villa side, Southampton have averaged 73 percent of the possession and had 24 shots on goal yet have come away with just one point. Frankly, that isn't good enough, and these poor results (despite on the pitch dominance) against lesser opposition are the barrier between progression from a good side to a great side.
Times have changed and admittedly they have progressed rapidly over a short space of time, but that doesn't excuse not putting teams like West Ham, Sunderland, Cardiff and Aston Villa to bed when you have them by the throat.
- Report: Aston Villa 0-0 Southampton
Do Aston Villa deserve credit tactically? Yes, to a certain extent they do, but the visitors still had the chances to win both games, so there is an element of luck to Paul Lambert's philosophy. In addition to luck it is also incredibly brave. For a team like Villa to be setting up like that in a home game is nothing short of disgraceful and I can't imagine the Holte End will put up with it for long.
Mauricio Pochettino needs to address this stutter in the summer because such a situation has reared its ugly head on more than one occasion this campaign; be it a psychological issue or an end of season lack of desire. Whether it is the profound effect of Jay Rodriguez' injury that is perhaps understandable or certain players holding back to protect their World Cup dream, I don't know, but it has to stop.
You will struggle to find another club that is more supportive of its players getting international recognition. This isn't Manchester United or Liverpool who would rather their players didn't have the inconvenience but the players must remember that they are first and foremost Southampton players. Without Southampton, there would be no England.
I actually don't think that is necessarily the biggest issue; there is a problem tactically too. Saints' build up play is up there with Liverpool's as the best in the Premier League this season, but there is one major difference. They are lethal when they approach the 18-yard box and Pochettino's men are not. Why is this? Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana have nothing to prove in terms of their finishing ability but sometimes it feels like they are held back in favour of the patient build up. It feels like Lambert in particular needs to be given the freedom to shoot from distance more, something as a team Saints do relatively infrequently.
Food for thought as the summer preparations begin. A new striker is essential.