Rafa has said we will go with an attacking mentality when we face the Saints tomorrow, and due to the nature of the game, there is really no other option. We will be facing a timid opponent who are struggling to score, and we could stretch out a four point gap to them with a win.
We head into the match though having scored two fewer league goals than the opposition which means something drastic has to change tactically if this isn`t going to be a 0-0, or at least tightly contested affair. So, here are a few things we could do to secure a vital win.
1) An intense press with the right personnel
It is a proverbial six pointer, and no matter how up for a game you are, fear can get the better of the best of us. Neither side will want to lose this match, and it could be played conservatively with very little between the teams.
If we start the game slowly, it could be a very difficult afternoon to score goals, so I am backing us to come out of the gates very quickly. We need energy on the pitch for this game with Dwight Gayle hopefully leading the line, and using his pace to close down our opponents from the first minute.
We need to rush our opponents and press the ball as high as possible to win the ball back in dangerous areas. This leads me onto my next point?
2) Playing with a genuine front three
If we are going to attack from the off as Rafa says, and we do win the ball back higher up the pitch, we need players to be there to capitalise on the chances.
Our main striker has been isolated too often this season, and if we do play with a three, the wingers have to be closely supporting our front man. When we faced Liverpool last week, it`s clear why the Reds score so many goals with Mane and Salah effectively playing as inside forwards, always in close proximity to Firmino.
No matter who of Ritchie, Murphy or Atsu plays, they need to have their focus on the final third of the pitch, rather than being too focused on the defensive shape.
3) Take Advantage of Set Pieces
We have scored seven goals from corners this season, and if it is a tight game, a set piece goal could be the difference between a win and a draw.
Southampton are not the weakest at defending corners, but they are not one of the strongest either, and I have no doubt the manager will have been working hard in this area during training this week. Let`s hope we can take advantage tomorrow.