Portsmouth head into their highly anticipated Carabao Cup clash against Southampton in largely inconsistent form, with the Fratton Park outfit having failed to have picked up a victory in their last five league games, a run that has seen Pompey manager Kenny Jackett come under increasing scrutiny from the club’s supporters.
Tuesday night’s clash with their south coast rivals could provide the perfect tonic for Jackett as he seeks to mastermind a giant killing against a Southampton side who have also struggled for much of this season. The Premier League outfit having picked up just seven points from a possible 18 up for grabs, winning just two games thus far.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side will be hoping to avoid a potentially damaging defeat to their arch rivals, with the Saints having lost to another of their local rivals, Bournemouth, on Friday night.
With the stakes as high as ever in this cup clash and Southampton currently struggling for a consistent run of form, we picked out THREE Southampton flaws that Portsmouth can look to exploit tomorrow night….
Defending against attacks from out wide
Southampton have displayed a tendency to be vulnerable at defending against opposition attacks down the flanks, with Bournemouth exploiting this time and time again on Friday night, with Harry Wilson’s goal showcasing the Saints’ poor organisation when defending against crosses and cut backs into their box.
Kenny Jackett should look to exploit this weakness by asking Ronan Curtis and Ryan Williams to stay high and wide to get crosses into the box and provide opportunities to run at the Southampton full backs whenever the opportunity arises.
This will help to aid Portsmouth from not only an attacking point of view but also defensively as Southampton are likely to use both of their fullbacks as outlets when on the attack, particularly when the option to overlap becomes available.
Weak at winning aerial duels
Another Southampton weakness that Pompey should look to exploit is their tendency to lose out in aerial duels. This is a negative trait of Southampton’s team which will serve Portsmouth well, particularly as Pompey possess great strength from attacking set pieces, with the likes of John Marquis and Brett Pitman being well know for their aerial presence.
Jackett should look to instruct Marquis or Pitman to sit on one of the Southampton full backs from Portsmouth’s goal kicks, as this will give them the best chance of winning aerial challenges, particularly because of the small size of both Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand.
Whilst it will also allow them to win flick ons and bring other players into play more effectively than going up against the likes of centre half Jannik Vestergaard in the middle.
Tend to commit individual errors
Lastly, Pompey should look to press high up on the Southampton defence when they are attempting to play out short from goal kicks, as the Saints have made a habit of committing individual errors this season.
By pressing high up the pitch, Southampton will be forced to play the ball long, thus playing into Portsmouth’s hands because of their lack of aerial presence and strength when competing for the ball in the air.
However, if Southampton are able to play out short from the goal kick, Jackett should instruct his attacking players to cut off potential passing angles and force the play into the centre of the field where they have more strength in numbers than Southampton, thus allowing them to win the ball back quickly.