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Southampton: Why Yan Valery should start against Wolves

The young-Frenchmen made a return to the starting line-up against Chelsea; and yet having a hand in Southampton’s only goal during their heavy 4-1 defeat at home, Valery had a mix of appreciation and criticism from the fans.

The 20-year-old had not featured in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s starting line-up since the 2-0 victory on the road at Brighton & Hove Albion, and it had been thought that Valery was potentially suffering from an injury that was picked up in the process of that game; being on the end of a over-the-top challenge from Florin Andone.

Since then fellow team-mate Cedric Soares has vacated the right-back spot, and has rightfully held his place in the starting line-up due to good performances; Southampton only losing one of the five games that the Portuguese has started.

But due to the former-Sporting player picking up an injury in the warm-up before the Spurs game, Valery has been given the chance to prove his worth once again.

His introduction back into the first-team against Chelsea was highly sought after, mainly due to being the only natural right full-back besides Soares; and the 2-1 loss in the mentioned Spurs game, in which James Ward-Prowse was utilised as a wing-back but underperformed.

Going onto the game at St. Mary’s against the Blues; Valery had a mixed game. Despite not being attributed with the assist for Danny Ings goal in the first half versus Chelsea; the French-man made the opportunity for the striker out of practically nothing, dribbling past multiple players to cut the ball in-front of the opposition’s goal.

The defender is a very capable attacker; and has shown his capabilities going forward so far this season and the last since Hasenhuttl’s arrival on the south-coast, in particular his 0.5 key passes pg (per game) and 1.3 dribbles pg this campaign, during Sunday’s game this number shot-up to 3 dribbles which helps to highlight this train of thought.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – MAY 12: Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield Town controls the ball in front of Yan Valery of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Huddersfield Town at St Mary’s Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

However in terms of the defensive side of the right-back’s game; conceding four goals at home to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side only showed off Southampton’s inability to defend, but to only single Yan Valery would be of harsh criticism as against the London-side the French-man managed to win two aerial duels, and win four tackles. To add, Angus Gunn and Jan Bednarek made notable mistakes that attributed to the heavy defeat.

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The second-goal conceded on Sunday was mentioned to be of Valery’s mistake by multiple fans, having over-committed on the flank left Oriol Romeu to drop-in behind and slot next to Jan Bednarek; however the two of them failed to tighten up to stop Mason Mount being played-into the box to help fire Chelsea 2-0 up.

It is easy to mention Yan Valery as the obvious culprit of the goal, however without taking the tactics into account, it might not be wise to criticise the 20-year-old.

On the day; Southampton set-up to take more risks, and to try to put the opposition on the back foot as mentioned by Ralph Hasenhuttl, “Today we wanted to take more risks. Against the other teams we were a bit more passive so what I think is absolutely necessary is to find quicker decisions and have a quicker mind after we win the ball to create something.”

Therefore it could be argued that Valery was encouraged to commit higher-up the pitch and in result space would have been exploited in-behind the young full-back; and in playing the 4-2-2-2, Southampton would have been overrun and backline stretched – hence the scoreline and lead up to conceding the second-goal.

Moving onto the next game against Wolves and with Cedric Soares potentially still injured; Yan Valery should keep his place in the starting line-up due to adding balance to the defence in being the only right-sided full-back, but to aid in his defensive weaknesses, Hasenhuttl should switch to a safer-system.

Next: Southampton 1-4 Chelsea: Premier League – Key Takeaways

Southampton have performed better using a 5-2-3 or 4-3-3, and in particular when Valery featured last campaign; the 5-3-2 utilised the young French-men’s attacking strengths and allowed him the creative freedom to push forward; whilst having an extra defender to cover in-behind him.

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