From early December, Southampton have been able to find consistent form in the Premier League which has pulled them away from joining the relegation scrap and now sit are now sitting comfortably in 10th place.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has been much praised for his work in turning his side’s fortunes around since the 9-0 mauling by Manchester United during the closing stages of last season. Sitting 5 places better off than last year already, the coaching staff definitely deserves to be credited as the Saints recent run of games show a special tactic being used to manage games more efficiently.
The Athletic suspect that Southampton’s consistent stoppages mid-way through the second half is the secret tactic at work that has enabled the side to enjoy a good run of form of late.
In most cases, these stoppages occur when a player goes down seeking the attention of the medical staff, which gives the team an extended short break. Saints players then use this time to huddle close to the bench for instructions from the coaches and to consume energy gels to maintain their energy levels.
In 14 of Southampton’s 24 Premier League games this season, a Saints player has gone down injured between the 60th-70th minute.— Dan Sheldon (@dansheldonsport) February 16, 2022
Their team-mates then go & consume an energy gel/drink.
Coincidence or plan? #SaintsFC @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/G60KFO0OB6
In the 73rd minute against Spurs, Armando Broja went down during the build-up of Kane’s goal to put Spurs ahead. The play was then paused as the striker limped off the pitch during which the team regrouped along the touchline to utilise the stoppage.
Against both City and United, there were substitutions in the 71st minute which was again utilized by the team to then hold on for a draw in those respective games.
After making a sub in the early 70 minutes, Southampton have only conceded twice in the league against Wolves and Brighton both of which were stoppage-time strikes.
Barring the fantastic comeback win against Spurs, the Saints have also held on to draw games in the second half against top 4 sides, losing only to Arsenal in December.
There’s enough evidence to suggest that The Atheltic are right in spotting a secret manoeuvre at play here from Hasenhuttl and his men and that it is clearly working. Saints fans would now be hoping that this would give the required push for a top-half finish this season.