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Proven attacker needed: Three things learned from Southampton loss to Sparta Prague

COMMENT By Harvey Byrne

Football Insider analyses three talking points from Southampton’s 1-0 loss against Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday evening.

A proven attacker is need in January

The Southampton team is crying out for a player that can bring some attacking flair to the side, while also being able to put the ball into the back of the net. Charlie Austin was said to be the replacement for summer departure Graziano Pelle, but that left the Saints with just one player who can score goals on a consistent basis. Additionally, the south coast club also sold attacker Sadio Mane in the previous transfer window. They sourced his replacements with Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal both joining, but neither have proven themselves able enough to replace the now Liverpool man. This means that Claude Puel must add someone who is proven in the Premier League to his team in the winter window.

Rotation policy is damaging team

Given that Southampton are competing across three demanding competitions in the Premier League, EFL Cup and Europa League, Puel is making a string of changes for each fixture. However, the team is being damaged because of it, as players aren’t learning how to play Puel’s tactics, nor are they building up partnerships together. Southampton have not won any of their last three fixtures in all competitions and Puel’s policy is preventing the team from starting a good run together. There is an example this week of Leicester making just one change for their Champions League match against Brugge, which they won 2-1 and topped their Champions League group. Meanwhile, Southampton made seven changes on Thursday evening and are now needing a win or a 0-0 draw in their last fixture against Hapoel Beer Sheva to qualify.

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Rodriguez won’t recapture pre-injury form

A sad story for a player who was once a genuine contender to make the England team for the 2014 World Cup. The Southampton staff even showed their faith in the 27-year-old by handing him a new four-year contract in 2015 while he was out injured with a long-term anterior cruciate ligament injury. However, two years on the player has not showed the electric pace he previously had, which caused so many problems for Premier League defenders in the 2013-14 campaign. He was heavily linked with a loan move away from St Mary’s Stadium to West Brom in the summer and if his performances this season are anything to go by then his future definitely lies away from Southampton.

In other Southampton news, why this Liverpool outcast would be perfect for the Saints.