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Ex Saints striker warns they may rue letting Jason Puncheon join Crystal Palace
That is the view of former Saints striker Gordon Watson ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League visit to leaders Liverpool.
But letting winger Puncheon decamp to Crystal Palace on a season-long loan has left Saints without balance.
“Defensively, we’ve been sound,” said Watson. “Lovren is a great signing – he can head the ball, he looks comfortable with it. His positional play is better than Yoshida’s, who has always defended behind the line and looks as if he’s always played as a sweeper.
“If you were being really picky, you’d probably have another defender like Lovren in place of Fonte.
“But the proof is in the eating and we haven’t conceded many goals.
“We have lots of midfielders who are comfortable on the ball.
“The balance of the play at Norwich wasn’t right, but we were a bit unlucky. Had we got a penalty and went 1-0 up, we might have won.
“If we go a goal up, we’ve got players who could turn us into the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of keeping the ball.
“But where’s your ‘out’ ball – somelike like Puncheon, who could hold onto it.
“I’m not saying Jason Puncheon is Wayne Rooney, but he was a key player for us because he offered us a different option.
“Where is the pace now coming through midfield?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they matched Liverpool,” Watson explained.
“I would not play Osvaldo and Lambert together away from home, for sure.
“I’d play Lambert up top with Jack Cork coming in to play alongside Wanyama and Schneiderlin in a midfield three.
You’d have Adam out on the right and Rodriguez on the left because he’s stronger than Ramirez.
“Cork is one of the best passers of a ball we’ve got, along with Morgan.
“You could play them together with Wanyama, who is more of a piano carrier than a piano player.
“Wanyama is a top five club player, he would be ideal for Arsenal or Manchester United.
“The only mild criticism so far is that he’s won the ball, travelled with it, then passed it.
“He doesn’t need to travel with it, he just needs to pass it.
“He could potentially be one of the best around. If it was a choice of paying £12m for Ramirez or £12m for Wanyama, I’d pay £25m for Wanyama.
“They’re not in the same ball park.
“The midfield five I’ve mentioned is strong, but again – where’s the ‘out’ ball to someone like Puncheon.
“You have to question the balance of the side.
“It’s too easy to set yourself up against Saints at the moment.”
The Daily Echo reported earlier this week how Pochettino’s arrival has seen Saints tighten up considerably at the back, but only score 21 goals in 20 Premier League matches.
“Since Pochettino arrived, I don’t think we have been as attack minded,” Watson explained. “Rickie Lambert has ended up playing a Teddy Sheringham type of role.
“If you have Teddy in midfield, you’d need people with pace around him.
“That’s why Rickie looked good for England – he had Walcott on one side of him and Welback on the other, and there was also a runner from midfield.
“At Saints, who in the midfield would look to run beyond Rickie?
“Rodriguez has some pace, but I don’t know if the boy knows what his best position is yet.
“Is he a left winger, or is he a striker?
“I don’t think his best position is striker because he doesn’t lead the line – he’s not a natural goalscorer - and he’s not really a winger because he’s always looking to cut inside on his weaker foot.”
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