Before bringing Ipswich Town to St Mary’s, Saints manager Russell Martin faced criticism about his team’s defensive record.

Last season, Kieran McKenna’s troops were promoted from League One after scoring 98 points and losing only four games.

Ipswich have maintained their recent form, now sitting third in the Championship with five victories and one defeat in six games.

Martin’s Saints have a much larger budget, but they do not have the same momentum as their visitors following two severe defeats.

Southampton have conceded 16 goals in their opening six games, the most in the EFL and tied for the worst in the Championship.

Nine of them have come in the last two games, with Martin missing his two first-choice centre-backs due to injury one after the other.

Saints’ defensive problems have been ongoing for some time, and they have not kept a clean sheet in 24 games, despite conceding the most goals of any Premier League team last season.

Martin’s strategies are not, may we say, defensive in nature. Swansea City finished 10th last season under Martin, although only the relegated three and QPR conceded more.

Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Manning’s advanced responsibilities are typical of the approach, and Martin will not depart from his ideals.

However, speaking to the Daily Echo at Staplewood last week, he emphasized that constant modifications will be made based on the scenario – he adds that he is not naive to it.

Southampton’s goal will still be to outscore the opponent, but only Norwich, who scored four against Southampton, has scored more than Ipswich’s 12 in six games this season.

Goals are expected to be scored again, although goalie Gavin Bazunu should have gained confidence from his outstanding performance against Leicester.

Martin expects Jan Bednarek will be available for Saturday’s game against Ipswich, and a midfield shuffle is likely.

Can injury absences be used to redress the team’s balance?

Flynn Downes was pulled off with an injury after only one minute of the second half on Friday.

When questioned by the Daily Echo at full-time, Martin expressed concern about the extent of the injury and predicted that Downes would be out for some time.


Martin, who added that his players were “dropping like flies,” faced being without Sam Edozie if a knock he received was more serious – but that does not appear to be the case.


However, one of Martin’s main problems in the last two games has been an unproductive midfield.


Downes is clearly a fine Championship player, but relocating Shea Charles to defensive midfield could provide better midfield balance.

The Northern Ireland international is efficient at preventing the opposition’s transition, allowing Bednarek and Taylor Harwood-Bellis to concentrate on box defense.

It could be an opportunity for the 19-year-old to secure a starting berth in the near future. It would be a mistake to assign this responsibility to Will Smallbone instead.


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The midfield three will be interesting to observe, with stand-in captain Adam Armstrong presently completing the trio ahead of Charly Alcaraz and Stuart Armstrong.

How will St Mary’s respond to recent struggles?

Despite not producing the best results, everything seemed to be going swimmingly just over two weeks ago.

Despite the transfer uncertainties and ‘building in flight,’ Martin’s team had taken 10 points from their first four Championship games.

The shocking 5-0 loss at Sunderland, on the other hand, caused concerns, even if it could be attributed to playing just hours after a turbulent deadline day.

Saints needed to settle early against Leicester City and establish Martin’s stance that mistakes will be learned from.

Instead, while antagonism between away and home fans remained audible before kickoff, Saints self-destructed.

St Mary’s reacted after giving Leicester a lead in just 21 seconds and giving them the potential to extend it 15 minutes later.

Martin was clear after the game that he does not blame the fans in any way, but he conceded it became a difficult environment for his team to perform in.

The manner of the third and fourth goals has raised some eyebrows, and Martin’s team would undoubtedly prefer to be away from home tonight.

Ipswich have only lost once and won five of their first six games, and they will come to St Mary’s smelling blood.

After losing in the third minute at Stadium of Light, the first 15 minutes tonight will be critical in calming the irate fans.

If Martin’s team gives their opponents an early lead, the’scar tissue’ from last season, which the coach has previously addressed, risks being inflamed further.


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