Southampton’s form in the Premier League during the current campaign has been inspiring to say the least. With 4 players being drafted into the England squad from nowhere, the main man who has earned himself 3 caps is Adam Lallana and with performances such as the one against Palace at the weekend, he will surely find himself on the plane to Brazil this summer.
Hard work and graft are key components to the Captain of Southampton’s game. This is illustrated through his defensive work and although being positioned behind the striker at the weekend, Lallana won possession a total of 3 times and all within the defensive third. A player that often shows his passion for his team in a well disciplined manner managed to go in for ten 50/50’s (winning 50% of them) this high figure is one of the many reasons that playing Lallana in a central role, so he can influence Southampton’s play. Being involved constantly in these battles and with a high success rate, it generates motivation for the rest of the team, which was clearly displayed through Southampton’s fast direct attacking play vs. Palace.
Dictating so much of play on Saturday, Lallana found himself creating space using fast footwork and sharp turning. Providing himself with an extra 5 yards gave him more time to pick out the right pass, thus leading to a 90% open play pass completion (56/62). Not only were these successful passes but as seen in the Statzone diagram below there is a differentiated range from long to short balls being played across the park. The freedom that was allowed in his role during the game at the weekend often meant that Lallana was responsible for keeping possession within the final third, and therefore allowing gaps to appear within the Crystal Palace defence for him to capitalise on; gifting his advancing team-mates with opportunities to score. Making 21/24 passes within the final third and 5 of these creating a chance you would have thought the scoreline would have been bigger than a 1-0 win; however, the finishing just didn’t seem to come off, unfortunately for the Saints. A perfect demonstration of this is when the number 20 was surrounded by 3 defenders; he managed to stay composed, turning away from two of them and making a darting run enabling Lallana to swing in a dangerous ball towards the back post, which Palace where unable to clear properly and Rickie Lambert managed to get a terrific shot off, but it struck the post.
Lallana’s passing figures in the final third where better in comparison to the attacking zone, as his pass completion in the attacking zone is only 82% whereas in the final third the completion is 88%. Sitting just behind the striker enabled Southampton to use Lallana as a pivot, taking advantage of his creativity and the calmness used to hold the ball up then release it into wide positions with players overlapping, (35% left & 18% right), especially Luke Shaw, whom he found a total of 11 times. This link up play is a positive indicator for hopeful England fans that wish to see both appear in future lineups.
A possible improvement area for the 25 year old is that playing in such an advanced role and against lesser teams such as Palace you would hope he could use this game to improve his goal tally, and managing to get away zero shots on goal is certainly discouraging to the fans, maybe becoming a little more selfish could actually benefit the captain and he could do with showing the strikers how it’s done.
A good day at the office for the England and Southampton midfielder is what most football fans enjoyed watching as Adam Lallana is definitely a fan favourite and very few people have a bad word to say about the midfielder. Turning at speed and success in the final third can only please the Saints’ fans and leading by example should in turn lift them up a few spaces in the table and provide them with a higher position of which I believe they deserve.