Southampton stare crisis in the face after injury woes

Artur Boruc

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino's strong start to the season looks in danger, after Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc was ruled out for six weeks.

It's natural to be disappointed when you don't get what you want for Christmas. Not many Saints fans would've wanted to even contemplate entering the festive period without Artur Boruc.

This is however exactly the position they find themselves in.

The Poland and Southampton stopper has been sidelined for six weeks after breaking his hand in Sunday's 3-1 loss at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

During the scoring of the first goal, Boruc fell into his post, breaking his hand. He was forced to withdraw from the action after just 59 minutes, being replaced by former Argentinian goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

With the scores tied at 1-1 when Gazzaniga entered the fray, the Saints succumbed to a 3-1 loss courtesy of goals from Chelsea skipper John Terry and Senegalese striker Demba Ba.

With fellow goalkeeper Kelvin Davis also sidelined, all eyes turn towards the inexperienced Gazzaniga.

The twenty-one year old Argentine hails from the same town as manager Mauricio Pochettino, the rural community of Murphy in Santa Fe.

Gazzaniga has made just thirty professional appearances, with twenty of those coming for then League Two side Gillingham.

He came under heavy criticism last season when Southampton endured a torrid start to the Premier League season after a policy of rotation was adopted by former manager Nigel Adkins, who signed the young stopper.

He now faces a spell of seven to nine games in which to impress boss Pochettino, after Boruc was ruled out until mid-January.

This run of fixtures begins with the visit of Aston Villa to St. Mary's on Wednesday night, before a tough fixture against free-scoring Manchester City.

Gazzaniga made his league debut for Southampton against the same opponents last season, with the Saints running out 4-1 victory over Paul Lambert's men to seal their first victory of the season.

However, a bright start was marred by a few high-profile errors.

Gazzaniga memorably passed the ball to a pressured Maya Yoshida when Southampton were leading Swansea 1-0, allowing Nathan Dyer to score the equaliser.

This was compounded when the keeper spilled a Robert Snodgrass free-kick into the back of his net, despite looking far from danger.

The biggest criticism aimed at Gazzaniga was that he lacked the necessary command of his area, with Portuguese defender Jose Fonte explaining at the time that the Argentine had limited understanding of the English language.

Southampton fans will be hoping that after another year in the country, that this issue can be rectified in the absence of Artur Boruc.

It would be unfair, however, to claim that Gazzaniga's performances in the Southampton goal were devoid of positives. He demonstrated great distribution, with his famed pinpoint kicking, as well as proving himself as an adept shot-stopper.

Southampton did however become upwardly mobile once Gazzaniga had exited the side in favour of former Celtic keeper Artur Boruc.

Pochettino's frustration was compounded when influential French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was also forced to withdraw following a challenge which appeared to leave him groggy as he left the field of play.

Just how far Gazzaniga has come since last season remains to be seen.

The answer to this question should be clear by the new year.

image: © celticphotos

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