Southampton’s defence has been impressive all season, and their fine record is made even better by the fact that a number of different players have occupied positions in the back-four recently.
While Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand are seemingly Ronald Koeman’s first-choice options, the likes of Maya Yoshida, Matt Targett and Florin Gardos have all stepped in successfully and the later impressed when he came on as an early substitute this weekend.
Targett started the match at left-back in place of the suspended Bertrand, but he was replaced in the 26th minute against Queens Park Rangers following a head injury.
Such changes could have bred uncertainty in the Southampton back-line, but as has so often been the case this season they held firm, not only keeping yet another clean-sheet but ultimately winning 1-0 courtesy of a last-gasp strike from the impressive Sadio Mane.
While it was the explosive forward who took the headlines, Gardos gave a fine display of his own.
|Interceptions Won||Duels Won||Effective Clearances||Effective Headed Clearances||Outfield Blocks||Aerials Won||Mins Played|
As you can see from the statistics above, the Romanian defender won three interceptions and made one outfield block. He also won 15 battles (10 on the ground and five in the air) while he made a total of 10 effective clearances.
In short, Gardos played an important role in another Southampton shut-out and it is that strength in depth and team ethic that bodes well not just for the rest of this campaign but for what appears to be a very bright future at St Mary's.