What is James Ward-Prowse? Does James Ward-Prowse know what he is?
For the last few Southampton managers this has been a rather unsolvable conundrum, Mauricio Pochettino probably came closest to solving the puzzle; utilising him as a right midfielder. However Nathaniel Clyne was key to this decision. JWP is not blessed with natural pace or strength, in his time at Southampton Clyne played in a very advanced role, especially under Pochettino where he was given license to break forward at will. Ward-Prowse would fill in behind the flying full back and then be positioned to deliver crosses from deep wide positions.Embed from Getty Images
Under both Koeman and Puel he found himself utilised as more of a squad player, both managers struggled to decide what position he should play. The issue being that JWP is too lightweight and isn’t strong enough in the tackle to play a deeper defensive midfield role. The temptation has been to play him in a conventional no.10 role however he is not quick enough nor does he have the ability to turn and run at a player, and for me doesn’t ask enough of the opposing defensive midfielder or centre half to occupy this role.
Ward-Prowse has undeniable quality, his passing range and set piece delivery are technically superb. However his overall game contribution has been put under the microscope early this season, managing just 12 touches when playing at the no10 Position against Watford.Embed from Getty Images
Was Sunday’s 4-1 home demolition of Everton the turning point for Ward-Prowse under Pellegrino? The Argentine played JWP on the right of a three behind Charlie Austin, a similar role to that he played under Pochettino. It is a position that I believe brings out the best qualities in him and full back Cedric Soares who is allowed to progress high up the pitch.
Ward-Prowse brought some much needed balance to the attacking midfield which had been very lacklustre so far this season. The interchange and movement between himself, Dusan Tadic and Sofiane Boufal was superb and caused Everton’s back line plenty of problems.
With Nathan Redmond’s continued inconsistency this is a big chance for Ward-Prowse to prove that he deserves to be in the Saints starting XI on a regular basis.