I was a late attendee to this game having brought a ticket Thursday morning having travelled to St. Mary’s twice before seeing Albion win 3-0 and draw 0-0 last season I did call it Saturday morning, a 3-0 loss. However, as a friend pointed out, if we can get a 0-0 with Jason Davidson and Ideye Brown, could we get a result with the current crop.
No real shocks, however an ageing Albion side probably could do without games so close together. Craig Gardner was handed the James Morrison role while Sessengnon was preferred to Brunt. Anichebe was given a run up top, last season he was awful at this stadium so every baggie was hoping the Nigerian would provide a Newcastle esk performance.
Southampton had a few academy graduates in their side, all of which seem grateful to the club and stay out the headlines. Almost like they produce not only good players but good people when they get their opportunity. Then again, their catchment area is big enough to find gems.
Started early as expected, defensive, deep and without the ball. Southampton had all the ball so it was of little surprise when Saido Mane won a free kick for a tackle by Craig Dawson, no arguments on the decision. James Ward-Prowse swung the ball over the wall and past Boaz Myhill who didn’t cover himself in glory, I know it’s wall side but he definitely moved left which didn’t help, it wasn’t a worldie free kick, saveable in my opinion.
From then Albion’s back foot approach didn’t change, Anichebe isolated and useless up front, Southampton with some decent quick play to get the ball out wide and then back inside, creation of space with movement and such that Albion were bereft of.
Shane Long was running past and beyond Albion with ease, the kind of willing runner that Tony Pulis has always admired and the type of player Albion have lacked under his leadership with the Irishman winning throws ins, corners and free kicks to push Southampton up the field. Meanwhile whenever Albion managed to gain the ball they struggled to keep it with everything coming straight back at Olsson and McAuley.
Jonny Evans was being pressed well whenever on the ball along with Darren Fletcher, Saints not allowing Albion’s two best ball players any time on the ball to pick their passes and when they did get it forward Albion lacked anyone to hold the ball with Southampton defenders having an easy afternoon.
In fairness, Albion were growing into the game, Gardner had, had a header fall wide and a couple of moments where Sess and McClean had opportunity to get a ball in but the pair lacked any end quality with Sess often trying too much. A possible penalty/free kick decision went against Albion as Gardner went down under Ward-Prowse challenge, at first glimpse from the other end of the pitch it looked a dive, his dramatics going down didn’t help.
With 10 left in the half Southampton made it 2-0 as they moved the ball across the pitch Albion were stretched and Matt Tarrget got in the box and went down softly under pressure from Craig Dawson, penalty? Yes. Ward-Prowse didn’t send Myhill the wrong way, the Welshman dived at kick off I think he went so early allowing Saints an easy 2-0 lead.
It should have been 3 soon after Targget himself had a low drive blocked by James McClean on the line. Albion looking laboured at best.
From then it looked as if Sess was playing up top with Anichebe in a 3-5-2 (Evans, Olsson, McAuley at the back) it still didn’t help Albion create anything in a half to forget for Dawson who basically assisted the two goals!
An injured Darren Fletcher was taken off for Chris Brunt who played centrally and well I may add along with Jonas Olsson as Solamon Rondon partnered Anichebe up front.
Chances in the half came at a premium for both sides, Southampton happy with their lead and Albion struggling to get through the home side who were able to create chances on the counter when required with Saido Mane rolling a shot wide.
You could see Albion were trying but the front two looked lost at times with the pair unable to trap a bag of sand as Sess brought was taken off for Saido Berahino, a player who had his name sung by the travelling fans throughout.
The third came in a counter attacking style as the home side won the ball on half way with Dusan Tadic who simply ran and ran until he got into a shooting position and fired across Boaz Myhill.
Anichebe had a shot on the turn fly wide as the travelling support got frustrated and sarcastic in equal measure, as Southampton fans sang “You’re going down with the Villa” odd given they’re a side that were level on points at the start of play. Albion fans simply responded with “We’re ****** ****” and “We want a shot.” Everytime Albion managed to find a good position they were offside or Southampton would clear at ease.
Rondon had an effort blocked and Brunt fired wide in an attempt that saw Albion fans run with the chant of “let’s pretend we scored a goal” a dismal display from those in the blue and white stripes.
Nice to see Pulis open and honest regarding the performance levels although the idea we lost due to a run of away games is total rubbish. Albion were so far off the pace they barely arrived on the south coast at full time.
Claudio Yacob could leave the ground with some dignity after what I thought was a decent display from the Argentine, unfortunately though one man can’t cover 10 others arses! Jonny Evans wasn’t to his usual standards but still would hit an average mark and Chris Brunt made a nice impact from the bench. We massively missed James Morrison so the news he faces two months on the side is a massive loss, even more so with Fletcher being injured too.
I’m off to Bristol City on Tuesday, I’m expecting XI changes and hopefully a shot on target after 0 against Southampton. It was an unacceptable performance from the baggies but if I sit here in a week and Albion have booked their place in the FA Cup 4th Round and sit on 29 Premier League points I think all may well be forgiven by most.
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