Sunday, February 16, 2020

Premier League Match 26 - Southampton 1 Burnley 2

Southampton - Finding New Ways To Let Shit Goals in Since 1885

Burnley at home in what promises to be a fun fixture as it always is against Burnley RFC. It’s a game where a shit footballing spectacle can be guaranteed, usually ending in a 0-0 draw or a 1-0 win for Sean AllarDyche’s men. I make no apology from the fact that I would gladly see the back of them from the Premier League but every year they do okay and you have to have some sort of grudging respect for that.  At some point in the season they always have a massive slump and you think for about half an hour that this might be the year but they always sort themselves out in plenty of time to guarantee another season in the top flight. There is lots to admire about what Dyche has achieved but there is a lot to dislike as well.  I guess the crunch will come, like it did at Stoke under Tony Pulis, when the long serving manager leaves for whatever reason and the club has to decide to either carry on in the same way or try and change their style a bit.  It didn’t work for Stoke. Mind you, getting Mark Hughes to implement a change of style was probably not the best of ideas.

On the positive side, Jay Rodriguez is back at Burnley who are of course his hometown club. He has had to wait patiently for a chance in the team whilst the Bruise Brothers of Wood and Barnes started off the season but Jay has gotten the team recently with an injury to Barnes and has done pretty well including scoring an absolutely amazing goal at Old Trafford.  Jay is one of football is genuinely nice guys and I wish him every success. He is living proof of how football can be such a cruel game as he was on his way to great things with us when he got that injury at Manchester City which killed his chances of going to the World Cup and killed three of the prime years of his career. Also firmly in nice guy territory is Jack Cork who left Saints, like Rodriguez, for the right reasons in that he wanted to play more and he has been a mainstay in the midfield for a few years now and good luck to him. Elsewhere they have Nick Pope in goal who started the season poorly but has shown a massive recent improvement and is heading for a place in the England squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament.  On the negative side, they have some horrible fucking players, chief of which is of course Ashley Barnes who goes into a bulldog-licking-piss-off-a-stingling-nettle faced rage whenever a decision goes against him and virtually always manages to not get booked or sent off. They also Phil Bardsley who is a horrible fucker, Erik Pieters who they signed from the remains of Stoke City and Ashley Westwood.

Consternation all round as the team is announced and Vestergaard is in the starting line-up and Bednarek is on the bench.  I’m assuming that it’s to combat the long balls that we are going to be showered with and that’s fine but word comes through that Ralph thinks Jannik is better on the ball and ‘adds more in the red zone’.   Sound like more over-clever-over-thinking to me.  Elsewhere, Redmond is out presumed injured and Boufal starts with Kyle Walker-Peters coming in at right back as we try to bump his price up so Daniel Levy can sell him to someone else.

Away we go and we send it down the left and Hendrick wraps his arms around Long and shoves him out of play.  Good fair tackle and we’ll have a line out.  Oh hang on, it’s not rugby.  The referee Simon Hooper clearly thinks it’s the 6 Nations because he sees nothing wrong in that.

I’m rolling my eyes into my head as Burnley go straight up our end and win a corner on the left hand side.  Over it comes from Westwood and …. what the fuck has happened here? Everyone has stopped and then Ben mee has stuck in the net whilst the Saints defenders are all standing around looking at each other. What the fuck is happened here?   The 30 or so Burnley fans present don’t make much noise but the ref is pointing to the middle so it’s a goal.  What the fuck?  What in fact happened was that Westwood curled in an absolutely shite corner about 3 foot off the ground and Danny Ings left it and it looks like he and McCarthy might exactly the same misjudgement and expected it to curl into the side netting but it went straight in. McCarthy was stood in the fucking goal behind the line. Absolutely ridiculous and just what you do not want to do against opposition like this.

Saints actually respond quite well and take control of the game with it taking about 15 minutes to sort things out.  Ings tried to back-heel a ball through to Armstrong but it bounced back to him and he skipped around one player and smashed it low to the keepers left and it skimmed into the corner for a quite brilliant finish from the King of the Scummers to make it 1-1.

King of the Scummers Strikes Again

The wind, which is blowing straight in our faces is an issue with the long ball barrage from Burnley causing all sorts of problems from central defenders. Vestergaard, whose responsibility is to head most of the balls away the come towards our defence, is getting caught flat-footed on a number of occasions as he misjudges the path of the ball.  His task is made different by the fact that Wood has pulled up and Vydra is on in his place. Now Burnley have two strikers who are both quite quick and there really is a case for taking Groot off, especially as we are trying to push up.  Mind you – are Burnley going to play any differently?

Boufal is doing his best to inject life into the proceedings and spins past Hendrick only to be clumsily carted to the ground to get the Irishman the booking he deserved after three seconds. The freekick is knocked short to Boufal who switches it onto his right foot and knock it in from the left hand side which Stephens meets and flicks onto the crossbar and away. Straight away at the other end Vydra has a chance as Vestergaard goes under-10s and lets the ball bounce, meaning he gets no distance on his eventual header allowing Burnley to find the striker who thankfully scuffed it.

This game is fucking terrible.  No one is controlling the ball and it’s just being whacked into the wind and either holding up and going nowhere if we do it, or flying too far if they do it.  There’s little or no decent play and it’s just got worse as Boufal’s off to be replaced with Djenepo.  The referee is letting Burnley get away with murder.  Cork trashes through the back of JWP with a scissor tackle and I’ve seen those given as reds before but no card is shown.  If only there was a rule about holding players – oh there is – it should be a yellow card but no, play on chaps, we all like a good game of rugger.  Half time, pissing down, windy and horrible.

The second half starts badly and then goes downhill. Bertrand puts a half chance into the side netting and we don’t really look like we have much about us and thehn on the hour it all goes to shit as Hendrick picks up the ball on the right hand side and the player with absolutely no ability,  pings a diagonal ball into Vydra and he controls and spins Stephens in one move, jinks past KWP and then lashes it into the net left footed. Absolutely fucking brilliant goal to be fair.

We respond with fuck all really.  Burnley are still winning all the second balls and when they do get possession, we’re making them look like Man City.  They have more energy and desire about them than we do.  Ralph takes off KWP and puts on Obafemi and we go 3-5-2 with Djenepo and Armstring in the wide positions.  Doesn’t matter what formation you play if you play like we are though.  Nothing much has changed and we’re not creating anything. J Rod who has had a quiet game so far then has a little dive over a non-challenge from Vestergaard to try and get him sent off but a little fat twat with the whistle doesn’t give it.

Our most creative player is Jack Stephens who comes rampaging forward, beating about three players down the right hand side and eventually he crosses it and it hits Mee on the arm and bounces down. It’s a clear handball and should definitely be a penalty but the little fat bald twat of course doesn’t give it and even though it goes to VAR, you just fucking know they’re not going to overturn it, such is the way things are going for us at the moment. Here comes the decision, no handball. What a fucking joke.  Hits his arm, not really down by his side, so therefore he made himself bigger, killed the attack stone dead.  Wank.

The last move Ralph makes is to give up.  Shane Long has been crap today as he always is when there is no space behind the defence but as far as I’m concerned, we’ve officially given up when we take him off and bring Che Adams on. We are playing with absolutely no urgency for a team that is to one down at home with five minutes to go and we do not remotely look like scoring. Eventually the ball works its way out To Bertrand who crosses and it goes all the way to Hojbjerg on the right hand side he smashes it straight at the fucking goalkeeper for our first shot on target since the goal, 75 minutes ago.  Whistle blown, game over, cold, raining and we’ve lost at home to fucking Burnley again.  It was predictable in the extreme.

If Sean Dyche could choose what he wanted in terms of conditions to help him win a game as Burnley manager, he would choose absolutely shit conditions, preferably including wind and pissing rain and he would also choose an absolute soft touch lenient/incompetent referee/VAR set up. He got all those things and that undoubtedly helped them get the result. We, as Southampton fans can moan about all this, all we like but it doesn’t change the fact that we were fucking dreadful,  pretty much from the first minute. The first minute was when Danny Ings ridiculously left that corner instead of kicking it anywhere like the guy on the front post is supposed to do but once he’d done that, what the fuck was McCarthy doing 6 foot behind the line in the goal?

It was actually before that the Burnley's rugby tactics came to the fore for the first time.  It was actually from the kickoff as mentioned earlier. The fact the Burnley played rugby the entire game did not come as a surprise to me and it certainly shouldn’t of come as a surprise to the Saints players but we didn’t deal with it. We didn’t fight fire with fire and we didn’t concentrate on playing football. We got drawn into the game at the Burnley wanted to play which was scrappy as fuck and just did not suit us. There were a couple of patches of play in the first half where we did actually play some proper football and that was when we scored and looked like scoring again but other than that there didn’t seem to be any real game plan or intelligence in dealing with the opposition, the referee and the conditions.

We even had the gift of Wood having to go off so we didn’t have to deal with the physicality upfront that you normally have to deal with but Burnley kept on playing the same way and we just didn’t deal with it. Having convinced myself at the start of the game that I thought that playing Vestergaard might be a good move, I saw the error of my ways pretty quickly because he was fucking useless pretty much all game and with us trying to press forward, always looked like a liability. JWP and Hojbjerg didn’t win the midfield battle because there was no usual midfield battle to win because it was all about winnind second balls off the Burnley strikers.  The ball in the main bypassed the midfield which again should have come as no surprise. Burnley do actually play some football once they are within about 40 yards from the oppositions goal but deeper than that and they just belt it forwards and compete and if the ball does have to drop to them they do try and play.  Also, it was a brilliant winning goal I have to say.

This went in at the near post and the keeper had no chance.

We again showed our absolute cluelessness in how to attack against a deep defence. This is one thing that hasn’t changed from the start of the season and it is what is going to derail any fanciful notion anyone has of us finishing in the top half. Shane Long did next to nothing today and goal aside, Danny Ings was had one of those game where nothing really came off.  Boufal looks quite lively in the first half until he got injured but his replacement Moussa Djenepo did absolutely nothing. I can’t even remember him taking a player on once as he seem to be content just knock it sideways and backwards which is not what he was brought to the club to do. He now keeps the ball and plays it safe so all the attacking intent and flair that we bought him for seems to have been coached out of him. The loss of Redmond wasn’t such a huge deal with Boufal on the pitch but we really noticed it in the second half.

KWP had a solid enough debut I thought.  Not brilliant but not bad as he tried to do the right things and showed a couple of nice touches. On the couple of times he got forward far enough to make a cross, he showed Cedric levels of crossing quality (I don’t mean that in a good way) but defensively he looks solid enough even though he was targeted by Burnley because of his lack of height. As a full-back though he will be judged on what he does in terms of crossing the ball and defending. Just being a neat and tidy footballer isn’t enough to stand out as a Premier League full-back so let’s hope there is more to come from him.

Ralph didn’t have a good day. The Vestergaard thing didn’t work overall and any ‘red zone’ gain was not as great as the ‘defence zone’ loss.  The change of formation at the end didn’t make us look any more like we were going to score.  First sub Djenepo did very little and though they didn’t have long, both Obafemi and Adams didn’t add anything and our lack of second ball wins cried out for Romeu for the last half an hour. There seemed to be no game plan whatsoever to do to deal with what we knew was going to come from Burnley and what we knew was going to come from the weather. You’re not going to be able to win the ball up front against Burnley because they don’t pass the ball at the back. You might get a block in place for when they try and smashed the ball at the park but it’s just gonna fly after throw-in. The only reason they pass the ball in their own half is to try and manoeuvre space to woof it up the pitch.  Aside from Jack Stephens occasionally slaloming forward with the ball, we had next to no creativity from anyone on the pitch, especially after Boufal went off.  There seemed very little attacking intent from us and this is borne out by the fact that we managed a whole two shots on target all fucking game.

We may as well talk about the referee. Simon Hooper was fucking useless and as per the Dyche perfect scenario wish list, he was ideal.   Doing nothing for Cork’s scissor tackle on JWP from behind was a highlight. The repeated holding and pulling by the likes of Hendrick, Bardsley, Westwood and Tarkowski went virtually completely unpunished. Then of course you have the penalty shout. For the third game running on wondering what the fucking point is of VAR.  Today’s shout was less of a penalty than the ones we had at home against Spurs recently but in all three cases, for me, they all should have been given as the defenders have gained clear advantages by having their hands and arms in unnatural positions and making themselves bigger. It’s a fucking joke. It would help if the referees actually made some fucking decisions instead of preferring to give nothing and then have VAR back them up because the player hasn’t actually caught the ball with two hands and run off with it so it’s not a clear and obvious error. It’s not just the way that VAR is used that is the problem, it is also the absolutely horrific standards of refereeing in the Premier League. None of this is helped by the fact that as an attacker, you can’t even get away with the ball brushing your arm but as a defender you can seemingly do whatever the fuck you like.  The referees will no doubt have a conference about it now and decide to give handballs again and we’ll concede one next week.

When I got to the ground today, there was a guy sat behind me talking about the possibility of us maybe sneaking into Europe with Manchester City getting banned from the Champions League.  Let me ponder that one for a moment… we are still looking over our shoulders at the bottom three and I hope that no one who has anything to do with the club, thinks otherwise.

Next up – Villa at home.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

FA Cup 4th Round Replay - Tottenham 3 Southampton 2

No Words Necessary

Sorry this has taken a while.  I felt a bit jaded and decided to have a winter break for the FA Cup as it’s a shit competition which I don’t care about.  I knew that I’d have to write an FA Cup replay blog is we drew the first game and that it would impact my winter break but there you go.  This has been written by a collection of kids but I did Facetime them when they were half way through and everyone at the FA and in the media loves me, I can do what I want.


Spurs again in the FA Cup replay and a very expensive trip to the capital and the brand spanking new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Having charged their fans a tenner to come and watch the original game, Daniel Levy is charging us £25 to go up and watch the replay. The reason for this is nothing to do with the cost of opening the stadium or the fact that we are a fellow Premier League team. The reason is because Daniel Levy is the kind of twat who would sell his own family and buy a replacement on the cheap.  Saints could’ve taken 9000 tickets as dictated by FA rules but in the event only decided to take 6000 which, despite being 150% dearer than the first game, were snapped up. Are away fans are magnificent in their numbers and this is something that the club would do well to realise.

The Liverpool game in the league that we had on Saturday was sold out for away fans and the club showed their complete ignorance at a time when many potential away fans are pissed off about not being able to get tickets, by putting on their official YouTube channel, a fuxcking vlog showing Liverpool fans in the Southampton end and it was all happy and jokey and jolly japes.  They really don’t help themselves sometimes. Talking to the Liverpool game, I found a match report for their game against Saints on the Scouse version of this blog. Here it is.....

Yestidee de mighty Reds played us some shite from de South o' England. England is a country dat we’re not part o' cos we’re Scouse. Anyways, Yerrgen stewd and gorped at dem d'n their warm up cos 'e’s magic and we kicked off. De feeder club 'ad a few moments and dee actually got in us 'alf and Danny Ings, Reds legend wuz caus'n us miner grief but nowt dat Virgil, oo came through us youth system cos we breed greatness and don’t buy it in, sorted 'im out. Robbo’s accidental backpass wuz picked up by de worlds greatest keeper, oo wuz breeched ed over de Wirral cos we breed greatness and don’t buy in. 0-0 and Bobby gets assaulted by dat little Jack Russell Irish git they’ve got up front and it’s a deffo penno. It’s evun gone ter VAR and they’ve not givun it, it’s a fuck'n outrage, 'e’s fuck'n assaulted 'im. VAR and referees ay so bent against der Pewl try'n ter stop us march ter immortality. Kevin Friend – yer in Karius death threat tiritory. you’ll never walk alone yous bastard, I’ll be behind yous wi' a big stick and me da. We graft dem a few chances ter keep de game intiest'n and us Wirral breeched keeper saves everyth'n easily. Half time and we’re not winn'n. it’s a fuck’n conspiracy ter graft City de league. Five minutes into de second 'alf and Ingsy dives ter try and win a penno. I’m not 'av'n de disrespect – it’s norra penno because Ramos skint Salah’s shoulder. Anyroad, bent Kevin doesn’t graft it cos it’s a fuck'n dive and Bobby sets up dat promis'n Scouse kidda we developed called Ox, oo’s play'n instead o' Mane, oo comes from de African bit o' Merseyside and 'e scores. you’ll never walk alone, you’ll neahhhhhh…. oh or'rite Carra kidda, avyer spilt some milk? Luis Suarez is na a racist Jordan 'enderson, worlds greatest midfielder, goaaaaaaaal, you’ll never walk alone!!! Mo Salah… fly'n down de w'n, Ramos is a bastard, goaaaaaaaal. easy peasy this. they’re Arabian Night. we 'ad de Titanic and dee fuck'n sunk it. Mo Salah… wa' a finish kidda, 4-0, Fuck'n 'uv dat Pep.. You’ll never walk alone, you’ll nehhhhhhhhhh-ver walk alone. We’re gonna win de league – de beeskneesiest premier league ever and we’re de beesknees ever and this is wi' all referees and VAR and de Premier League and England be'n against us and de media and Sky Sports all 'ate us and dun write about us.

Anyway, Spurs got away with an act of robbery at the weekend when they basically got in Manchester City’s half twice and scored twice and won 2-0 – the Jose effect. One of the scorers, Bergwijn one is not available today as he was not available in the first game. It’s a shame those rules about eligibility didn’t apply to some way to Daniel Levy and his pricing. Kyle Walker-Peters of course can’t play for us for the same reason and also because he’s on loan from Spurs. Hopefully, Yan Valery is back from the dead or else we are going to have a severely out of position player at right back, be it either Danso or JWP.

… and the lucky recipient of the right back role is JWP with Romeu keeping his place in midfield.  The only other change is that Boufal starts ahead of Djenepo and there is a welcome return on the bench for Stuart Armstrong.

Saint start really well with Redmond breaking away down the left hand side and he gets his head up and pings are superb all over the top to Ings who takes one touch inside Vertonghen before drilling at straight at Lloris.  This is a really good opening and Ings did superbly until it was time to shoot.  He’ll be disappointed.

Spurs first attack shows what happens when you’re luck is in compare to when your luck is out. Stephens gets a superb tackling on Sessegnon to stop the initial attack but the ball goes out to Ndombele on the edge of the box and he hits a shot which is heading towards the corner flag until it hits Stephens who is still on the ground and spins past Gunn into the far corner. For fuck‘s sake, 11 minutes, 1-0 down.

Saints immediately set about putting the world to rights and after some decent play by JWP on the right hand side to retain the ball, he plays a superb curling ball outside the left back and Ings is clean through. Lloris stays at home and Ings eventually gets to the ball on the 6 yard line and smashes it past Lloris but off the bar and away. We are all reluctant to criticise the King of the Scummers too much but that was a bad mess.

It’s not a miss that we worry about for too long as Hojbjerg finds Boufal who was drifted into the central area and he plays it behind the defence to Redmond.  Redmond appears initially to have turned the wrong way but gets a shot away anyway which Lloris can only parry out and Shane Long is there and even Shane Long can’t miss from there and it’s 1-1 and deservedly so.

Just when you think everything is going well, something goes to shit as Spurs play a short goalkick and JWP closes down Sessegnon. As JWP arrives, the Spurs player tried to clear it and his follow-through catches JWP below the knee. Fuck, this is not looking good as the stretcher and the oxygen and all that shit comes on. Shane Long doesn’t help by coming over and shouting “fuck me you can see the bone“. Not a good moment and off he goes.  With our right back crisis in full flow for tonight‘s game we have to move Jack Stephens over there and On comes Jannik Vestergaard to play against the very quick Son and Moura. Oh good.

Half time and Spurs must feel that it’s their lucky day to be level.  Personally, I’m always happy when we’re still in the game at half time away from home against one of the big boys but it should be better.  The injury to JWP has cast a bit of a cloud as well.

The second-half starts with another superb passage of play by Saints with Redmond and Ings passing their way through the Spurs defence before Ings shot deflects wide right to Boufal with a clear sight of goal but he screws it across the goal and wide.  This is a pretty poor miss to be honest and once more, we’ve carved out a really good opening and failed to put it away. You just know this is going to come back and bite us in the arse.

Spurs come close when a ball down the left hand side looks to have run out of play but Son keeps it in as the linesman kept the flag down and crossed and Moura drifts inbetween Vestergaard and Bertrand, meets it 6 yards out and heads wide. To be fair, that’s as bad a miss as any of ours.

Armstrong is on for the clearly disappointed Boufal as we approach the 70th minute. Spurs sling across in from the right hand side which is headed out by Shane Long to Redmond and Redders is away, spinning and turning past three players before finding Ings about 30 yards out. Tanganga backs away which is all the King of the Scummers needs to curl the ball into the far corner past Lloris. It’s a brilliant goal and quite puts me in mind of the famous Shane Long goal at Anfield in the League cup semi-final.

Dele Alli is on for Spurs and he is virtually playing as a false 9 in between Romeu and our central defenders.  In the next Spurs build-up he is miles offside but comes back in line with the Saints defenders to pick up a ball from Moura before returning it to him and Moura easily dances around Vestergaard before smashing it in the corner of the net to level things up again. Bollocks.

Che Guido Austin Adams has come on to replace Shane Long which means we have given up on pressing up front but Spurs have all the momentum now. A Saints attack breaks down when Redmond plays a blind ball inside and Spurs break on us and Alli spreads a diagonal ball behind a defence to the onrushing Son. Gunn comes out in instalments and over goes Son and the referee gives a penalty without even thinking about it. To be fair, at first look it looks like a nailede on pen. VAR has a check for the amount of time recommended for the opposition at a big ground, about one second and upholds the decision even though on just one replay you can see that Gunn has actually got the ball and there is no contact until after Son is already on his way down. That’s a fucking cheating bastard and a fucking shit use of VAR yet again.

Needless to say, the smiling, chest kicking, leg breaking fucker gets full reward for cheating and scores the penalty. There are a couple of minutes to go but we are dead and don’t get anywhere near fashioning a chance to force an equaliser.

Out of the FA Cup again and much to the delight of everyone at the FA and in media land, Spurs are through. We were the better side for about 80% of the game and managed to lose because of a variety of reasons but chief amongst them is a failure to take our chances or pick the right option, injuries to key players and the fact that we stopped playing once we went ahead on 72 minutes.

The the second Spurs goal illustrated, a lot of our problems stemmed from the injuries and who we ended up on the pitch with. Vestergaard coming on meant that the defence couldn’t push up as much as it normally would and this left spaces in between the defence and our central midfield players which Spurs exploited once Alli came on. If you look at Moura on the second goal, he picks up the ball in so much space before easily stepping past Vestergaard and burying it in the corner. It’s just too easy for him to score that goal. That space would not have been there, either if JWP was in the centre of midfield or if Jack Stephens was still in the centre of defence.  Also, it’s the second game in a row where an attacked has been miles offside, then got involved in a second phase and been onside again and we’ve not picked him up at all.  Henderson at the weekend, Alli tonight.

Then of course we have the winning goal which is another fucking refereeing/VAR calamity. The trouble is the Gunn came off his line in instalments so he made it look as though he was struggling and even though he actually got the ball and there was no touch on Son until he was already on the way down, I also do wonder why Gunn went with his feet and not his hands as this adds to the clumsy nature of the challenge. I don’t blame the referee for thinking it was a penalty. VAR is supposed to be able to pick through it and work out if it is a penalty or not and it’s just fucking isn’t. The main selling point of VAR is that it gets the right decision and no matter how long it takes, it gets it right,  However, for the last two games we’ve had, coincidentally at big ground, this hasn’t been the case and because of the amount of time taken, you can tell they’ve barely looked at it.  Son is a horrible bastard. Breaks a players leg with a deliberate foul, kicks another one in the chest, waves imaginary yellow cards at referees and then dives. He is the nicest bloke you’ll ever meet though.

It’s all a bit raw at the moment with the fuss over the Danny Ings penalty shout at Liverpool and now this. Again, we’ve made a trip to a huge stadium owned by a big six club and been given no breaks whatsoever by the officials. It’s almost getting like boxers when they go to America to fight a local boy when they know they basically have to leave the guy unconscious to just to get a draw. VAR was supposed to make this imbalance better but it doesn’t, it just makes it worse.

Positives. Our second goal was absolutely fucking brilliant by Nathan Redmond for the skill and the pace and the decision-making in his 50 yards burst up the pitch and it was a brilliant finish by Danny Ings which is great to see after his mini goal drought that he’s been on. I was very impressed with Hojbjerg in the centre of midfield as well. He is adding more consistency into his game now and it’s becoming the player that we all hoped he would be.

No one really played badly but some of the misses were bad, particularly the one where Ings hit the bar and Boufal’s miss at the start of the second-half. Misses like that are the reason why we are not out of sight after dominating the game. Angus Gunn didn’t make a single save all game and let in three goals from three shots. To be fair, he didn’t have a chance with any of the actual shots of the beat him but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen holograms with more presence than he’s got. He reminds me a bit of when we had Maarten Stekelenburg in goal. He never seemed to let in any goals that were obviously his fault but he never actually made any saves either.

Another highlight for me was when Romeu was possessed by the ghost of Paul Wottonn and went round on a one-man murder spree for about five minutes committing about eight fouls in record time before eventually getting booked.  After the seventh one which left sun on the deck, the nicest man in football was waving imagine a yellow cards at the referee, so Oriol tried to decapitate the next Spurs player who came near him and finally got the yellow card he so badly wanted.

Ralph focused on our performance and was clearly annoyed about the way we managed, or rather failed to manage the last 20 minutes after we had gone in front. He also made mention of the amount of chances that we had missed and that we need to learn from that. He really is a classy guy. Even if he thought the penalty was soft, he wasn’t going to say anything about it and instead, rolled out the “I haven’t seen it yet” answer to the question. I could probably learn from him and not blame referees and VAR but where would be the fun in that?

Again, Ralph and Jose must be congratulated for the full strength sides they put out and their genuine enthusiasm for the competition. More should be made of that but all we hear are Klopp apologists.

Time for the winter break of approximately 10 days which will with any luck, give JWP a chance to recover. Stuart Armstrong‘s quick recovery from his injury was a bonus for today and hopefully by the time we play Burnley at home, Kyle Walker-Peters will be up to speed so we can go into that game with more or less a First choice line-up.  That’ll be a horrible game and a different kind of test.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Premier League Match 25 - Liverpool 4 Southampton 0

Over to your VAR Official: Jamie Carragher

It’s time for the Liverpool free hit. Every team that’s gone to their ground in the last year or so has ended up getting beat, so there should be no expectation that we will be any different. You never know of course and it of course, would be fucking glorious if we got anything out of the game.
I accepted that Liverpool would win the league this year and fair enough. A couple years ago they had a near miss with the champions league and won it the following year and last year had a near miss with the Premier league and are going to win it this year by a street. It will be painful watching those wankers lift the Premier League trophy after a gap of 30 years but I have accepted that it is going to happen so when it does, it won’t be too bad. The inbuilt superiority of their supporters is something I have got used to so in all honesty, I don’t actually see that being any worse. When they are finally mathematically certain of winning the league and someone has explained that with an abacus, Jamie Carragher will spontaneously combust and leave spit and jizz all over Roy Keane, Gary Neville and the walls of Sky Sports and the world will continue to turn.

Jurgen Klopp, he of the clandestine meeting with his transfer targets in Blackpool that never got investigated, has chosen this week to be a monumental bell end again. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that Klopp has decided to miss his teams FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury to, as he puts it, honour the winter break. This is the winter break that was always going to be adjusted if there was a replay And everyone, including dear old Jurgen, knew about this. The reason Liverpool have a replay is because Klopp gave his players a winter break for the first game and they didn’t win it so now I have to play a replay. What goes around comes around. I can kind of understand him not playing any of the first team players because after all, it is Shrewsbury at home but not be there himself is the work of a complete wanker. He obviously has a little break planned somewhere and he wants to go on that rather than manage the next generation of Liverpool players. Imagine what it would mean to the 16 and 17-year-olds to have him in the dressing room instead of their age group manager. It is far too late to hope they crash and burn and win fuck all this season but we can’t have them being Invincibles or winning the treble or anything like that.

So it’s been a busy few days with the transfer window coming to an end with Kyle Walker-Peters joining on loan from Spurs and Cedric departing to Arsenal in another fantastic bit of work by his agent. Can we get all the shit players that we have out on loan, signed up to Cedric’s agent. We might have a half decent chance of getting them out the door if we do that. KWP arrives with no option to buy and Cedric joins Arsenal for the last five months of his Saints contract, for which we will pocket 5 million. KWP is a right-sided full back but I was encouraged when I did the fan boy thing of looking up his highlight reel on You Tube, to see that he has played at left back a lot as well so it really does cover both sides.

In terms of the first team, it is just a short-term move and one has to hope that the club has a plan in place to sign a right back permanently in the summer. Hopefully, we have a target identified and some sort of outline deal in place. Les Reed always used to say that we knew the player we were going to bring in before we actually needed to and whilst that has proven to be complete bollocks over the last few years, this is hopefully a time for that kind of succession planning to start again.

Cedric was at his best for Saints when we had Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk as the central defenders so as long as Arsenal have got really good central defenders, Cedric will do okay. Oh yeah, it’s Mustafi and David Luiz isn’t it? Oh dear. Is Cedric better than Bellerin? I know which one I’d rather have and he’s not Portuguese. Oh well, it’s their problem now at least till the end of the season. The only shame is that with him leaving on loan, he won’t be able to play against us which is a bit of a shame because I think Nathan Redmond would tear him to pieces. Ironically, one game where he was recently horrific was against Arsenal at the Emirates where he allowed Arsenal’s left-sided players to get in as many crosses as they liked and produced the party piece of not being able to pass a ball 5 yards on the ground for Obafemi to have a tap-in. As crosses go, that one was phenomenal. Luckily, this happened before Arteta became the manager so he is clearly unaware of it. It is also quite amusing that as of this moment, he is joining a team lower down the league.

So Cedric has gone. Little boy band Harry Styles tight shirt with no socks Twat has left the building. He has been with us since summer 2015 and mainly did okay for the first year and a half, though he did find himself behind Cuco Martina in the pecking order at various times which doesn’t look good on anyone’s CV. After that however he just downed tools and seem to sleep walk-through games. He never blocked any crosses because he never got close to any wingers and he never put any tackles in either for the same reason. He also was repeatedly beaten at the back post in the air, mainly due to being a midget but most the time he didn’t even get close to the guy or even manage a jump to put them off before they scored. A laughable loan spell at Inter Milan ended with him only having played four games for them and all their fans thinking he was shit but he somehow turned the spell into a positive in an interview in the Daily Telegraph. The fact that he had gone from 1st to 4th choice Portugal right back in the last couple of years was also span as a positive as he was “on his way back“. He has only started playing well the last few months when Ralph, obviously told him a few home truths about actually having to defend positively and get near the player. There is a good player in there but the attitude has largely been appalling. He scored a goal against Pompey and knocked in a nice free-kick against Manchester United but to be honest, there will not be much that I’ll miss when he leaves though it might be worth tuning into Arsenal Fan TV after he’s played a couple of games.

The only thing that I’m worried about is that Saints have been so monumentally shit at signing players the past couple of years and now we have to find a replacement. KWP is the man in the short term but even if he does well for us, there is no option to buy so Spurs will just be flogging him to the highest bidder in the summer and that probably won’t be us.

And then came transfer Deadline day itself. There were rumours that Kevin Danso might be off elsewhere and we waited to see if anything came of Leicester and Vestergaard or if Leeds would fail to understand plain English again and put in another bid for Charlie Austin Adams. In the end, there was only one move and it was a bit of a gut wrenching one as Maya Yoshida departed to play for Sampdoria for the rest of the season.  You cannot not love Maya.

The Sampdoria Ex-Saints Club has a New Member

In an era where the game is full of players who don’t give a shit about anything other than themselves and certainly don’t give a shit about the club that they play for, Maya stands out as a player who has been with Saints for 7 1/2 years and has never once given less than 100% in any game that he has played in. He has never really been a first choice for a sustained period of time but has never caused any controversy and has always been deeply respectful of the club that pays his wages and the fans that support that club. He also was totally happy to be at Southampton and never had his eye on going elsewhere or thinking he was better than the club.

On a day which started with people defending Cedric, a player who basically phoned it in for two years and couldn’t be bothered, we have lost one of the players who embodied everything that football should be about. Not the best player but the best he possibly could be. Off of the pitch he has of course been amazing as a representative of the club and the 1% salary donation to the Saints Foundation is something he can rightly be proud of and I hope that someday he returns to continue his association with the club.

Taking sentiment out of it for a second, he had four months left on his contract and wanted to play some football and let’s face it, a move to Serie A and a reunion with Manolo Gabbiadini is a fantastic move for him and I’m sure every Saints fan wishes him a brilliant few months there and a resolution that he is happy with in the summer. It seems that we have picked up about £3 million quid for this loan move so that is approximately £9 million quid we have got, just for letting two players go four months early. Cedric has hopefully been replaced with KWP and Yoshida was our fourth choice centre back so was unlikely to get much game time between now and the end of the season. We could always bring Wesley Hoedt back I suppose.

Back to today and JWP is to deployed at right back with Romeu coming into the midfield.  Armstrong’s injury has opened the door for Moussa Djenepo on the right hand side so with Redmond on the left and two up top, we are certainly going for it.  Liverpool have selected Kevin Friend to referee the game, a first choice appointment for them since the pre-Klopp days.  The rest of the side is as you’d expect with Oxlade-Chamberlain filling in for Mane up front.

Away we go and Saints make a decent start with Hojbjerg driving from midfield and giving ito to Redders who switches play to Djenepo.  Unsurprisingly he runs at Robertson who seems to panic under pressure from Ings and passes it straight to Allison who picks it up. It’s the clearest back pass ever but no, Kevin Friend is referee so that’s not going to get given. From the next attack, Mo Salah clearly has the last touch as it runs behind but Friend gives a corner. Fucks sake. This is how it’s going to be.  Liverpool’s next corner is won when Salah brings a ball down with his arm before seeing his shot deflected wide.

Saints are standing up well against the 12 men and the Anfield whisper with Djenepo trying his luck from 30 yards but you don’t beat a keeper like Allison form there and he easily pushes it wide.  Up the other end though it’s carnage.  As Dave Merrington would say… “What we don’t want to do here is let that twat Van Dijk score a goal but we nearly did as the big bollocks found himself free in the middle of a penalty area and tried to score with a back heel but luckily McCarthy come flying off his line and blocked it and still managed to get up in time to block the rebound shot from Firmino. We don’t clear it and the ball gets chipped back in from the right hand side and it’s going over everybody and Firmino collapses on the goal line under a challenge from Long and appeals for the penalty. The ball is going absolutely nowhere near him but if you read the rulebook, that doesn’t actually matter (despite what many commentators seem to think) but miraculously, luck appears to be on our side because the VAR twats have a look at it and decide that Shane Long wrapping both arms around his neck and pulling him down is not a penalty. I think that it’s Firmino’s theatrical flop on the floor that has saved us there.

Firmino then has a shocker and plays a through ball to Ings who works himself a chance to shoot and manages to hit Shane Long’s heel with it.  We have another chance straight afterwards as Long’s attempt to find Ings comes back to him and then he hits it and Allison just basically stands there and catches it.  Bastard.  We’re all over them though and Allison has to bail out Gomez as Ings catches him in possession and we end up winning another corner which comes to nothing.

Half time and we can really hold our heads up high here. We’ve been brilliant in the first half and deserve to be level if not in front. Kevin Friend has refereed the game to usual Kevin Friend standards though he and his superiors will doubtless be annoyed about his failure to award Liverpool a penalty. Other than that though, he has been absolutely textbook, refereeing differently for one team than the other. I’m sure it will carry on in similar vein in the second half.

Five minutes into the second half and we break and Danny Ings is away with Gomez and Fabinho for company. They back off and allow him into the penalty area and he has a little shuffle to go between the two players any bundles past Fabinho who flicks out a foot and brings some down. That’s a penalty… clear as fucking day but Kevin Friend waves it away and Liverpool break like only Liverpool can and 30 seconds later Robertson and Firmino have combined near our goal line to set up Chamberlain who jinks across the top of the penalty area and hits a shot through a defender past the unsighted McCarthy to make it 1-0.  There is a very quick VAR review (by Jamie Carragher) of the penalty incident but do you honestly think they are going to disallow a Liverpool goal in order to give us a penalty? Of course they’re fucking not.

There’s not really much point in talking about the rest of the game. Henderson took advantage of the different phase offside crap rule and scored the second on the hour after Firmino’s cut back and in the last 10 minutes when we were pushing forward, Salah help himself to 2 goals, the first courtesy of a brilliant ball from Henderson which enabled. Salah to run on against McCarthy and finish superbly and the fourth one in the last minute with Firmino again setting him up and he bundled it into the net without I think, knowing too much about it.  4-0 is an absolute travesty. They’re better than us, of course they are and even if the Ings penalty decision have gone our way and we have gone 1-0 up, I’m sure they would’ve gone up through the gears and beaten us anyway.

What I like about us today is that we turned up and gave it a right go. Too often in recent history against the big boys, we have just completely folded and be dead and buried by half-time Ralph’s team are made of different stuff to what we’ve had a previous three seasons.  So we lost 4-0 in the end but it was considerably better than our last two 3-0 defeats here, daft though that sounds.

I guess I’m probably about to write all the things I normally write when you play away from home against one of the big boys. We have lost and of course, they were better than us and deserved the win but we are leaving with the usual burning sense of injustice and the feeling that it wouldn’t have mattered what we did, there was absolutely no fucking point because there is barely any point in turning up. When you get a referee like Kevin Friend who is basically going to give you absolutely fuck all then you may as well not bother at all. Your ridiculously hard task to come away to Anfield and get something just gets made impossible by the wanker in the black and the team of wankers in the VAR room.  I think most accept that referees could get intimidated at big grounds but now we have VAR and guys who are not even at Anfield in this case, making baffling decisions.  In effect it's worse because we now have two sets of twats instead of one.

Our game plan in all our away games has been to keep it tight and score the first goal. Not particularly complicated but that’s the way we try and play. If the referee wasn’t a complete fucking clown then we could well have had the first goal today because Ings was clearly brought down for a penalty and Liverpool went straight up the other end and scored. I firmly believe that we had a better chance of getting the penalty if Liverpool hadn’t have scored but once they stuck it in the net there was no fucking way on Gods Green Earth they were ever going to disallow a goal and give us a penalty at the other end. If we’d been given a penalty, we probably would’ve been 1-0 in front but instead we are one down and then we have to chase the game and then, because Liverpool are unbelievably clinical, we get fucked.  It’s a completely different game if we go one up because they Liverpool might start getting frustrated in the crowd might start to turn etc but as they went one up, everything is alright in Liverpool world and we get fucked and no one really cares.  I mean, it’s not even close and there is no argument. Fabinho’s initial challenge gets the ball and then hooks Ings down with a second lunge for the ball. It’s a penalty and there is no way that any other decision can be reached unless you are Kevin Friend and the VAR fuck wits.   Remember the one we conceded against Wolves a few weeks back – ref didn’t give it and you could see why but then VAR rightly overruled it and they got the penalty.  This was the same scenario so why not given?  It will probably get mentioned in the online media and in the newspapers and stuff like that but then no one will give a fuck and the same thing will happen next week to whatever other team is visiting Anfield.

Admittedly, they should have had a penalty in the first half when Shane Long pulled down Firmino which once again is another staggering VAR failure. It’s interesting that when referees have a complete shocker, they get stood down for a few weeks and don’t referee Premier League fixtures. I think we are getting to the stage where if the VAR officials make absolutely horrific errors and use VAR in a stupid way then they should be getting banned as well.

I guess when we arrived at half-time at 0-0 and we were the better side and look in the more likely to score, someone had a little word in Kevin’s ear and said “we can’t have this Kevin you’d better do something about it”. We should’ve known what was coming because in the first half we had an absolute fucking classic with the back pass.  Let’s just hand them the league now and fucking get it over with. This is before we even get to the free kicks and a little decisions and then we had two different sets of rules for what warranted a yellow card for us and for them. Fabinho hacks over Djenepo 100% deliberately in the middle of the field and nothing happens and then Bednarek commits a much less cynical foul and get a yellow card straight away. Kevin Friend is an absolute fucking ball bag.

Moving away from Kevin the Wanker, we really should’ve scored today regardless but we were guilty multiple times of taking the wrong option and therefore we didn’t test Allison nearly as much as we should’ve done. There is something arrogant about the way they defend and they do give you chances (mainly because neither full-back can actually defend very well) but you have to take them and today we just didn’t. To get beat4-0 is harsh and that is testament to how clinical Liverpool were when they got the chance but it was also testament to how open we were when we were trying to chase the game. There were good performances all over the park for us but at the end of the day, we are not in the same league as Liverpool and we needed to have a three chances and three goals type of performance in order to get anything out of today.

Still, never mind as it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things and we move onto the next game which is the FA Cup Replay at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It’s another top six club away from home but they are half the team that Liverpool is so we have to make our chances count and I reckon we could be in for a good night.  Bring it on.

Monday, January 27, 2020

FA Cup 4th Round - Southampton 1 Tottenham 1

Danny is very Grateful

Time for the FA Cup fourth round against Tottenham and their renowned trophy hunting manager, José Mourinho. I guess the big question is about how we will approach this game. Will we make 10 or 11 changes like we did last time in the Cup or are we serious about trying to have a decent run? If Middlesbrough got through the replay against Tottenham then I’m sure we would’ve seen 10 changes and have been realistically confident of winning the game anyway but of course, Spurs getting through makes it slightly different. The strength of the team that we put out in the FA Cup depends largely on league position. When we are in the midst of a relegation battle, then in the past, we have basically sacked off the FA Cup and not bothered. A 5-0 home defeat to Tottenham’s North London friends and neighbours at Arsenal sticks in the memory. Following the win against Palace though, we have 31 points and realistically I’m not going to be anywhere near the bottom of the league so I am anticipating three or four changes but not too many.

Make no mistake though, Jose will be absolutely desperate to win this game as this is his last chance of silverware this season if you rule out a Champions League triumph. If he wins anything silver coloured as Spurs manager then he will have eclipsed almost every manager that they have had in the last 20 years in the important regard of actually putting trophies in the cabinet..  Their last trophy was a League Cup in 2008 and there have only been two other trophies in the past 30 years, a League Cup in 1999 and their last FA Cup win which was in 1991.  For a club of their size it’s a pretty woeful record. 

So, Mourinho will be after a trophy - that is the way he thinks and I like that about him. He will only be celebrating finishing in the top 4 because it gives him an opportunity to win the Champions League the following season, not seeing the top 4 as some sort of trophy which a lot of managers are guilty of, including Mauricio Pochettino. Sure, he got to the Champions League final but at the end of the day they didn’t win it.  It’s obvious but it’s true.

In Ralph’s pre-match press conference it became clear that Cedric will be missing and it appears that Shane Long and Jannik Vestergaard will be missing as well. In a bizarre twist, Vestergaard has been quite heavily linked with a move to Champions League chasing Leicester City which, bearing in mind he was one of the main culprits in the 9-0 and he has hardly played since, is fucking bizarre to say the least. Personally, I have no problem with Vestergaard in terms of attitude or effort and in a team playing a deep defence with no space behind it, he could be a decent player but him playing for a high pressing side is going to be a disaster against anyone who has pace and puts the ball in behind him. Leicester do tend to sit deep and defended the edge of the penalty area so he may well be a good fit for them. This illustrates one of the problems I’ve had with Saints recruitment over the past few years in that we have had no clear philosophy about how we play so we have ended up signing a collection of players who do not fit into the style that the manager is now currently playing.

Spurs lost Harry Kane in the New Year’s Day fixture at St.Mary’s and he will be missing today, returning just before the European Championships where he will get selected every match and play even though he is and a half fit (put your money on it folks). They might not have Kane but they have Son Heung Min who is taking a break from breaking legs and kicking blokes in the chest to actually play some football. He’s actually quite good at it when he’s not being a dick.  Lucas Moura has been giving them some pace and tenacity in recent weeks and Christian Eriksen is still there and even though he is likely to move in the next couple of weeks, Mourinho will think nothing of playing him in the FA Cup. Make no mistake, this is still a decent Spurs squad but as with the league game, the defence can be got at, containing as it does, the train wreck that is Serge Aurier and the ageing and going downhill Jan Vertonghen. They are made stronger by the return of Hugo Lloris which means that the Gazzaniga Timebomb will be on the bench.  Rumour has it that Dele Alli is still appealing for a penalty from New Years Day.

One of the things I’m looking forward to today is to see if the famed ticket upload to my season-ticket card actually works. Every time this has been tried in the past I’ve ended up getting rejected as I’ve tried to go through the turnstile and having to be let in via some side door or other.... and we’re in with no problems and the team news is decent.  Cedric is replaced with Danso and Ings and Bednarek are back.  Basically, with the exception of Gunn coming back in for McCarthy, this is the line-up that would play in a Premier League game.  Spurs have the whole of the Northam End which is a bit annoying but their version of "Oh When the Saints" is easily drowned out.

Spurs tactics become obvious straight away and they are to sit deep and then attack at pace.  The ball zips about between Lo Celso, Moura, Alli and Son with Alli playing a cute ball behind Danso to Son who drills across Gunn and wide.  Should have scored really.

Our press is beaten by a long ball forwards from Alderweireld which picks out Moura and he breaks into the penalty area before falling over.  Stephens pokes the ball away and Lo Celso drills it low and it seems to go through Gunn on its way into the net.  Shit.  It looks like it’s going to be 1-0 but the referee bizarrely, is telling the lino that it is offside because someone is directly in front of the goalkeeper. The linesman somewhat sheepishly raises his flag and we have to go through the pain of a VAR check before it is confirmed that the goal was offside.  As it turns out, Son is stood right in front of Gunn and it actually hits him.

More Spurs attacking as Alli breaks through the middle and lays it to Moura who looks like he has to score but a shot brushes of the studs of Gunn and goes wide for a corner.  Again, he really should have scored but that’s a really good save.  As an attacking force we’ve done nothing so far but we win a free kick out on the right and JWP spots Ings having a dart and picks him out superbly.  The King of the Scummers chests it past the flapping Lloris and hooks it goalwards, only to see Tanganga get back and head it off the line.

The game gets more even has the half goes on and we threaten again (a bit) from a  free-kick when JWP optimistically has a pop and it’s straight at the keeper and barely worth mentioning really.  Just before half time, Armstrong pulls up and is replaced with Djenepo.

We’ve been our own worst enemies in that half to be honest – allowing Spurs to break time and time again and us get caught short handed at the back from just one pass which takes out both Pierre and JWP.  One of those two needs to play deeper or else we need Romeu to come on which why I’m a bit surprised at the substitution.

Half time and it’s time to reflect on the ‘FA Cup Supporter Bell-End’.  This is someone who turns up ten minutes into the game, with no idea of where their seat is and has no awareness of anyone else around them as they generally piss around for another five minutes standing in the way.  38 minutes gone and they’re off for a piss or a pint and then want to come back in just as the half time whistle goes and everyone else is heading the other way.  Alternatively, they come back 10 minutes into the second half.  Just fuck off mate.

Back on the pitch, Spurs get a free kick on the left hand side at the start of the second half, right on the edge of the party area. The goal looks fucking huge is Lucas Moura steps up but he does exactly the same as what JWP did on the first half and just put it straight into the midriff of goalkeeper.

There’s a big YEAAAAAAAAAAAA-NOOOOOOOO! moment from our next attack as Hojbjerg puts Obafemi away on the right hand side and his cut-back is met by Ings in front of the near post and it gets almost a perfect angle on it but it runs agonisingly wide of the far post with Lloris waving it goodbye.  Ings has another sniff straight afterwards as Hojbjerg attempts his 326th shot of the season which bounces through the defence and the King of the Scummers swings a boot but can’t get a touch.

Lo Celso, who has looked considerably better than he did in the League game, runs out of defence with a superbly down the right hand side past JWP, Djenepo and Bertrand. He feeds Moura who plays it out to Son who is completely unmarked because Dele Alli has managed to clatter Danso to the deck. Son takes it on and scores across Gunn just a bit too easily. VAR is looking at offside which it certainly isn’t and it allegedly looked at the foul by Alli but unsurprisingly decides that there isn’t one and so Spurs are 1-0 up.  Shit.  It’s nearly 2-0 straight afterwards as Lo Celso superbly chips over the defence and Son volleys over the bar.

Ings tries to ball juggle it into the box and Tanganga comes across in clears it with his elbow which he has moved towards the ball. The trouble is that there is not much in the way of an appeal from any of our players aside from Ings.  That shouldn’t really matter these days as VAR should look at it but VAR doesn’t look at it so the lesson we learned from that is that we must also surround the fucking referee until we get a review.  It’s not working for Danny today and he shoots from the top of the penalty area on the left and puts it across the face and just wide.

Ralph is going for it.  Danso is off for Boufal and so we are playing three at the back with Djenepo and Redmond as wing backs.  Che Adams comes on in place of Obafemi and it’s not happening as with 10 minutes to go, Redmond gets down the right hand side and skins the fallback and picks out Danny Ings in acres but it’s still not his day and he heads wide.  Has to score that….

85, 86 and we’re camped in their half but it’s not really looking like happening until the Shit footballer Gods come up trumps again as Aurier pisses about on the ball and loses it to Hojbjerg who feeds Ings and Ings roll;s it across the top of the penalty area and there is Sofiane Boufal to rifle it into the roof of the net.  1-1 and no one wants a draw… come on we can win this!

Nope! Neither can they and it ends 1-1

And so, a fair result in what was a ridiculously open free-flowing game. Very entertaining for the neutral and the neutral is any twat that bought a half and half scarf from outside the ground on the way in. Spurs probably shaded the first half, creating the better chances as we repeatedly got caught on the break but in the second half after they had scored, it was just a case of whether we would find the final pass or the finish. Eventually we did of course and we deserved to. Ralph rolled the dice when he could see that nothing much was happening and we ended up basically with five forwards on the pitch so it was good that his bravery was rewarded.

Here is today’s VAR moan. As a part-time referee, I was instructed at the start of the season that if the ball hits the defenders arm and his arm is in an unnatural position, as in it has broken the silhouette then it is a penalty regardless of whether he meant it or not. That rule clearly doesn’t apply to Tottenham because now in both games against them at home this season, there have been cases where a defender with his arms flailing around all over the place, has handled the ball and neither penalty has been given. Today’s effort by Tanganga was not as bad as Alderweireld’s against us in the league game but technically, by the rules which we have been led to believe everyone is following, that should’ve been a penalty today. Actually, it’s not even a VAR issue because it didn’t even fucking review it.

Danso proved today what complete folly it would be to emerge from this transfer window with no other option at right back. He was painfully bad after the first five minutes and with Yan Valery seemingly still out of the picture and Cedric injured for another few weeks, for anyone to pretend that we don’t need another right back is ridiculous. It’s even worse on the left hand side where Ryan Bertrand is still the only real option. We lost Stuart Armstrong today and as I write, no one really knows how long he is going to be out for but for our next league game against Liverpool, you would think that Ralph will be reluctant to throw in Boufal or Djenepo so it may well be Romeu who comes in with JWP moving wide but then who plays at right back?

Talking of our wingers, it was good to see Boufal get a goal today and he certainly livened things up when he came on. Djenepo didn’t really do much and looked like he was running at half pace which was a bit odd. There was another cameo by Charlie Austin Adams which was a complete waste of time, with the highlight being JWP having to tell him to close down the goalkeeper.  Honestly, if Leeds want to buy him for £20 million now, I would sell. There is no point in loaning him out but if I offer us £20 million now and we can spend it on bringing in a replacement next week then I would be interested. This is not something I am basing on just 10 minutes today but the guy just doesn’t seem to fit the way Ralph wants to play football. He’s our fourth choice striker at the moment behind Ings, Long and Obafemi which is not what you would expect from a striker who we paid big money for in relative terms.

The man he was supposed to partner of the season, Danny Ings had a brilliant game in all bar finishing. He finally set up Boufal’s goal but not before missing about three presentable chances that he would have expected to score. He was very unlucky in the first half when his beer quick thinking resulted in his shot being cleared off the line but he will be disappointed with the header that he missed the second half.

Angus Gunn had a mixed game in goal looking very nervous in the first half but much more positive in the second. A couple of times he was very slow off his line but I guess to be expected as he hasn’t played for a while. Jack Stephens had another good game but Bednarek was a bit wobbly in the second half in particular, miscuing quite a few clearances. I thought Hojbjerg and JWP were excellent and the central midfield again and Obafemi put in a decent shift that front.  It was nice and Redmond continue the form he showed in the Palace game, constantly tormenting whatever full back he was up against. He still needs to work at it but someone has obviously had a word with him about getting his head up sooner and if he continues to do that then his end product, be it scoring goals himself or setting them up for others, will only improve.

Dele is a Dickhead - Again

As for Spurs well Dele Alli was still a massive bell end. There was an innocuous foul not given to Spurs in the first half and he did his arms out palms up appeal again which he has only just stopped doing after the New Year’s Day game down here. Son was a threat throughout and deserved his goal. The new lad, Gedson Fernandes looks exactly the type of player that Ndombele is so I’m not sure why they’ve got him in. Jose Mourinho managed to not get booked this time round and no matter how much he complains about fixture congestion or any other shit, he will be relieved to still be in with a chance of winning this trophy.

Fair play to Jose and Ralph for putting out full strength sides, so we could have a proper cup tie.  A refreshing attitude from both managers, especially when compared to certain others.  A draw is a result that no one really wanted but I fancy us to make a better job of it at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium than we did here today. Spurs stadium hold 62,000 people so no doubt we will take an allocation of about 800 and the club will sell out and mark this is achievement with a celebratory tweet.

PS…. Home to Norwich in the 5th Round if we get through.  We got drawn out in the second to last game and the three balls left were Norwich, Pompey and Bournemouth/Arsenal.  As it was ex-Skate Sheringham drawing the away teams, it would have been funny but not to be.  Skates are at home to Arsenal who predictably saw off Bournemouth.

Spurs have given us roughly the same number of tickets as we gave them.  As a percentage of the capacity, it is of course a lot less…. And we charged them a tenner a pop whereas they’re charging us £25.  Wankers.