Monday, October 8, 2018

Premier League Match 8 - Southampton 0 Chelsea 3

World Class Player Scores.  None of Our Defenders Close Enough to be in the Picture

Chelsea at home and I’ve been looking forward to this match for weeks. Only the first part of that statement is true as it’s far from being the highlight of the season that Sky would like it to be.  Playing the big clubs is a massive pain in the arse. It means away fans in the home end if you’re in the ground and very irritating biased commentary if you happen to be watching the game on the TV. On the pitch, it invariably means Southampton getting dicked and it’s not even being close. I can’t be bothered to look up but apparently we haven’t beaten one of the all powerful top six for about 35 matches since we won 2-1 at White Hart Lane which is a ground that has of course been demolished since. And by the why, that was against the Spurs side who had absolutely nothing to play for.

Personally, I’m coming to this game with a complete lack of enthusiasm.  The walk across the Itchen Bridge is usually punctuated with score predictions and guesses as to what the team is going to be. There is a bit of that going on but the general consensus from three generations of my family is a defeat and it doesn’t matter which players we put out there.   All I want is for us to have a go. Is that too much to ask?  On arrival at the ground, the TV in the concourse is showing me that Fulham have had a dose of top six reality and are currently getting thumped 5-1 at home by Arsenal. There are a few fans raising a chuckle at Fulham‘s plight. Careful what you take the piss out of lads.

On the face of it, it’s not a bad line up that Hughes has picked with Yoshida and Bednarek coming in and it’s obviously three at the back. Despite the rumoured fight in the changing room at Wolves and a predictable manchild social media meltdown, Wesley Hoedt is in the side. The fact that he is our only left-footed centre back is working heavily in his favour. Miraculously, Gabbiadini starts. The only slightly disappointing thing is that none of the new players that we signed this season have made the starting 11. Vestergaard is on the bench but Elyonoussi and Armstrong are nowhere to be seen. I find the make up of the bench rather annoying. JWP isn’t on there but Steve Davis is. What the fuck does Steve Davis add these days that JWP doesn’t? What does he add at all apart from experience?  If you want to shore up the midfield then you have Romeu and if you want to add to the attacking side of midfield then Davis is not really the man when you could have JWP, Armstrong or Elyonoussi. Still... Shane Long is also on the bench in case we need a goal.

Chelsea’s team is full of superb players as usual and the one who is generally held not to be brilliant, Olivier Giroud of course is like fucking kryptonite to Saints. Here goes nothing.  Hang on, here goes daytime fireworks and flame throwers as the teams come out.  It’s a fucking cringe but the kids love it.  As the game kicks of there is an issue and three latecomers arrive who have no idea where they’re sitting and it becomes apparent that they are Chelsea fans.  The temptation to kick off is strong but when two of the three are about 5 and 6, it’s best not to.

Chelsea start well and we basically camp 9 players in front of McCarthy in and around the penalty area.  Chelsea are fizzing it about trying to pick a way through the mass of defenders and Hazard nearly manages it but Bednarek blocks well before Willian shoots and it hits Hoedt and bounces up, off the bar and over.  Lesson not learned we play the opening 25 minutes in the same fashion and it’s a case of when rather than if.  At risk of sounding like Mike Bassett… fucking get into them.

Then we have an attack.  It’s started after a near calamity with Hoedt playing a shite ball to Yoshida who stumbled past Giroud more by luck than judgement, plays it to Redders, into Ings and his chipped cross is just in front of Lemina and the danger passes.  It’s enough to get the crowd roaring – it doesn’t take much these days.

We are actually growing into the game and some neat interplay sees Gabbi fire in an optimistic one from 35 yards which Kepa pouches easily.  Then proper football breaks out and it’s a great move with Bertrand picking up a return pass from Redmond and crossing superbly.  And Ings must score.  He connects on the volley from 5 yards out and fuuuuuuuuuuuck! He’s in the net, the ball is in the crowd.

Hughes has seen something he doesn’t like and we seem to be changing formation on the fly with Bednarek going to right back and Cedric in front of him.  The confusion is played up by Chelsea and they play it in the space behind Bednarek and Hazard finds Giroud who is met by a sliding Hoedt who clatters man and ball away for a corner.  Chelsea are rather annoyed about it and you can see why.  He hasn’t fouled him as such but both feet off the ground and not in control.  Put it this way – we’d be a penalty down and one man short with VAR.

The inevitable happens after some more Chelsea interplay around our box.  A ball into Hazard is met by a strong block from Wes but his ball to Hojbjerg on the edge of the box has a blue flashing light on top of it.  Instead of just smashing it away, Hojbjerg tries to turn out and loses it, one pass and Hazard has it, 10 yards out and unmarked.  I stopped watching at that point.

We have one opportunity before half time as we win a free kick just to the left of the penalty area but the ref, Craig Pawson, decides to make Berty take it a good ten yards left of where the foul was committed.  When Berty realises he’s serious and moves the ball to0 the right place, he of course gets booked for it.

The half time break sees Bednarek sacrificed and Romeu brought on.  Within thirty seconds of the restart he’s committed his first foul.  I guess we are changing approach now.  Willian has suddenly because our best source of possession when a shite touch gifts the ball to Romeu.  On to Hojbjerg and he delays until Bertrand makes his run and clips a beautifully weighted ball over the defence which Bertrand meets on the volley and miles over the bar.  That really should have been a goal and the skipper knows it.  Willian wants us to have another go and another mistake gives Redmond the ball and on it goes to Ings whose effort is easily saved.

Having had these openings, of course, Chelsea break and win a free kick with Ings hauling down Hazard.  The free kick is chipped to back stick and Giroud is all on his own.  He volleys across and Barkley bundles it into the net from 5 yards.  Fuck sake. Game over.

Because we now need two goals it’s time to bring on Shane Long and Gabbi goes off, having played right win in the second half.  We do have a chance to get back into it as Rudiger’s headed clearance went straight to Redmond and his superb strike seems to be over Kepa but the £71 million keeper throws up an arm as he’s falling backwards and somehow tips it onto the bar.

Morata is on for Giroud who miraculously hasn’t scored but the new man nearly does as Hazard breaks, plays him in but he can’t beat Macca.  As the game runs down, Ings sees Kepa pull off another good save to tip his shot over.  Lemina is on the deck – put there in an off the ball incident with the shit bag Marcos Alonso, returning to the ground where he tried to break Shane Long’s leg last season.

93 minutes gone, pass, pass, pass, pass… Hazard darts into space, frees Morata and he dinks over Macca for 3-0.  Fucking fuck off.  Everyone has already and most of those left head for the exits. Wank.

Well the only surprise there is that Giroud didn’t score.

Comprehensively outplayed-check,
Goal from Hazard-check,
Gifted them at least 1 goal-check
Didn’t lay a glove on them in midfield-check,
Basically just turned up and lost-check,
Let in a goal in the last five minutes-check.

Totally predictable and so fucking boring.

We did do one thing right though and that we managed to get six booked without anyone getting booked twice. All bar one of those bookings was after the game was already dead. It seems almost pointless to mention the referee but booking Bertrand for attempting to take a free-kick from the right place was a bit of a triumph. That’s winning the booking count 6-0 was also a bit of a triumph considering Alonso and Luiz were up to their usual off the ball tricks.

Oddly enough, despite the predictability and boredom, we had some really good chances which Ings and Bertrand should have converted and how the fuck Kepa kept Redmond’s shot I will never know and I was sat directly behind it.  The decent moves that we put together show you that with a bit more belief, we could actually do something against these sides.  We are so fragile though.

I really want to know what the thinking was behind bringing on a striker who has two goals in 60 games when we need two goals with 20 minutes to go. I am not a huge fan of Charlie Austin but leaving him on the bench and bringing on Long is either the work of the4 world’s biggest optimist or a complete lunatic. Bednarek was unlucky to get hooked at half-time in the tactical switch as he had probably been the best of the three centre backs in the first half. I thought that Gabbiadini was unlucky as well, being forced to play right wing in a 4-4-2 formation in the second half which again highlights the ridiculousness of loaning out both Boufal and Sims and not even having JWP or Armstrong on the bench.

As was entirely predictable, Chelsea were different gravy to us altogether both on and off the ball and I felt like if they had needed to win 5-0 then they could’ve done quite comfortably. Hazard is completely unplayable but especially so if you give him time and room which we did. Predictably we contributed massively to our own downfall with the first goal being an absolute gift. I see that the knives are out for Hoedt as usual and he probably got sucked into closing down a space that he shouldn’t have done but when a midfielder, in this case Hojbjerg, pisses around with a ball on the edge of the box and loses it, it’s 95% their fault.  The second goal was ridiculous in that Giroud had half of the penalty area to himself to volley across goal for Barkley to score.  When you see it replayed though, Hojbjerg is marking Giroud but Luiz wraps an arm round him to let Giroud run free.  Cynical play by Sideshow Bob but he got away with it so fair play to him.  Third gold didn’t matter a shit because the game was already dead but it was a brilliant goal by them as we watched on and only about a quarter of the supporters were still present to see it.

In the scheme of things, similar to 3-0 defeat to Liverpool, a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea doesn’t make the slightest difference to our season because even the most optimistic fan would not have had us down for any points from this game. The problem with today is that it showed that we aren’t getting much better in terms of either finding a way to compete against the big boys or putting together a 90 minute performance.  We look good in small sections of games but can never maintain it.  Yet another formation change and it was changed again during the game and yet again, the same insipid bollocks and fear football which we seem to get every time we play one of the big boys.  If this is going to be the way there then there are another 10 games against the top six that we can write off for the rest of the season, leaving us with about 20 games to get the 32 or so remaining points that we need to stay up.

The only confidence we can take from this is that we did create chances at both 0-0 and 1-0 down. We need to be going to these games against the top six with the confidence that we can create chances if only we get on the front foot occasionally instead of just sitting back shitting ourselves. We cannot defend and keep concentration for 90 minutes and once we’re 1-0 down then we’re usually fucked so that approach is always going to lead to defeat.

Another international break is here so we don’t have to worry about the shit for another two weeks when we are down at Dean Court to play Bournemouth who are currently fifth in the table and playing like a team possessed and a team who know exactly what they are doing. They are currently miles better than us but regardless of that, we have to go down there and look to win this game.  Have some fun and try and pick a combined Saints and Bournemouth XI.  I’ve done it and maybe McCarthy, Bertrand, Hojbjerg and Ings would get in.  You’d be struggling after that.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

League Cup 3rd Round - Everton 1 Southampton 1 (Southampton win 4-3 on penalties)

8 Overexcited Saints players.... and Maya

Time for the Reserve Team Trophy again and after us getting the shittiest draw imaginable, we’re at Goodison Park. I’m expecting Herbertson to take this going quite seriously bearing in mind that I spent an absolute fortune of the last two years and haven’t really moved forward very much and this realistically is the only competition they have any chance of winning. For us, I think it is a pretty huge game bearing in mind how shit the league form has been and was expected to be Miley fringe players, they will feel that they have a genuine chance of getting into the league team for Sundays defeat against Chelsea.

The rumours about the doorstop in the changing room after the Wolves game have gathered pace a little bit and frames are to be believed it was between Wesley height and the manager. No prizes he’s going to lose out long-term in that particular argument. If true, Wesley my want to check out with Sofiane Boufal is at the moment.

In the event, we picked a back three with Yoshida in between Stephens and Bednarek. Matty Targett was the left-wing back with Cedric on the right and surprisingly, both Hojbjerg and Lemina started in the centre of midfield. We lined up with three strikers in Redmond, Gabbiadini and Ings so on the face of it, it’s a decent line-up.  Everton have left out a few, notably Sigurdsson who is one I’m always worried about when he plays against us.  There is an ex-Saints presence with Walcott on the bench, Stekelenburg in goal and Schneiderlin in midfield.  I don’t think he saw his career panning out the way it has since he left Saints for the bright lights.

Everton have the first decent chance with Lookman picking the ball up on the right and as we stood off, he curled it wide of the far post. Talking of posts, Saints hit one as Schneiderling  horribly gives the ball away and Gabbi sends Redmond away on the left.  Such is his level of confidence he has Kenny for toast and cuts in before striking the base of the near upright with Stek beaten.

At the back we are looking decent with Stephens and Bednarek being martialled by Yoshida who is developing a nice line in cynical fouls to stop any Everton attacks.  The trouble with this is that we are then relying on Stephens to head things away and it’s scary to say the least.  However, as it looks like being 0-0 at half time, we build well down the left, Redmond again skins Kenny and passes infield to Ings who has dropped out to the edge of the box and the Liverpool loanee, to the delight of the 30,000 Evertonians in the ground, beautifully passes it along the ground into the far corner of the net.  Guess what? Stekelenburg never moved.  It’s good to see that nothing much changes.

Everton show a bit more intent at the start of the second half with Bernard getting on the ball and a lovely chip over the defect puts Lookman in but Gunn is out well to save.  Before long though it’s back to us being the better side and you feel that even with our talent for fucking things up, another goal would seal it and we nearly get it when Bednarek meets a corner with a firm header from about 6 yards but Stekelenburg chooses now of all times to actually make a save and tips it over the bar well.

The next chance is for Hojbjerg but he loses composure after a neat 1-2 with Redders and toe pokes it well over the bar.  So – we’re on top and time is running out and Everton are creating nothing and then off comes Gabbi and on comes Steve Davis.  I don’t like this.  It’s negative and guaranteed to put us on the back foot.  If you want to stiffen up the midfield then fine, bring on Romeu.  In the even Davis goes on the right so why not JWP?  At least he can take a free kick or a corner.  Everton’s subs by comparison are totally going for it with Walcott and Niasse coming on and midfiedlers including the desperate Schneiderlin going off.

Having had a really good game we get a bit of peak Yoshida.  He looks all calm and composed with the ball on the half way line and he takes his time and then turns and plays it about 10 yards short of Gunn.  It’s Gunn vs Walcott but luckily, Angus has a head start and has to perform a sliding man and ball effort to hack it clear.  After that scare, you know we’re going to panic .

Five minutes later and Niasse wins a challenge in the middle of the park with Yoshida and gets lucky as the ball lands well for him and he slides Walcott in and you just know what’s going to happen. 1-1.  Fuck.  Nothing much happens for the rest of the game and so we go straight to penalties.

The figure in brackets tells you my confidence in the relevant player to stick the ball in the net. It is slightly baffling however that we had two substitutions left to make and we have JWP and Charlie Austin sat on the bench as unused substitutes. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to 8-8 and we have Bednarek and Stephens stepping up.

There are two tosses for the penalty shootout and Everton win both of them. They get to go first and they get to choose ends. Here we go.

Leighton Baines (9) in off the underside of the bar and unsavable. 0-1

Danny Ings (10) there is nothing he seems like more than scoring on Merseyside against Everton and predictably, no problem at all. 1-1

Cenk Tosun (6). Big fucking donkey to maybe a chance but... Confidently enough 2-1.

Steve Davis (9) he may not be able to run any more but I’m sure he can take a decent penalty still. Bang, Roof of the net, 2-2.

Richarlison (5). A definite candidate to miss because he’s just as likely to get a ball and dive on the fucking floor. Here he comes, stops, a little stutter and then he balloons it into Row Z like a complete fucking £50 million wanker.

Pierre Hojbjerg (9). This man can score from 40 yards is really not gonna miss from 12 and he duly slots in the corner. 2-3 up.

Kurt Zouma (4). Not the most subtle of players and he’s just going to leather it and I reckon he’s a decent candidate to smash it over the bar. Bang.... straight through Angus Gunn but to be fair, he has absolutely smashed it. 3-3

Matt Targett (8). Good striker of the ball and decent at free kicks and I don’t reckon this is going to be a problem. Left a footed penalty takers always worry me a bit though...... Shit. Bad placement and a comfortable height for the keeper. Bollocks and arse. 3-3

Theo Walcott (1). I just know that he’s going to miss. He is going to miss because he’s had a 14 year career and I don’t think he has ever taken one. If he has, I don’t think I’ve seen it. His game is all about pace and not a lot about ability so I don’t reckon he’s going to have the ability or the nerve to stick it in the net. Here he comes.... haaaaa! Great save Angus.

Fucking Hell who is left for us? Lemina? He won’t fancy the pressure…. Redmond won’t fancy after missing that one for England... Maybe one of the three centre backs? Fuck no. Cedric (6).... Strikes a decent ball when he wants to. Bang, 4-3 and fuck me, we have won a game and not only that, we have one at Goodison Park. I know that technically it’s a draw but fuck that, it’s a win and we are through to the next round and they are not so I’m having it.

I actually thought we played okay and totally deserve to get through. The only bummer is of course that we needed penalties do it as we conceded our traditional late goal.  The back three worked better in the flat back four has in recent matches with Yoshida adding a certain calmness to the proceedings apart from with his horrendously shit backpass. The make up of the defence for the next game is going to be very interesting. I assume it will be three at the back so you would expect Yoshida and maybe one of Stephens and Bednarek to be in there with Vestergaard. However, Matt Targett had a great game at left back so I would be tempted to slot Ryan Bertrend into the Hoedt shaped space on the left of the back three with Vestergaard in the middle and Yoshida to the right.

Elsewhere, Gabbiadini didn’t really set the world alight but hopefully he did enough to put himself in the managers plans ahead of both Long and Austin. Finally, I have to say that Angus Gunn looks like a cracking keeper and this can only be a good thing regarding pushing Alex McCarthy to maintain his form. What Gunn has definitely proved is that there would be absolutely no problem should McCarthy get injured.

With all the other games having been decided last week, we now have another away trip in the next round to Leicester City. One thing that you can guarantee is that Claude Puel will rotate the fuck out of their team so that game presents a decent chance of reaching the quarter-final again.

Come on then Chelsea, what have you got? Apart from Eden Hazard of course, oh and Kante … and Willian… And... oh yes, Bastard Giroud who always scores against us. Ah well, see you on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Premier League Match 7 - Wolves 2 Southampton 0

Introducing the Mario Lemina Boot Range

A trip to the very impressive Molyneux to play Wolves you have made an impressive start to life back in the Premier league under the charismatic management of Nuno Espirito Santo. Their recruitment model is based on whoever Jorge Mendes decides to send their way and you can argue the pros and cons of that with regard to it being a big dodgy but they’ve made a bloody good start this year. They’ve been solid without being spectacular but managed to point at Old Trafford, a point at home to Manchester City and only one defeat so far in a game that they actually should of won away at Leicester. They are not the most clinical side and front of goal but do create loads of chances which either means that their forwards are not very good or that they are due to absolutely batter someone soon. Here come Southampton.

Wolves spent a lot of money in the summer but they invested in real quality with Moutinho and Patricio being the pick of the bunch. Their record fee was spent on a Adama Traore who is being used as an impact sub at the moment and with his pace and direct running, it could be a case of the longer he stays off of the pitch, the better for us with our rather pedestrian back four. Having said all that about Wolves - they are good but they are not that good so we should certainly be looking to take something from today.

The main news from Hughes before the game was that Shane Long was injured so does make me wonder whether fuck our goals are gonna come from now. I assume it will be either Austin or Armstrong to play up there with Ings. It’s been an interesting development in the media the last couple of weeks in that everybody seems to have jumped on the bandwagon the Saints are really really fucking boring and are a real nothing team. It really is hard to argue with that. All the things that made as good a few years ago are no longer there and it’s hard to argue with anyone who says that our sole aim seems to be to survive.  The teanm news today is that Austin has come in for the injured Long so that'll be a sub needing to be made on the hour mark.

Away we go and it’s the home side with the early play as they work it across from our left and the flamboyantly named Jonny Castro Otto beings a decent save out of Macca.  Saints are not being outplayed though and begin to get a foothold in midfield and once again Redmond is looking dangerous, beating a couple before feeding Austin and the unfit one finds Elyonoussi who tries his luck from too far out and Patricio saves easily.

Redmond is creator in chief again and a lovely diagonal ball finds Elyonoussi in on goal but Patricio is out and blocks well as Moi tries to lift it over him.  From the resulting hard won corner, Elyonoussi takes quite possibly the worst corner by anyone ever and boots it straight into row Z.  I bet Vestergaard and Hoedt were delighted that they trudged up from the back.  Unperturbed, Redders spins a defender and creates another chance for Ings this time and his shot nicks off a defender for another corner which we waste in slightly less embarrassing fashion than last time.

Wolves haven’t really done anything but there’s a break coming up so we have to give them a good opportunity and Docherty crosses from the right and we get a Weslice in the wrong direction straight to Raul Jimenez who virtually passes it straight to Macca, having been taken by surprise by not expecting us to pass the ball to him in front of goal.  We have one more chnace before half time which is created well by Elyonoussi when he finds Ings, takes a return ball and instead of trying to find Ings again, he tries another 40 yard left footed daisy cutter which needless to say, doesn’t give us the lead before half time.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half is all us in that we are monopolising possession of the ball without creating much.  Hojbjerg and Lemina a winning the midfield and we create one half chance with some lovely football across to the right and it’s worked in to Ings who spins his defender but gets blocked as he goes to pull the trigger.  The ‘When will Austin be Blowing out of His Arse and Get Substituted’ sweepstake is being led by the 55-64 minute slot but it’s Wolves who change first, bringing on Adama Traore – oh shit, especially as Bertrand has just been booked.

Hojbjerg is having a good game and drives forward only to get brought down 40 yards out and possibly due to a lack of anyone who could be remotely creative from this situation, Vestergaard thumps it straight but on target and Patricio pats it down but no one is following up because our fox in the box is knackered.  Like Hojbjerg, Lemina has had a good game and then he goes ‘Full Waster’.  He gets tackled and his boot comes off.  His boot is pink which is an issue but not the main issue here – it takes about 10 minutes for him to put the fucker back on.  Even an 8 year old can change a boot quicker than that.

Meanwhile, we send on Armstrong and Gabbiadini for Elyonoussi and Austin.  Austin has lasted a huge 77 minutes but he’s been walking for the last 20.  Armstrong shows what he brings to the party a few minutes later as he gets on the end of a Cedric cross and gets the shot in but it’s straight at Patricio.  With 10 to go and Wolves still not having anything effective happen in our third – even though it wasn’t really inevitable, the inevitable happens. 

It starts with Lemina losing the ball as usual.  Armstrong wins it back and gives it away again to Traore who skips round Bertrand like he isn’t there.  On he rumbles and Hoedt does pretty well to hold him up for a bit but then he burns past him, crosses it, Vestergaard falls over and the ball is laid back to Cavaliero who has just come on as sub, bang, no chance Macca, 1-0.  Fucking hell.  That’d be the 6th preventable goal in a row that we’ve let in.

We respond to this setback in the usual way by completely going to shit.  Wolves cut us open again and Cedric has to give away a corner.  When it comes in it’s free header time for Jimenez but McCarthy arches backwards to claw the ball out of the postage stamp from behind him.  World Class save.

Our big finish to try and get a point involves standing off and letting Wolves pass the ball about.  It’s fucking criminal.  We need putting out of our misery and we duly are and yet again it’s fucking rubbish defending.  This time Armstrong allows Docherty to walk past him in the left back position and his cross is touched past the fallen tree presence of Vestergaard and smashed into the net by Castro Otto who has wandered in from left back without anyone going with him.  Absolute dogshit.  Gabbi manages a shot in the 93rd minute but it’s near post and Patricio is never letting that in.  Another defeat.  Wankers.
Well that was a typical 2018 vintage Southampton performance. We were of the better side in terms of keeping the ball and playing nice patterns in midfield but the bottom line is that our defence will always ship a goal and today, the main issue was that we have no cutting-edge whatsoever. And unless the rules have changed, you don’t get awarded dick for style. We actually won the midfield battle with Hojbjerg and Lemina (when he wasn’t doing up his fucking boots) having the better of Moutinho and Neves. How can you win the battle of the all-important midfield and still lose the fucking game 2-0?  Having said that we want to make real battle, my mate, Rockstar Instagram Brand Machine Mario Lemina found a new way to be an absolute fucking dick this week, basically missing about 10% of the game so he could put his pink boots back on. What the fuck is that about?

As predicted before the game, as soon as we are faced with an attacker with a bit of pace, we haven’t got a fucking clue. Bertrand let him go because he was worried about getting sent off and then Traore predictably completely burned Hoedt who had absolutely no cover. Hoedt actually held up Traore long enough to get help but Bertrand was just jogging back into position and neither Lemina or Hojbjerg got back in to defend the centre of the penalty area. For the second goal, Stuart Armstrong found him self on the left back position and produced the most namby-pamby bit of defending we’ve seen for a while and believe me, we have seen a few.

We bought Armstrong to be that link between midfield and attack, to be a midfield player who had efforts on goal. He doesn’t fit anywhere in a 4-4-2 formation unless he is playing in the number 10 role just off a striker. Whatever happened to that club philosophy of all the teams playing the same formation. It’s almost like we sign players to play one formation and then chuck it all up in the air so we end up with Armstrong who can’t play anywhere really and two giant centre backs, neither of whom are quick. There has to be a change in the central defence with Yoshida being the obvious player to come in.

As for the lack of cutting edge. Our first four seasons in the Premier League we played with Rickie Lambert or Graziano Pelle up front. We had a focal point with those players and we have smaller more mobile strikers like J-Rod, Adam Lallana or Sadio ManĂ© (I’m leaving out fucking Juanmi). We absolutely need a target man to give us some focus because basically, if Ings comes short then we have no one at the moment who is likely to score a goal anywhere near the opposition goal. I heard that he was carrying a slight hamstring injury but for the love of God, give Sam Gallagher a go and soon. He might not be brilliant and he might not be good enough but he is a striker that Pochettino, our best manager of recent times, thought was good enough at 18 to play in the Premier League. Give him a fucking go. He cannot be worse than Long and Austin who are proven not good enough and not fit enough respectively.

Why are football people scared of trying something different? It reminds me of the argument how are used to have over Le Tissier and Gascoigne in the England team and everyone went “well that won’t work”. Maybe not, but we never fucking found out because we never tried it. It might of been crap but then it might of been absolutely brilliant. Le Tissier and Ronnie Ekelund worked for Saints, as did Tiss and Eyal Berkovic. So, you can be brave and try things or alternatively, you can keep on trying the same old shit again and again and wonder why nothing changes.

After the game, Jannik Vestergaard gave a very glum sounding interview on the radio and he clearly just want to get out of the way of the questions and Charlie Austin wrote “fuck off” on his Facebook page. I guess some harsh words were said at the end of the game and I hope they were.  There are rumours of a punch up in the dressing room and I hope they’re true as well.

The joke is that Wolves weren’t even that good. All they had to do was play for about 15 minutes at the end and we could’ve lost 4-0 and we would’ve done if it wasn’t for McCarthy and the odd bit of good defending that happened in front of them. I’ve steered clear of criticising Hughes too much because the problems are more than just his. Very few of this lot seem to have the fire in their bellies necessary to go out and win games. They always look like they’re just going through the fucking motions. Hughes afterwards that there would be some different players in the starting XI as this lot have had a chance and not delivered.  That will probably mean Elyonoussi dropping out and JWP coming in but it would be tough on the Norwegian because he was brought in as an attacking left-winger and he’s playing right wing in the flat midfield four with the right footed Redmond playing on the left.

I must admit that straight after this game, I did actually look at the league table for the three teams that are worse than us. I have found two in Cardiff and Huddersfield but you can already see the teams that are going to be down there and it’s going to be Southampton, Fulham, Brighton and Newcastle.

So, another typical week supporting Southampton. Next week we have a visit to the graveyard of Goodison Park in the Reserve Team Trophy, followed by a trip to the graveyard of St Mary‘s next week to play Chelsea who are looking like a very different side to last season and they look like they’re actually playing a different sport to us.  Chances of an upset? – I’d say Zero. Happy days.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Premier League Match 6 - Liverpool 3 Southampton 0

Hughes Demonstrates How Big the Massive Shit Was That Saints took on the Visiting Fans

A nice easy game at Anfield against Liverpool.

Whilst we have been throwing away two goal leads against Brighton, Liverpool have been beating absolutely everybody that the Premier League has put in front of them and also Paris St Germain in Europe - Neymar, Cavani, Mbappe and all that lot. Having played against that front line I somehow doubt but they are shitting themselves at the prospect of facing a Southampton attack whose best attacker is actually a Liverpool player technically and can’t play today. Wouldn’t it just be a great football story if Shane Long was a thorn in their side today. I’m trying not to laugh as I write that.

Last year has Liverpool pissed all over us in both games, winnign 3-0 at Anfield and 2-0 at St.Mary’s.  The abiding memory of the home game was van Dijk just strolling through the game and not breaking sweat along with the rest of the Liverpool defenders.  The away game was patehetic as well and over as a contest before the game started.  Whilst I’m expecting us to be tougher to beat today and not allow Liverpool to just coast through the second half, I have absolutely zero expectation of anything other than defeat. I feel that we will see a return to the 5-4-1 formation with Shane on his own upfront, hopefully supported by Redmond and Elyonoussi from the wings with probably Yoshida slotting in between the two centre backs. It would also be a surprise if Oriel Romeu didn’t play today as well.  I hope it’s a back 5.  The thought of the slow Vestergaard and Hoedt playing against Salah and Mane is scary as you like.

Usually I spit bile at Liverpool and part of me really just can’t be bothered but on the other hand, it is still fun from time to time. On the face of it, they have a charismatic manager and they have a great team playing fast paced attacking football so what’s not to like? The reality is though but I think Klopp is a fucking twat and the arrogance and sense of entitlement put across by the Liverpool-centric media and their fans on any platform you care to mention, makes them about as a likeable as a dose of gout.  It really has come to something when you would prefer absolutely anyone else to win a trophy.  Personally, I’d rather Manchester United won the Premier League and a hate them.  I draw the line at Pompey in cup competitions but that’s not remotely realistic anyway.

So, it’s great to see them fail. It’s great to see Adam Lallana and his career go down the dump. It’s great to see Dejan Lovren fuck up a regular basis but we won’t worry about him today because the chances of him playing, what with the emergence of Joe Gomez and that pesky perjury trial in Croatia, are next to nothing. I’ve done this a million times but the pursuit of van Dijk and the way it got swept under the carpet was absolutely fucking disgraceful and yes, it’s still rankles and nothing would give me more pleasure than him fucking up this afternoon. Then of course you have the YNWA Brigade should be called the YNWAWISU (when it suits us) after the treatment of Karius after the Champions League final last season. It was all abuse and death threats until they paid £70 million for a new goalkeeper and then they decided to be nice to him again.  Then of course there’s the fact that you can’t turn on a TV football programme, read any paper, read any stuff on the net – without it all being about Liverpool winning the league.  Wankers, all of them. 

Mark Hughes has this week been talking up Charlie Austin’s form in training. All well and good that he’s looking in better form but is he fit enough to play for longer than 45 minutes?  I assume the shout out was some sort of motivation because at some point we are going to need him today. I would say it’s very unlikely that he will start the game as a game upfront when you are not gonna have much of the ball is not really his game.  Maybe it will be like that famous game at United when he came on as a sub and score the winner with his first touch.

Hmmm, interesting selection in the event as it looks like a 4-5-1 with Ings being replaced with Romeu and Elyonoussi with Targett.  To me that looks both very negative and unlikely to work as we do in fact have the twin giants against two of the quickest strikers around.  Liverpool are giving Shaqiri his first start and four attackers shows that Klopp is not really worried that we’ll be much of a goal threat.

We start ok and then lose the ball on the edge of the Liverpool area when Lemina fucks about.  From the break, Liverpool win a corner and play it short to Robertson who slides a ball inside the full back to Shaqiri.  Cedric comes over and makes no effort to stop the cross and it flicks off of Long and hits a startled Hoedt and bounces over the line.  Fuck sake.  I thought Wes was a bit unlucky there and there are certainly others more to blame.  5 mins, 1-0 and game over probably.

Now that just stopping them from scoring is out of the window, our attempts to attack rest mainly with Redmond who again looks on fire, finding space behind Robertson and he’s clipped by Firmino as he goes to cross the ball but doesn’t make a big enough meal of it so is never going to get a penalty for it.

Liverpool cut us open again and Salah is brilliantly threaded in between our centre backs and Cedric appears and pulls out a superb tackle to knock it out for a corner.  Danger averted you would think but oh no, over it comes and Matip at the back post has a free header which he puts in the top corner giving Macca no chance.  It’s another zonal marking classic as no one has blocked Matip and Vestergaard is too far away from him to get there in time. 20 mins, 2-0 and game over definitely.

Oddly, we’re nto actually playing that badly when we’re not letting in goals and we get the ball in decent areas but there’s only Shane in the box at best.  A decent pull back from Targett is missed by Long and that twat who used to play for us has to clear it for a corner.  Liverpool break out again and Romeu mullers into Shaqiri, from the front, wins the ball and gets booked for it, I think because the little fat prick went up in the air.  Lemina wanders over as Romeu is getting booked which is the first contribution he has made in the game.  Yep, he’s back to the Mario from last season and not giving a flying one.

We are still living very dangerously at the back with Vestergaard being left 1v1 with Salah but just about get away with it because Salah is not completely on his game though his clever backheel past the post was brilliant and unlucky.  As we reach 45 minutes we get two ‘predictables’.  One is that we will let a goal in as soon as there’s a break coming up and the other is that it will be from a soft free kick award.  Slah goes down under Hoedt’s challenge and the free kick from 25 yards is smacked against the bar by Shaqiri but bounces down and unsurprisingly, no one in a yellow shirt reacts and Salah can’t miss.  3-0 and game fucked and can we go home?

The second half is bollocks testimonial paced football. Liverpool don’t need another goal and all we are interested in is keeping the score down.  Armstrong and Bednarek come on for Romeu and Targett and we are now playing the formation we should have been playing from the start and despite the lack of pace in the game now, we look much better for it.  Vestergaard looks better in the centre of the three and we can get some players further up the pitch.  Austin comes on for Long with 20 or so to go and the game plays out.  Salah thinks he’s scored again but he’s run back on the pitch and was offside and we finally have a shot on 91 minutes when Austin takes a diagonal pass and drills it at the near post and Alisson saves easily.  Crap.

Well that was shit.  Exactly the same as last season where the game was over after 5 minutes and the rest of the game was damage limitation and a waste of everyone’s time and money.  I read before the game about a woman on the Isle of Wight who had a 3.30am alarm call to travel up to Anfield today.  I really hope she enjoyed her day despite the team giving her absolutely nothing to be happy about.  One of my son's mates was going to his first away game today as a birthday present.  So, there’s people like them and people all over the world who got up at stupid times to watch the game on TV or whatever.  Nothing to cheer about.  Nothing to get excited about. Pathetic.  You’ve got to have some fucking bollocks about you to play in the Premier League.  Most Saints fans are realistic and know that we’re not going to go toe to toe with Liverpool at Anfield but we did nothing, turned up, lost, fucked off home.

I wanted Mario Lemina gone in the summer and no matter how good he can be when he wants to be, whenever the going gets tough, like against a top 6 side or in a relegation battle, he just can’t be bothered and strolls about.  I absolutely loath his attitude.  If I was Hughes I’d be tempted to let the coach leave without him and he can drive himself home… oh no!  Maybe Lemina was audition for Klopp and Liverpool – he proved that he was brilliant at setting up Liverpool counter attacks.  So… he was a waste of space and others were below par today with Bertrand having his worst game that I can remember in a Saints shirt.  The Targett on the wing experiment didn’t work – it was probably to double up on Salah but he didn’t play out there in the first half at least.

I think Hughes got more or less everything wrong today.  The initial formation was wrong, the Targett thing was wrong, leaving Lemina on was wrong.  Having chosen to play 4 at the back, one of Hoedt or Vestergaard should have been left out for Bednarek or Yoshida.

Zonal marking was brought in last season because we couldn’t defend corners because we didn’t have any good headers of the ball and there was improvement.  However, we have a 6ft 4 centre back in Hoedt and a 6 foot 7 one in Vestergaard and they’re not marking players and we’re relying on smaller players to block the oppositions huge units in front of them and it isn’t working.  After a World Cup where the grappling in the box was highlighted, surely a system that relies on physical contact in the box is not the way to go.

Liverpool?  They’re a really good side and as long as van Dijk and their first choice strikers stay fit, the will run City very close this season.  They certainly won’t have an easier three points then they got today.

Next up for us is Wolves away, a newly promoted side who are looking much better than us.  At least our Liverpool player will be able to play for us.