Southampton had 77% Possession - Shut up Statto!
After our two defeats against the big boys, we now have a home game against Aston Villa before entertaining Manchester City. I’m put in mind of the 4 games we had at the start of last season when it was City, Wigan, Man United and Arsenal. This game against Villa is the equivalent of last seasons Wigan match in that it is the one that we were pinning our hope on winning. It was the ‘easy’ one, the banker and last year, we played crap and lost it.
From what I’ve seen of Villa this season they don’t look like they have a lot of ability in their side but they do have spirit, as illustrated by a comeback from 2-0 down to draw against West Brom recently in the ‘Dreadful Accent Derby’. They sit back with 9 or 10 behind the ball and play on the break with pace. Benteke was their main man last year and at the start of this but he seems to have dried up after having his head turned in the summer, probably by those master head-turners from White Hart Lane. Paul Lambert is their manager and it makes me laugh when people have a pop and Mauricio not speaking English in his interviews when Lambert clearly doesn’t either, favouring a low Scottish tinged mumble. They always bring a decent following and upon my arrival at SMS, I see that there are a fair few of them here which for a midweek game, should be applauded.
We know that Saints have a few injuries before the game and everyone is expecting King Artur and Morgan to be missing but we are not expecting Jose Fonte to have been dropped to the bench (the twitter rumour being that he was late for training one day) and replaced with Maya Yoshida who has only played Capital One Cup matches this season and only made the bench for one league game. Clearly Big Jos will play when Dejan is unavailable and Maya the same with Jose… it’s a left and right thing. As expected, Steve Davis takes Morgan’s place and Paolo Gazzaniga is in goal as Superkelv is unfit, presumably with rickets. Villa have dropped Benteke to the bench and replaced him with Kozak who looks about 6 foot 6.
Away we go and immediately Saints get the ball down and try and play. The first incident of note is J-Rod breaking down the right and crossing to Sir Rickie who plays it into Lallana. His turn past the last defender almost gets him free but the tackle comes into clear it. I really wish Sir Rickie would just smash it sometimes. The next attack again sees Lallana involved this time on the left as his cross flicks off a Villa defender and loops up and over Guzan before landing on the crossbar and bouncing clear.
It’s still all us as Guzan is very close to handling outside the box and then gets a bit lucky again as J-Rod takes aim from 25 yards and Guzan saves it using his chest. The ball then goes out for a Villa throw, time passes, civilizations fall, civilisations rise again, the icecap melts, coastal erosion reclaims land for the sea and stalagmites and stalactites grow a centimetre. We wait…. And then Villa take the throw in. It’s fucking ridiculous. We are ten minutes in and it’s 0-0.
It’s not 0-0 for much longer though Adam Lallana turns into trouble on the edge of the Villa box and loses it. The defender plays a straight ball up to Agbonlahor which should be intercepted by Yoshida but he, in a moment of complete wank, decides to guess which way Agbonlahor is going to turn and gets it wrong, ignoring the ball, leaving him with a run on goal. He’s away and as he reaches the box, Dejan comes over and dives in, Agbonlahor skips round him, walks up to Gazza who sits down and chips it into the net. Calm finish but running to the Saints fans and giving it the ear cupping thing is slightly unnecessary you thick Brummie twat. I am still getting used to being in the family centre and even more so today as my son is not with me (school night) and so I let go a massive ‘FUCK OFF YOU WANKER!!!’ before I remembered where I was. Apologies to the parents of the kids who sit near me even if you don’t care about it being a school night.
From the restart we are straight back at the with Shaw making inroads on the left and the ball eventually switched via JWP to Clyne and his cross is met well by J-Rod but tipped wide by the flying Guzan. JWP’s corner is met by Lovren but his header hits J-Rod in front of the keeper so Villa get lucky again. More excellent play involving Steve Davis and Sir Rickie sees the big man float a lovely ball over the defence to Lallana but this time a Villa defender does very well to turn it away for a corner. Again another chance comes from the corner as it’s played short to Shaw who drills a powerful shot straight at the keeper.
Movement on the bench and Pirate Pete is coming on in what looks like a tactical substitution. JWP is the man to make way as Mauricio obviously feels we need another striker to put a bit of pressure on the Villa defence. We will see if it works after half time which is where we now find ourselves and ridiculously, we are 1-0 down.
For the first time this season I actually miss the Chuckle Brothers who would at this time be talking some inane bollocks about the game to which I would listen for about three minutes before waiting for someone else to tell them to shut up before telling them myself. I wonder how they are. I wonder if the new design of programme helps or hinders the volume of duck noise you can make when you roll it up. Twats.
Big Vic is not out for the second half and is replaced by Corky. I cannot imagine that this is tactical or to save him from being booked and missing the City game so we can only assume that he’s injured as well. Whilst we are adjusting, Villa get in our half for a second time with El Ahmady getting in down the right and sliding it across goal with no one to apply the finish.
Villa have had to make a change at half time with Vlaar being replaced at centre back by Lowton which can only be a good thing for us and simple as you like we are level as Corky sends Clyne away on the right and his cross is superbly headed in by J-Rod to make it 1-1 and the most deserved equalizer of all time. We still fly at Vila after the goal and the Pirate tries to backheel a Lallana cross past Guzan but doesn’t get quite enough on it.
Clyne unfortunately doesn’t last much longer and goes down injured and is virtually straight off implying another problem. Mauricio has gone tactics mad tonight and brings Jose Fonte on and we’ve gone to 3 at the back with Shaw on one wing and Lallana on the other which when you think about it, is not a bad idea as Villa are not using the wings at all…. Until we let them. Dejan shanks a clearance to a Villa player but Corky wins it back. So far so good but then he loses is again on the right wing, one big cross, a free header for Kozak from about 5 yards out, goal, 2-1 Villa, oh fuck off! Fonte and Yoshida are in the vicinity but not marking him and Gazza has predictably just stayed on his line and done nothing to try and prevent it.
Bizarrely, Kozak is immediately subbed for Benteke which is going to give Yoshida the chance to do what he normally does and play like a fucking clown against a big striker. Again we’re straight back on it with J-Rod expertly controlling a long ball forwards and feeding the Pirate whose shot is well saved by Guzan once more. Guzan wellies it up the pitch, Yoshida shits himself as Benteke comes near him and gets lucky as Benteke smashes it miles over the bar.
Lo and behold we are back level soon after as Jose gets down the right win and slings over a deep cross which Sir Rickie heads back into the mixer from beyond the back post and the Argie-Italiano-Rock-n-Roll-Johnny-Depp-a-like bullets a header into the net to make it 2-2.
Yet more Saints attacking as we push for a winner and Lallana’s cross is met by J-Rod who doesn’t quite get the header right this time and Guzan scrambles across to save and give us yet another corner. It comes to nothing though and from our next attack, Lallana loses it and one pass later, Delph is running with it. No one gets near him and from 30 yards he smashes it left footed into the top corner, giving Gazza no chance at all. Fucking hell…. Brilliant goal but fucking hell. We may as well go home. How the fuck are we behind yet again?
This time, it seems to have had a major deflating effect on the side and we produce very little by way of response. We have one major chance which is a free kick awarded for a Villa centre back going mountaineering on Sir Rickie but the free kick is so close to the edge of the box and central that the Big Man can only hit the wall with it. Maybe a smash under the wall would have been the better option.
As Villa and Guzan in particular, waste whatever time is left (I can understand it now however), there is just time for Weimann to put a red card tackle in on Shaw which causes everything to kick off. It of course wasn’t deemed a red card tackle by the spineless referee and the Villa centre back taking a cheap shot and smacking Dani Osvaldo from behind wasn’t seen by the lino either, just of course the retaliation which saw our man booked. Frustration at the scoreline and the piss-weak officiating at the end saw it kick off again as the game ended - well done ref, do your fucking job – it’s a red card whether it’s the first minute or the last or anywhere in between.
I’m angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Talk about fucking daylight robbery (even in an evening match). If luck was shared out over a season then Villa are going to get relegated as they’ve used all theirs. Don’t get me wrong, from their point of view it’s a perfect away performance – soak it up, defend deep, hit on the break, get near the opposition goal 4 times, scored 3 from 3 on target shots. Efficient, thankyou very much. Bastards though, the timewasting, the lack of any football, Agbonlahor’s unnecessary goading and moaning, Weimann’s ridiculous hack at Shaw… and their manager who doesn’t speak English…
From our point of view it’s a nightmare. Apparently we had 77% possession – let’s start with that. How much of that 77% was spent knocking it sideways in front of the Villa defence. When it became obvious that Villa weren’t going to be drawn out of defence (about 5 minutes in) we should have concentrated our efforts in going over or round their defence. We eventually scored twice with crosses from the wings. Having said that we did create a hell of a lot of chances and on another day would have scored 6.
The fringe players who played tonight totally proved why they are fringe players. They did this in the Capital One Cup games but I thought that integrating 2 or 3 with the regular first teamers would be ok. However, Maya Yoshida was piss poor all night, Corky started ok and gradually got worse and though people will say Gazza wasn’t at fault for any of the goals, his lack of presence means that you may as well just tie a keepers jersey to the crossbar or have one of those wireframe men they use for practicing free kicks in goal. If it hits him then great but don’t expect Mr Wireframe to do anything like command the six yard box. He did nothing to even attempt to make it difficult for Agbonlahor for the first goal and should have come for the cross on the second goal. Yoshida and Fonte lost Kozak but it looked to me like they were expecting Gazza to come and catch the ball as King Artur would have done and even Superkelv would have done. This is why goalkeepers tend to be a little bit older as presence is something you develop as you get older which is why 10 stone 21 year olds shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team of a Premier League side unless they are truly exceptional. I dunno if we can use the emergency loan thing to get in a keeper but if so, a month of Julio Cesar would be worth the money.
There were some good performances in amongst it with J-Rod and Steve Davis having good games and Dani Osvaldo having his best game yet for us and deserving his goal. I cannot believe we lost that and neither will anyone associated with the club. In hindsight I think Mauricio got his tactical changes during the game more or less right but the starting XI was wrong. It was bizarre to play JWP in Morgan’s role which he is not suited for and really, Corky should have played from the start. Of course, Yoshida should never have started Dejan could have played on the right with Big Jos on the left.
Injuries to Clyne and Big Vic to add to the knocks to King Artur and Morgan mean we are unlikely to be without 4 of our preferred starting 11 against Man City on Saturday. Big Vic in particular is going to be massively difficult to replace and his importance in the system we play was well illustrated in the second half. There is hope of Morgan recovering and if he does, we have to play the same way as we did last season with him, Corky and Steve Davis in midfield. One assumes Jose Fonte will be back in central defence and if we are to get something from the game, we’re going to have to keep them away from Gazza who is currently 100%, 5 shots and 5 goals.
A day later, still fucking angry, Mauricio says he’s angry too, not as much as me Senor.