Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Premier League Match 33 - Stoke 2 Southampton 1

Do What You Like Stoke.... I Got This!

Stoke have kind of passed me by this season. This is mainly because I’m always asleep by the time they come on Match of the Day.  Entertainment is not their strong point, until a couple of weeks ago of course when Charlie Adam tried a shot from half way down the M3 and scored at Stamford Bridge.

Bizzarely, this week has seen the return of Champions League qualification talk on the basis of us winning last week and Manchester City fading away because their players can’t be arsed.  I don’t see it myself for a second.  As far as I’m concerned we are in a three team tournament with the ‘fucking’ teams, Fucking Spurs and Fucking Liverpool and we have to finish above one of them to qualify for the Europa League.  We have had some news that J-Rod might be back soon but then so might Lord Lucan and the Yeti.

Ronald Koeman had a dilemma in how to replace Big Vic and he did this by moving Toby Alderweireld into midfield and playing a 4-4-2, like we did in the League Cup here.  Steve Davis and Dusan Tadic were on the wings with Graziano up front with Sadio Mané.  We have our favourite referee today as well in Mark Twattenburg.  Yes we acknowledge that he was correct in his assessment on Adam Lallana but we also are correct in our assessment that if there’s any benefit of the doubt to be given in any decision – we won’t be getting it.

A decent start with us popping the ball about and the first real incident is Sadio Mané receiving the ball on the edge of the box and waiting for contact from Ireland who brushes him in the back.  Never a penalty in a million years but a billion years with Twattenburg.  One of Stoke’s first incursions in our half is of our own doing at Steve Davis gives José a shite pass and he’s forced into binning Diouf and gets a deserved yellow card. I assume Davo will be paying the fine for him.

That aside, we are playing some good stuff and Mané plays a decent ball in to Graziano who hits it first time but hits the side netting in one of those moments where those at the other end of the ground go ‘GOAAAAA’ and then realise it’s missed before receiving a loud ‘AAAAAAAAHHHH’ from the home fans.  There’s no let off for Stoke on 24 minutes though as we break and Pellè, Mané and Davis combine to win a corner.  Davis sends it over and José gets in front of his marker at the near post and flicks it goalwards.  It’s going in but Morgan makes sure on the line and deservedly 1-0 up.  Shawcross must have been wrestling with the wrong player.

Having been unable to prevent us going 1-0 up, Twattenburg must now do his best to even things up and from the kick off, Stoke toss the ball forwards and there’s a clash of heads between Fonte and Diouf on the edge of our box.  It’s not a foul by anyone but of course, he gives Stoke a free kick.  Luckily, Arnautovic hits it into the wall and spinning off for a corner which we survive comfortably enough.

The game settles into a pattern for a bit of Stoke bombing it forward and us heading it away or alternatively, Stoke playing football until Glenn Whelan gets it and then he gives it away and we break.  On one such break, Tadic and Mané combine to set up Pellè who drills the shot straight at Begovic.

As we approach half time, Clyne gets booked for clattering Pieters and we have a major scare as a cross into the box looks for all the world like Nzonzi is going to score but he can’t decide which foot to use to knock it into the gaping goal from 3 yards and in the end uses neither and the ball goes harmlessly wide.  Superkelv obviously knew he was going to do that as he was nowhere.

Stoke make a substitution at half time with the ineffective Stephen Ireland being replaced with Charlie Adam.  Ireland has probably heard that a 4th grandmother has died and I’ve no doubt at all that Charlie Adam with try and cripple someone.  Before Adam can pick his victim though, we manage to concede a goal.  Nzonzi lopes forward on the right and hits a shite cross into the box as befits a player with so little ability but it loops and Superkelv waves a kind of limp hand at it and it bounces off the angle of post and bar and back out, to where Diouf reacts brilliantly to smash it first time into the net.  Fucking hell, what a shit goal.  Shit cross, shit goalkeeping.  Great finish though.

With great relish, Twattenburg books Toby for slipping and landing on the ball with his arm and then a superb ball from Pellè to Mané comes to nothing as the lino’s flag goes up as he’s obviously on fucking magic mushrooms and can’t see the Stoke player playing him onside.  We still look decent going forward but Tadic is having one of those games where whatever he tries ends with the ball being gifted back to Stoke.

Begovic decides that he doesn’t like his six yard box and goes walkabout to the left hand edge of the penalty are to try and get to a ball before Mané.  He predictably fails and Mané bets him to it.  I was hoping for a curled left footed effort like in the home game against Arsenal but he plays the percentages and plays it to Tadic on the edge of the box who tries to pass it into the net but Whelan has got back and clears it.  The rebound is eventually recycled back to Tadic again who tries another placed daisy cutter but the keeper is back in the goal now and saves easily.  For Fucks sake – hit it!

Tadic makes one more contribution which is to lose the ball and butcher a decent break before Ronald loses patience and sends on JWP.  We are still playing all the football in this match and another break sees a cross come in but unfortunately it goes to Mané in the air which unfortunately doesn’t result in a bullet header into the net.

Charlie Adam hasn’t managed to injure anyone yet but a flailing arm catches Alderweireld in the face and he goes down in rather exaggerated fashion.  Stoke did manage to string two passes together at one point so Mark Hughes decides that’s not the way he wants to do things and brings on Peter Crouch and anti-footballer Steve Sidwell.  I wonder what we’re going to get now?

We get a predictable result when Charlie Adam predictably fouls Bertrand with no attempt to play the ball and Twattenburg gives us a free kick but predictably doesn’t book him.  To complete the predictability of the situation, JWP comes over to the left and predictably swings in a right footed free kick straight to Begovic who predictably catches it.

It’s all getting fractious out there with Morgan clashing with Arnautovic and Pellè and Nzonzi doing the same.  Both 50-50 incidents result in Stoke free kicks and then we let in another fucking goal.  A cross into the box is not dealt with well by Fonte and when it gets lobbed back in, it eventually via a couple of deflections falls to Adam who smashes it into the ground and past Superkelv to make it 2-1.  Unbelievable.
There are 7 minutes to go and Ronald sends on Elia and Long for Davis and Bertrand and Elia immediately manages to get himself booked.  We play the last knockings with Long at left back and create nothing.  In fact we almost let in a 3rd as Yoshida royally fucks up and Walters gets to the line and pulls it back but it’s along the floor and Crouch can’t head it there so he manages to get his giraffe legs all mixed up and it goes wide.

The final action in a game that really sucked ass is Pieters shoving Alderweireld over and he jammed his elbow into the ground which (as it turned out later) dislocated his shoulder and he’s off on a stretcher with oxygen.  Fucking brilliant.  Twattenburg blows the whistle and we’ve somehow lost.

Well just fuck off!  Like at Everton a couple of weeks ago, we’ve lost to a team who are fucking garbage.  So much for Mark Hughes changing their style to a style where the ball is actually on the floor.  Fuck me!  Every time they tried to pass it on the floor they just gave it away or it went out of play.  They were absolute shite and we still managed to lose.  So, how the fuck did we lose?

1)      Our inability to create clear chances.  Yet again we were really good up until the final third and then it all went to shit, usually when someone attempted a final ball.  Some of the attempted passes were ridiculous but the movement of the forwards in particular was not good enough.
2)      Our inability to finish.  I’m thinking here of that clearance off the line in the second half.  Tadic should have absolutely laced it and then Whelan would have had no chance.  His powder puff effort at the rebound summed it up as well.
3)      Twattenburg.  Well he gave us fuck all apart from bookings.  In a game where Stoke kicked us off the park from minute 1, we had 4 bookings to their 0.  I’m not saying ours weren’t deserved because they pretty much all were but when Charlie Adam can rake someone’s achilles about 10 yards from the ball, right in front of the referee and get nothing, you’ve got no fucking chance.  Twattenburg is an arsehole and it happens every time we get him.
4)      Poor goalkeeping.  We all love Superkelv but that was atrocious.  Straight after half time and 1-0 up and that cross is obviously going pretty close to the goal so make sure and push it for a corner.  It’s a massive fuck up to let it bounce back into play off the bar.  If we’d got to 60 minutes at 1-0 then we’d have won 1-0.
5)      Bad luck.  The first goal was ridiculous.  Nzonzi’s cross was shite and overhit and it bounces off the bar straight to Diouf.  Great finish though.  The winning goal could have bounced anywhere but it went to Adam who shinned it into the ground and bounced it in.  Again though, fair play to him for getting in the box.

We’d had some ridiculous goals go in against us at Stoke in the last few years.  We had Cameron Jerome and that howitzer into the top corner, we had the fucking goalkeeper score against us and today we had the first goal.  Ronald got out the post match speech that he’s used on numerous occasions in the past about us being the better side and all that but he must know that we have a problem in the final third.  I remember writing after the first pre-season friendly that we were going to struggle to score too many.  We didn’t for a while because the midfielders were all chipping in but it’s coming home to roost now.  With Morgan scoring today though, maybe a few more can chip in.  Mark Hughes thought Stoke deserved to win.  Yes Mark – you can argue that you took your chances but as far as playing any football is concerned – forget it.

On Sunday, the two ‘Fucking’ teams were in action.  Predictably, Fucking Spurs won at Newcastle who rolled over 3-1.  Fucking Liverpool were in action in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Captain Bellend’s Aston Villa.  This is relevant because with Arsenal getting through to the final yesterday, a Liverpool win today would guarantee European football for whoever finishes 7th.  Despite this, I found myself unable to want Fucking Liverpool to win and they duly slumped to a Villa side who totally deserved it.  It’s now simple – if Arsenal win the final then 7th in the league qualifies for Europe.  If Villa win it then they’ll take the 3rd Europa League spot and to be honest, if they win the FA Cup and we come 7th, they will totally deserve the spot.

As this semi-final was a case of Underdogs versus Media Darlings, the morning of the game brought media transfer rumours with Villa’s best player Christian Benteke being linked to the big clubs.  Isn’t it dull and predictable?  Also predictable was that when Liverpool scored, Brendon Rodgers would do his trademark ‘cunt’ celebration John Travolta Saturday Night Fever pose and having already brought on Balotelli and him doing absolutely nothing, he sent on Sir Rickie in the 90th minute when they were 2-1 down.  An insult to the man who must be getting very used to being insulted.

Anyway, enough on Fucking Liverpool, we’ve got Fucking Spurs next at home in a game which will go a long way to telling us whether we’re hoping for an Arsenal win on FA Cup Final day.  Every time we play Fucking Spurs we seem to have half a team missing and this game is shaping up similarly with Fraser, Big Vic and in all likelihood, Toby Alderweireld missing.  We have what we have though and hopefully we can send the delusional ones back to North London with sod all.  Of course they have a manager who used to be manager here and he proved that he didn’t give a fuck about us.  I can’t be arsed with booing him as I’m too old for that shit but I’m gonna lose my voice shouting for the boys in red and white, whoever is out there.  Pochettino is a fucking wanker though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Premier League Match 32 - Southampton 2 Hull 0

Keep the Faith

Surely a fixture against Hull City at home is the perfect game for you when you need to get back on track.  After all, they are missing The Great Gaston who will be doing his usual and having no impact on the game, only this time there won’t be the level of expectation that there usually is as he isn’t allowed to play as he’s on loan from us.  There is a real danger of the season petering out for us which would be a real bastard after the season we’ve had so far.  We really should have beaten Everton last week but at least we had the excuse of the fact that we always lose at Goodison.  There are no excuses for home against Hull.

A quiet week had been had and the only noise was the sound of made up bullshit from the media regarding our outgoing players.  Whatever will be, will be… as the song goes.  As for Hull, well this was supposed to be the season where they kicked on but when you look at it, they signed players from bigger clubs who were basically taking a step down to join them and you always question how good or how motivated these players actually are.  When they signed Huddlestone, Livermore, Ben Arfa and Ramirez, the general feeling was that these were good players and they would be comfortably in mid table.  However, scratch the surface and you know that Ben Arfa and Ramirez are brilliant one game and then disappear for and if they’re so great, why did Newcastle and Saints let them go.  The same applies with Spurs flogging Huddlestone and Livermore.  The Spurs reject contingent was also swelled by Michael Dawson’s arrival.  Nikica Jelavic was great at the start for Everton but quickly tailed off and they were happy to let him go.  He’s done very little for Hull and is always injured.  Another big signing in the summer was Abel Hernandez who is a Uruguayan international but he isn’t exactly Luis Suarez.  I would be slightly worried how they’d cope financially with the wages that the permanent signings would be on, if they fail to avoid relegation.

There is a surprise on the team sheet for us with Nathaniel Clyne being absent and Maya Yoshida in the starting XI.  The more predictable changes see Mané coming in for Elia and Steve Davis back in for JWP.  Clyney s on the bench which suggests he’s merely being rested for a game and he’s joined by Paolo Gazzaniga who has always sported a dodgy barnet and today is no exception.  As we are about to get underway, Toby Alderweireld is heading out to the right back berth.

Away we go and Hull gift us a golden chance in the first 30 seconds as Livermore tries to knock it back to Harper and it nearly gets half way there and Long is through.  His first touch is shocking and he shins is past Harper and then can’t keep it on the pitch before it runs out of play.  There are two shocking touches rom Long in this little sequence.  The first one where he knocks it onto his own shin is bad and the attempt to keep it on the pitch having shinned it round the keeper is pretty ropey as well.

Once that little incident had passed, Hull were looking the slightly less shit of two teams who weren’t very good.  A crossfield ball from Dawson went to Quinn who easily beat Alderweireld and fed Aluko and the only professional who’s got a sister who is a better player than him, shanked his effort wide.  Following a poor pass from Morgan and some serious backing off from Yoshida, Aluko gets another shot in and Superkelv is the first goalkeeper given any work to do.

Graziano of course hasn’t scored since he left school but he comes pretty close when Long takes down an Alderweireld crossfield ball and the it bounces intot he box where Pellè hits it well but Harper spreads himself well to block.  It’s a rare moment for us going forward because in the main we are having a shocker.  Hull are closing us down well and we’re either hoofing it or losing it.  Steve Davis is the next to lose the ball and Aluko again drives forward before skimming a decent effort just past the post.

A hoof upto Graziano is next and Alex Bruce has got both arms around him but Mr Friend doesn’t give it.  He gives a free kick and a yellow card to Graziano though when he frees himself and accidentally whacks Bruce in the face.  Well that’s how it looked to me anyway.  Shite refereeing because if you blow for the first foul then the second one doesn’t happen.

We’re still being shite in general and it’s Maya’s turn next.  We have a corner and it gets knocked out to Maya who loses it and Hull break with N’Doye feeding Aluko.  Big Vic is back and he appears to close him down and win the ball but Mr Friend has noticed a quick pull on the Hull player and Big Vic is in the book for the 10th time this season and therefore banned for the next two matches.

Alderweireld takes a pot shot from wide which is straight at Harper and that’s the end of the first half, a first half in which we’re been shit.  Hull are very limited but we’re making them look half decent.  So many poor performances out there with really only Superkelv, Jose Fonte and Graziano doing anything decent.  I spent the half time interval telling anyone who’s listen that I’d get Clyney on for Long, go with three at the back and get Mané up front with Graziano but Ronald wasn’t listening and off came Big Vic to be replaced with JWP.

Hull are still pressing well at the start of the second half and Superkelv has his first dodgy moment since Fraser’s injury with a horrible under-pressure clearance which slices off  hif foot up in the air and José Fonte has to smash it anywhere.  The first decent chance of the second half falls to Hull as Elmohamady feeds Aluko who knocks it back to Livermore whose low drive is smartly kept out low by the sprawling Superkelv.

Toby then pings a ball over the top of McShane at left back and in front of Shane Long whose touch is again horrible but Bruce comes across and needlessly trashes him.  Even Kevin Friend can’t fail too give that and he duly obliges.  Sadio Mané looks like he wants it but the captain is over and telling him to give the ball to JWP who confidently dispatches it Sir Rickie style hard and high past Harper to make it 1-0.  I was half expecting a bit of a sulk but Sadio Mané was the first one of=ver the JWP as he celebrated. Get in.

We don’t really deserve to be in front and we are grateful to Bertrand on the line to clear a Chester header following a corner.  Mané has had a poor game and he’s off to be replaced with Tadic and Elia is on for Long soon after. Shane applauds the Hull fans and they in turn kind of ignore him.

Tadic has gone to the right wing and one thing is apparent and that is that he’s far too good for McShane who he turns inside out about four times before crossing. Saints are down that wing again and Tadic cuts infield and plays a a nice abll to Morgan who drives to the line, cuts in and knocks a little pass to Graziano who smashes it in the net for 2-0.  Game over methinks and me also thinks the Big Italian will be rather relieved that he’s finally scored.

With ten minutes to go, Hull are all done and we have a decent chance to make it 3-0  as Toby plays a lovely 1-2 with Graziano before picking out Steve Davis with a lovely low cross but the man who never scores waves his left foot at it and wafts it hopelessly over the bar from 10 yards.  It was really too much to ask for him and JWP to both score in the same game.

In the end it was quite comfortable once the penalty hit the net and we cantered it from that point on really.  In the first half we were absolute shit and no one aside from Superkelv was having a good game.  In the second half the number of players playing well was much higher.  Maya Yoshida in the first half for example was absolutely woeful but in the second he was outstanding and it was a similar story for Morgan Schneiderlin, Graziano Pellè, Ryan Bertrand, Toby Alderweireld and José Fonte.

The substitution by Ronald Koeman and the tactical change that the introduction of JWP enabled was key to turning the game around and it’s so good to know that we have a manager capable of doing this.  He was also very honest in his appraisal of the game, saying that the first half was unacceptable and he’s spot on with that.  Though Hull had the better of the first half, they were still shit only that we were worse.  We only had to get out of first gear for about 15 minutes to win the game comfortably.  If the measure of a side is how they react to adversity then Hull are shite.  Once the penalty went in then they had nothing.  They kept trying but Superkelv could have been in a deck chair for the last half an hour.  I like Steve Bruce and he’s always very complimentary about Saints but it would be a major surprise to me if Hull stayed up – they have nothing up front and 0-0 draws are not going to get you out of it.

Having said that about Steve Bruce, he did have a bit of a moan after the game about the Graziano incident, saying that he should have been sent off.  I can see his point but it didn’t look like he meant it to me.  At the time I thought it was a case of the referee causing the problem as he ddidn;t give the obvious free kick when Alex Bruce grabbed hold of Graziano and as he’s freed himself he’s caught him.  If the ref gives the first free kick for holding like he should then we don’t have a problem.

I thought Graziano was superb today.  His hold up play was absolutely top class as was his passing.  He had to chances at goal, scored one and brought a decent save with the other.  He annoyed me at one point when he didn’t get a pass from Long and he was still throwing the big ‘Mamma Mia’ and looking at the sky for effect when we’d won the ball back and were looking to pass to him.  Ryan Bertrand got annoyed at this as well and was pointing this out to the Saints bench at the time.

Ha ha ha – Spurs lost at home to Villa so with Liverpool paying on Monday, we are up to 5th.  Unfortunately, Liverpool have a bye as they are playing Newcastle at home and they are shite.  It appears to be ‘advantage Saints’ in the race for a Europa League spot but let’s for a moment get unrealistic and not that Manchester City are in 4th and appear to be in freefall after a chastening 4-2 dicking by United who now seem nailed on for 3rd place.

Next up is an away trip to mid-table Stoke City.  We’ve already beaten them twice this season so why not?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Premier League Match 31 - Everton 1 Southampton 0

"I will give you a chance by picking a shit forward line"

A week of internationals has passed since Saints last game and as is my want, I’ll focus on the Hodgson revolution and England.  The original squad he chose for the England game included Fraser Forster who subsequently got injured and Nathaniel Clyne.  Ryan Bertrand was not selected and saw Baines, Gibbs and Shaw called up ahead of him.  Following Fatty Shaw’s predictable withdrawal with a pie related injury, Danny Rose was called up as Hodgson slapped Bertrand in the face again.  Before the first game against the Lithuanian World Football powerhouses, Rose dropped out and Hodgson said he wasn’t calling up a replacement – another slap.  Following another crushingly average Baines performance, I’d like to think that he finally saw sense and Ryan got the call to replace Baines who was returning to his club, presumably to learn how to defend.

Anyway, yours truly was present at Wembley Stadium to witness the 4-0 win, the highlight of which was Harry Kane doing a Sir Rickie and coming on the score with virtually his first touch.  I have to say that he looks a very good player with some very good movement and he could have scored more if England actually delivered the ball into the box instead of pissing about with it.  The other goals came from Rooney early on, Welbeck who was our best player and Sterling who only played for 5 minutes despite being on the pitch for 90. Clyney was no more than average at right back, not helped by once again having Henderson playing in front of him who was dogshit.  The guy can’t pass water and when he eventually went off and Ross Barkley came on, the Everton man only seems to look left so clubmate Baines got a lot of the ball, usually to no effect whatsoever.  The original selection was strange… actually it was shit; a midfield three of Henderson, Carrick and Delph is really not what you need against very poor opposition at home.

Onto Italy and a friendly and Graziano Pellè lined up against us in an experimental Italian side.  Even with a different side, the Italians represented the best side Hodgson’s England had played against since the World Cup fiasco which has been completely glossed over by the media.  A few qualifying wins against utter dross does not justify Wayne Squirrel Head’s assertion that teams are scared of England now.  Predictably, Hodgson picked a ballbag of a side with Phil fucking Jones in midfield when he’s not even good enough in his correct position.  Oddly enough and with total unpredictability, the Henderson-Jones-Delph dream combo in midfield was utter, utter shit and we were 1-0 down when Italian centre back Chiellini totally skinned Jones and crossed for Graziano to flick a header past Joe Hart.  It was odd moment as I was delighted for the goalscorer and the effect it could have on his form for Saints.  To cut a long story short, Hodgson got lucky when Smalling got injured and Jones had to move back into defence and Carrick came on.  Clyney had a piss-poor game and was off at half time though he’s obviously been reined in as he didn’t seem prepared to attack. 

We were better with Carrick on (which also says a lot) and another sub Andros Townsend lashed in a decent equaliser and we ended up drawing 1-1.  Our subs definitely made a difference but so did theirs as the Italians became a bit shambolic when 6 players went off, including Graziano.  The Ryan Bertrand pisstake continued as Gibbs started the game and played 88 minutes, including missing a near-sitter.  On came Ryan for 3 minutes and I’m really not sure whether that was a reward or a snub.  I guess it proved that Hodgson knows he’s not French now.

Overall, I saw nothing in these two games to prove Hodgson has a clue and that we will be any better in Euro 2016, than we were in World Cup 2014.  We have the nucleus of a good young vibrant squad but I do not trust Hodgson not to completely waste it with his chronic conservatism.  Our best hope seems to be that he goes senile and hands over to Gary Neville.

All the internationals came back to Staplewood with no problems with the exception of Steven Davis who was forced off with a knock at half time for Northern Ireland.  Everton have revived a bit in recent weeks but they’ve still had a very poor season as Martinez sets about demolishing what Moyes built up over the years.  We dicked them at St.Mary’s early on in the season by basically outplaying them in midfield so I’m hoping that Gareth Barry with the pace of a 50 year old is in midfield and we have some serious joy there with Big Vic, Morgan and probably JWP.

The team new starts off with the expected Superkelv in goal, the expected back 4 and as expected, JWP in midfield in place of Steve Davis.  The front 3 of Pellè, Long and Elia wasn’t what I expected though.  Not a lot of creativity there.  Everton have a few problems of their own with Lukaku missing so it’s Kone up front with Barkley playing off him.

You can tell Everton aren’t in that great a nick from the kick off as we fly at them and they kind of do nothing to respond to us zipping the ball about aside from all dropping deep.  The early pressure predictably just produces an offside rather than anything useful like a corner or perish the thought, a shot on goal.  Everton’s first run sees Forrest Gump Lennon going diagonally from right to left before laying it off to Leon Osman who curls a shot well side of Superkelv’s left hand post.

Ross Barkley is undoubtedly a very talented boy but he’s in Big Vic’s yard and he’s got the ball that Big Vic wants.  Big Vic gets what he wants and trashes Barkley and sets Long away on the right.  He flies past Baines’ attempt at defending (standing there and letting him go) and floats a lovely cross over to Pellè who reaches it on the stretch and diverts it over Howard and it looks like it’s dropping in until Howard arches back and claws it off the line.  It’s a brilliant save but regardless of that, it’s a very annoying one.

It’s all Saints for a bit and from the next attack, JWP clips a lovely ball over Coleman with the outside of his right foot but it comes to nothing as Bertrand feeds Elia whose cross into a decent area is cleared.  Everton then have a little spell; they win one corner when Bertrand gets a decent tackle in on McCarthy who is trying to get onto Kone’s knock down and win another as Barkley dribbles across the top of the box and shoots with Jose deflecting it wide.  The corner comes in from Baines, it hits a couple of bodies and lands with Barry who stabs it across to where Jagielka is awake while all around are sleeping and he prods it into the net.  No chance for Superkelv but what a shit goal.  If Gareth Barry, possibly the worlds slowest player is first to react then we’re doing something wrong.

Having conceded from the tiniest spell of pressure we are back on the attack and Elia and Long work the ball to Pellè and as he advances past Stones, the youngster cynically takes him out and the referee decides that the most obvious blatant yellow card foul is not a yellow.  This is 20 yards out and just right on centre and up steps JWP for yet another attempts at his first goal in The Premier League and it’s round the all and curling and the keeper is rooted to the spot but it slides just wide as everyone in red and white holds their head.

JWP is proving a handful in the advanced midfield position and he nearly gets in on the left as Big Vic again swarms over Barkley and feeds Pellè who floats a lovely ball over Coleman again who gets back to run JWP off it after his first touch.  Not to be denied though he’s at it again a minute later as a shanked Barry clearance is returned by Bertrand and JWP hits it to Howard’s right but it swerves in the air to his left but he throws out an arm as he’s going the wrong way and somehow manages to shovel it over the bar.  Ridiculous save from a keeper who has been generally piss-poor this season.

Everton attack as the half winds down with Kone getting in a cross from the right which Clyney clears for a corner as Osman tries to connect with it.  The corner comes in and Jagielka is up and unmarked on the 6 yard line but fortunately heads it miles over the bar.

I have the feeling that this is going to be a frustrating game but we do create half an opening as the second half begins with Toby Alderweireld pinging a class ball over the top which meets Shane Long’s good diagonal run and though the Irishman controls it well, Everton manage to smother the danger.  After fifteen minutes of virtually nothing it’s time for the changes and predictably it’s Elia who is off and not so predictably it’s JWP who is off with him as Tadic and Mané come on.

Everton make a sub of their own with Steven Naismith, or Steven Diving Little Fuck Naismith to give him his full name, on for Kone and he’s soon doing what he does and trying a horrible dive under the slightest brush of Bertrand’s shoulder.  He’s a wanker pure and simple and if referees did their job and actually booked him every time then he’d have to fall back on his football ability and he doesn’t have any.  Back to the Scottish Premier League you go you wanker.

Tadic is doing his best to get something going for us and his corner is perfect for Long to head goalwards but he makes a mess of it under pressure and it apologises wide.  Tadic then skins two Everton players on the right and gets to the line before pulling it back to Pellè who tries a ridiculously optimistic first time sidefooter which goes well wide.

Djuricic is on for Alderweireld in the official last throw of the dice which of course leaves us open for the counter attack and Lennon scurries forward only to be halted by a very well timed lunge from Fonte which perfectly nicks the ball.  It gives us an opportunity to break ourselves but Tadic makes a total balls of an attempted pass to Djuricic and gives Everton a goal kick.  We have one last chance as we win a corner which is flapped away by Howard, knocked back into the mixer by Djuricic and Graziano is offside… and he missed anyway.  Fuck.

Well that was annoying.  We were the better side by miles but we created very little up front again and with Everton digging in and Tim Howard having his one good game a year then we were always going to struggle.  The first goal was always going to be key in this game as there’s no doubt in my mind that if we’d scored it then we’d have won 1-0 as this is the poorest Everton side I think I’ve seen in at least 15 years.  They had absolutely nothing going forward with the absence of Lukaku and really were there for the taking.  At least we can finally stop talking about the top 4 now because a genuine top 4 side would have rolled Everton over 3-0 today.  I guess it was an efficient win by Everton – you have to score when you’re on top and they won three corners in a row and managed to score from it whereas we had virtually the rest of the match and created very very little.

For the first time I find myself questioning the selection to start the game.  Sadio Mané has been our best attacker by far in 2015 but he only gets half an hour and the same for Dusan Tadic who has been decent in the last few games.  Everyone loves a trier but there was a lack of quality from Shane Long today and Eljero Elia really may as well not have been out there.  I’m guessing the selection was down to international action during the week with Long only playing 10 minutes and Elia being in the Dutch squad.  I’d question why Mané in particular didn’t start as his international wasn’t in Africa somewhere but in Le Harve in Northern France so jet lag is hardly an issue.

Elsewhere, Superkelv was ok and the defence in general did well aside from the goal.  JWP had a lot to gain from today because there is not much between him and Steve Davis for that third position in midfield.  The man just needs a goal and that free kick was a golden chance.  Yes it was close but he has to score from there – it’s getting embarrassing being a free kick expert and not having scored a goal in 60-odd Premier League matches.  He also had a decent dig from outside the box which forced Howard into a very good save and we can only hope that when one goal in, lots more will follow.

So, we lost at Goodison yet again and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as we always do.  I guess it’s a day to look at where we’re from.  We’re pissed off at losing 1-0 to Everton who are traditionally one of the top 8 clubs in the country.  Next up we have Hull City at home who are looking pretty desperate at the moment, just keeping their heads above water in the fight to stay in the Premier League.  We have Gaston Ramirez there on loan at the moment and he’ll be able to continue making the same level of contribution to them as he’s made so far because he won’t be able to play.

With 7 games to go we’re in mini-competition for 5th place with Brendan Rodgers and his shower of Twats and Mauricio Pochettino and his delusional wankers.  Liverpool got hammered by Arsenal and Spuras drew 0-0 with Burnley so there was less damage then there could have been.  Finishing 5th or 6th would be automatic qualification for the Europa League which would be an amazing achievement.  It would also achieve my personal seasons goal of finishing ahead of one of bastrad Liverpool and fucking Spurs.  Come on!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Premier League Match 30 - Southampton 2 Burnley 0

Alderweireld Leads an Old Bloke onto the Pitch
There is a mood of positivity all around as we play Burnley at home.  The point at Chelsea and the return of all our injured players (bar the perma-injured J-Rod) has left us all very expectant of a win today. 

No one seems to be factoring in that Burnley have already beaten us once this season and that they beat Manchester City last time out.  However, they’re in the bottom three for a reason and it’s our job today to keep them there.  They are playing with spirit though and there’s much to admire.  Sean Dyche appears to be an excellent young manager with a bright future and I hope they stay up though as there are many more deserving candidates for the drop, Sunderland, QPR and Tottenham.

One of them, namely Sunderland, sacked Gus Poyet last week after another abysmal defeat when they yet again, completely gave up and lost 4-0 at home to a Villa side who hadn’t scored away from home since 1987.  They say Gus had lost the dressing room – well it appears he also locked it as they only had 10 players for five minutes at the start of the second half as permanently whinging tosser Seb Larsson was absent.  As far as I know, that’s not been explained.  I feel sorry for Gus, said no one, ever.  Tosser.

The Saints week has seen Eljero Elia declared fit for action this weekend and reports of a positive reaction from Graziano Pellè to being dropped last weekend.  It’s been a week for international call ups and all the usual suspects got all the usual call ups.  Fraser and Clyney are with the England squad but Ryan Bertrand is not.  Roy Hodgson values continuity you see – it doesn’t matter that his best left back option was not in the last squad.  Instead he uses the out-of-form and non-defending left back Leighton Baines, the out-of-form and out-of-fitness and barely playing Luke Shaw and the out-of-the-Arsenal-team, non-attacking Keiron Gibbs.  Harry Kane got in though which is a good thing and it also sounded the death knell of Rickie Lambert’s England career, a highly predictable by product of his ill-advised dream move to Anfield.  Such a shame.  Well played Brendon.

Other than that we’ve had contract renewals for Ryan Seager and Dominic Gape and the usual speculation of players signing for Arsenal and Spurs and United.  Morgan and Sadio Mané to Arsenal, Morgan, Toby and J-Rod to Spurs, Clyney to Man United…. Yawn!  The only new one is Sadio being linked which is basically because he played well last week and Theo Walcott is yet to sign a new contract at Arsenal.  That’s how it works folks!

There is a strange yellow object in the sky as we take our seats in time to hear the team news.  Usually I look on my phone before nearing the ground but I forgot today and head reached the communication dead zone that it SMS before I had chance.  Ronald appears to have had a meltdown and picked too many attackers with Graziano recalled and Shane Long retained…. And Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mané.  It’s looking like a very attacking 4-4-2 formation with Morgan and Steve Davis in the centre of midfield which is Vic-less.  The man mountain has racked up 9 victims this season and one more will see him banned for two matches and with the yellow card amnesty coming up, I guess Ronald wants to ease him though to that.  Burnley are unsurprisingly unchanged from their win against City and it’s like a who’s who of Saints connections with Ings and Vokes on the pitch and Jutkiewicz on the bench.  Other players include Ashley Barnes who always seems a bit of a cock and celebrated big time at Turf Moor when his shot which was destined for Fraser’s midriff, deflected and went in.  They also have George Boyd who looks like a rat and dives around like a twat all the time.  He did however score a great goal last weekend.

Saints start well at a high tempo and are zipping the ball about with Morgan at the fore but haven’t created anything meaningful when Fraser makes a routine clearance and collapses.  There’s been a minor collision with Vokes but there’s nothing in that really.  You can tell that he’s done himself though and that it’s serious and that’ll be it for the afternoon and probably the season.  With the medical team on the pitch, it takes about a minute before someone is making the signal to get the sub on and five minutes later he leaves the field on a stretcher.  Bollocks.  It’s time for Superkelv and here he comes to a hero’s welcome.  This is good – everyone loves Superkelv as a bloke but he’s always given me the shits as a keeper and my mind goes back to when King Artur broke his wrist last season and we had a combination of Superkelv and Gazzaniga in goal for 10 or so games.  It was similar to holding a grenade with the pin out and wondering when it was going to go off.

The stoppage has knocked us back a bit and following a scrappy passage of play we get it back together with Morgan sending Bertrand away down the left and he played a perfectly weighted ball into Graziano who took it on the run and instead of hitting it like Pellè 2014 would have done, he tried to jink inside a defender and the chance was gone.  Burnley have found a way to get at us as well and it’s by long crosses and piling in.  With no Big Vic there’s only Morgan trying to pick up the knockdowns.   Boyd swept a long ball out to Barnes on the left, his cross was knocked down by Ings to Vokes who creamed it and Superkelv managed to block it even though he appeared to be diving the wrong way.  Good save that man and just what he needed.

The corner is cleared to Boyd on the left hand side of the box and he takes a tumble and José Fonte launches himself at him.  Put it this way, I’ve seen them given but Boyd’s reputation for hitting the deck has probably gone against him here. José has to stay on his feet more.  He’s done this a few times now, just trashing through everything and getting the tiniest bit of the ball before he trashes the player.  Sterling against Liverpool at SMS springs to mind.

Saints are looking dangerous when they attack though and Morgan tries a sidefooter from the edge of the box which is on target but deflected out for a corner following good work from Clyney, Mané and Pellè.  A few minutes later we’re ahead as Tadic gets a yard on Trippier (who was having a bit of a mare against Bertrand) and crosses.  Sadio’s header wasn’t going anywhere but dropped to Clyne who lashed it across the goal and via a deflection and an airshot from Pellè 2015, arrived with Shane Long at the back post who sidefooted it over the keeper and into the roof of the net.  Get in.

It should be 2-0 from our next attack as the ball breaks to Pellè 2015 and he manages to smack the bar with it from 5 yards.  So it should be 2-0 but 30 seconds later it’s nearly 1-1 as another deep Burnley cross is knocked back down by Arfield and smacked by Ings, only for Superkelv to take off and claw it away.  This is a quality save and gets the whole ground up an applauding.  Great stuff.

We have one further chance before half time as Tadic gets away from Trippier again and delivers a cross to the near post which Davis meets with a flick header and Heaton does well to back-pedal and shovel it onto the bar and over.  It’s half time and things are going to plan though we do need to tighten up in midfield.
The clouds all turn dark and move across the sun and the rain starts to fall.  There is a rumble of thunder and a deep sense of foreboding fills the air.... Big Vic is coming on.  Oh yes, Big Vic is coming on.  He’s replaced Tadic and lines up next to Morgan in the centre of midfield.  We look more solid even before the game has kicked off again.

We’re on the attack almost instantly with Bertrand getting down the left and chipping the ball into Steve Davis who lashes a shot into the side netting.  Davis is having a decent game today having been a bit off recently and is the kind of player that makes the whole team tick when he’s on his game.  The part of Graziano’s game which is still functioning is his hold up play and he expertly brings down an Alderweireld pass on his chest and lays it back to Shane Long who hits one first time from 30 yards which flies just wide.  Heaton in goal was more than a bit worried about that one.

It’s Bertrand again though who sets up the second goal.  His throw to Mané is returned to him, onto Steve Davis who waits for Bertrand to make a run before lifting the ball over Trippier who is still chasing shadows trying to look like a footballer.  Bertrand volleys it across with pace and Shackell feels he has to get something on it but that something is his knee and it bullets past the keeper.  Top finish.  Actually, it’s utter gash.  That’s why you’re going down, as the song goes.

What we need now is a goal from Pellè 2015 and he has another go when we play a short corner and Davis chips one up for Graziano to get his head on but there’s not enough power to test Heaton.  The rest of the game peters out.  Burnley throw on Jutkiewicz for Ings and the new man is lively but no threat and he manages on shot which flies miles over the bar.  They win a free kick when Toby stands his ground under a header and Jutkiewicz runs into him, collapses and gets the decision.  Burnley sub Wallace lines it up like he knows what he’s doing and then shats it wide in Championship fashion. It’s easy as you like and the fans sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Ronald Koeman again.

Final whistle, 2-0, happy days.  Ultimately the second half was easy once Big Vic came on and we had the right blend of attacking and defensive players on the pitch.  Another problem in the first was that Mané, who has been our best player recently, was too deep and too far from the area of the pitch where he makes a difference.  Once we went 2-0 up we handled the game really well and Superkelv didn’t have a save to make in the second half as Burnley managed a couple of long rangers into row Z and that was it.  The first half was a different story though and the veteran did his job with aplomb.  It’s one thing everyone saying that he hasn’t played for the first team for a year – he’s barely played at all as I don’t ever recall him playing for the Under 21’s (as a ‘double age’ player).  Question for you all – who is the oldest player to ever play for Saints Under-21’s? Answer (99% sure anyway) at the bottom...

I have a feeling that it’s the form of Shane Long that made Ronald pick an over attacking formation.  He probably wanted to recall Pellè but didn’t think Long deserved to be left out, which he didn’t.  Big Vic managed to get through 45 minutes without launching anyone and getting a yellow card so no harm done and all is well.  Long was decent again but Graziano is still misfiring somewhat.  Hitting the bar from 5 yards was pretty horrible and though he produced a lot of good hold up play, the lack of confidence was shown with the non-shooting effort in the first half which will give our idiot fringe ‘supporters’ something to kick him over.  After the game he got called up to the Italian squad and the Facebook item that broke the news was bombarded by idiots questioning it and him.  I lose faith in the mentality of some Saints fans when I see things like that.

Talking of losing faith, Fatty Shaw has dropped out of the England squad due to being thick and fat and Hodgson has called up Danny Rose.  Danny Fucking Rose.  Another fullback who can’t defend whilst Ryan Bertrand just rolls on being part of the best defence in the league.  I have decided that Hodgson must think he’s French.  Personally, I’ve spent my life with people thinking I’m French as I have a French surname.  It sounds like I’m joking about Hodgson thinking he’s French but I honestly would not be surprised.  I can find no other logical reason.

Out of the teams at the top end of the league, everybody won this weekend except for Liverpool who lost at home to Man United.  They really had a shocker and ended the game with Lallana being injured, Sturridge being injured (well, there is an England game to pull out of), Gerrard with a 3 game ban and Skrtel about to get the same on video evidence after his stamp on de Gea was missed by the referee.  Be smug about that little lot then Rodgers, you tosser.

As mentioned before – it’s time to focus on Roy Hodgson’s inadequacies for a week or so and hope that Graziano plays and scores for Italy and that no one comes back injured.  There are bound to be more stories of Saints players leaving but the next thing to focus on is our next league game which is away to Everton which will be a sterner test of Superkelv than Burnley provided today.  Let’s do this.

Radhi Jaidi (35)