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Saints V Swansea City The Verdict
Sunday, 14th Feb 2016 10:09

Saints marched on with yet another clean sheet, yet another three points and leap frogged West Ham into the top six.

Saints have put in a lot of hard work over the past few weekss, but a lot of tht work would have been wasted had they not taken all three points at Swansea City, with all due respects to the Swans although this would not be an easy game with Swansea fighting for their lives, it is the type of match you have to win if you harbour hopes of a top six finish.

Ronald Koeman made four changes from last week's win against West Ham, only one of them enforced and three tactical, the Dutch manager knows the value of keeping the squad fresh and everyone involved and this will bode well for the rest of the season as we will not have either a team jaded through everyone playing week in week out, not a squad with half its members with little game time and therefore a little un motivated.

Perhaps the key to this game though was the return of both Matt Targett and James Ward Prowse, both were at the heart of things going forward and put in dangerous crosses, indeed it was Ward Prowse's pin point cross that found Shane Long for the winner, but they both put in an enormous amount of work to make sure Swansea could not get us on the back foot.

Saints controlled the first half and the only real chance fell to Shane Long on the stroke of half time, it was an almost identical move to the one later in the game that would prove to be the winner, Steven Davis crossed right into that area that is hard to defend, but Long couldn't direct his header anywhere but straight at the Swansea keeper.

In the second half it was pretty much the same thing, Swansea did have a lot of the ball although only slightly more than Saints, but a resolute defence did not let them create, in fact it was more than just the defence, it was the midfield that provided the wall that stopped the Swans getting near the goal, the old saying was "Attack is the first form of defence" with Saints it's more a case of "Midfield is the first form of defence"

In the middle of the park Romeu,Clasie & Davis worked tirelessly breaking up Swansea moves and then getting the ball forward quickly and Ward Prowse and Targett were superb out wide not only protecting their flanks, but getting the ball into dangerous areas quickly when they had possession.

Ronald Koeman clearly had a game plan, keep it tight, get a grip of the game and then win it, after the hour had gone he felt it was time to win it and he took off Romeu and brought on Soares for his attacking prowess and it was the Portugese defender who made a great run forward, instead of crossing held the ball up then laid it back for JWP who put in a perfect cross for Shane Long who headed home.

Having got ahead Koeman was not afraid to try and turn the screw further bringing on Charlie Austin for Pelle and Austin himself almost made it two with a shot that Fabianski turned round for a corner.

But Saints did have a late scare, Yoshida for Targett was a little strange although it was only for the final four minutes, however it almost proved costly, what looked like a harmless through ball caught Fonte in two minds for the only time in the game, he should have attacked it but let it bounce and was challenged by a Swansea player who won the header as the ball fell to Paloschi, Yoshida appeared to collide with him, luckily the rf waved play on, but I have seen them given for less.

Other than that Saints were generally water tight, Fraser Forster did not have a difficult save to make but did his job well, in front of him Swansea's threat was mainly about crosses into the box and Van Dijk and Fonte dealt with that very well, always getting a head in to clear.

So another win for Saints, another clean sheet and another performance that was clinical.

Saints have now played themselves into a great position, jumping above West Ham into sixth and only a point behind Manchester United who are in fifth, Saints now have a great chance to chase not only a top six finish, but higher.

Photo: Action Images

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corkcitysaint added 10:29 - Feb 14
A poor quality match overall. Pelle, Long & Romeau squandered some good chances and you thought it might be one of those days.. Very pedestrian performance and kept it solid. Great win though. Confidence must be sky high at the moment with great momentum now behind us.

Can't see us finishing top 4 but 5th or 6th on our current form is realistic.

DPeps added 10:56 - Feb 14
It's funny how often the dullest games are those involving two 'good footballing' sides. A win was probably fair on balance, as Pelle should have had a goal and they probably should have had a penalty. Great work by the defence again

SaintBrock added 12:06 - Feb 14
We looked very comfortable at the back and Swansea would have found it diffucult to get through even if the game had gone on until midnight. Tactically a superb game, no wonder Koeman was so elated at the end players actually doing 100% what the coaches asked them to do. Great concentration, great belief and superb discipline.

Fans seem to be disappointed at our apparent lack of flair but if they want success they must get used to these sort of tactical battles away from home, all that matters if we want to win anything is the result. Keep the ball out of our net and wait patiently for a chance to come to nick one as they nearly always do.

Home games are where we can use creative flair and style as visitors are usually looking only for a draw, more often than not sitting back and inviting us on into a trap hoping to hit us on the break.

Great match, I loved every minute of it.

Bettwsresident added 18:05 - Feb 14
Saint Nick, were you at the game? I was sure it was Davis who crossed for Long's first glorious chance, and Davis was parked on the right hand touchline for 65 mins until Cedric came on for the booked OR, to play right back, moving Davis into the middle. Pelle also had a decent chance in the first half, but blasted straight at the keeper....again!

Austin looked like a real goal threat when he came on. His first option is to go forward whilst Graziano always knocks it back.

The saints fans were great.."swing low" caused a couple of Swansea fans to go apoplectic!

Agree with others that we looked really solid at the back and with the options up front are always worth a goal. Really optimistic for the next 12 games. It is looking good..might even get more than 60pts this year.

IWOZTHERE added 18:47 - Feb 14
Character and belief showed through again. Need a bit more flair against Chelsea but we've got the variety in the squad to produce it. Bit worried when they brought on the winger who started turning Targett inside out when he got 'one on one' in the left back position.
VVD and Long were Immense!

perazi added 21:26 - Feb 14
It was Davis who provided the free header for Long just before half time, and it was also Davis who found Soares in the lead up to Long's goal, courtesy of a lovely cross from JWP. I thought VVD was a clear man-of-the-match and at the risk of sounding grouchy I'm scratching my head at the glowing report by Nick of JWP's overall game - it was a lovely cross but he didn't really have a lot of influence on the game apart from that, although I note the BBC correspondent made him MOM!!!!!

SaintNick added 21:44 - Feb 14
Sorry heat of the moment I thought it was JWP who crossed for the Long chance in the first half .

Sometimes in a game its not always about who takes the plaudits for the winning goal or match saving tackle, its about players who do lots of little things well, thats why Steven Davis has often been a favourite of mine but has been very underrated by a lot of people till fairly recently

When I write these reviews I try to look at aspects that are overlooked rather than just praising the obvious.

VVD was a real contender for mom, he just seemed to get in little tackles and headers at crucial moments

saintsnutcase added 21:48 - Feb 14
Another great performance. Yoshi is the only problem - he could easily have conceded 2 very costly penalties in the last two matches. Why does Koeman trust him?

perazi added 21:58 - Feb 14
Maybe I need my glasses prescription updated but at times it is hard to distinguish Steven Davis, JWP and even Clasie on the pitch. All smallish, fair haired and wear the orange/reddish boots.

davepid added 22:18 - Feb 14
Six wins and two draws would get us last years tally - 60. But we will need more than that, it feels , to get 7 th again as the bottom 3/4 clubs 4 aren't collecting them.

SaintNick added 22:22 - Feb 14
The bottom 3/4 dont usually start to pick up a win or two to the final month, so still a bit to go before they chip in

SonicBoom added 08:55 - Feb 15
Can someone explain why Koeman played David at RWB instead of Cedric?
I simply don't understand why he thought playing a central midfielder who was just returning from an injury, at RWB was a good idea. Not least because wing back is one of the most demanding positions physically.
Plus the fact that Cedric is a perfectly good wing back. What must he think being dropped for someone that doesn't even play that position.
Great result of course but sometimes Koeman baffles me.

SanMarco added 09:48 - Feb 15
Referees watch Match of the Day - the next time Koeman brings Yoshi on to give the opposition a sporting chance the penalty will be given. After West Ham Yoshi must surely have thought to himself "better be careful about colliding with their players in our box" - evidently not.

schatfield added 10:05 - Feb 15
Was it me or did Pelle look completely out of sorts? The side did look a lot better when Austin came on for him, as Pelle just doesnt look interested at the moment.
(side note - I always get nervous when Yoshi comes on!)

RogerToye added 10:56 - Feb 15
This was called grinding out a result with this starting 11 ...

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