Saints V West Bromwich Albion The Verdict Sunday, 18th Feb 2018 15:50
Saints beat the Baggies up at the Hawthorns for the second time in a fortnight to complete a treble of wins over them.
Mauricio Pellegrino promised a strong team to face West Brom and he kept to his word, there were only two changes to the side that had won at the Hawthorns two weeks earlier, but there were to be no shocks in the line up with only the experienced Hojbjerg and Redmond coming in at the expense of Boufal and Romeu.
This time though it would not be home side who would take an early lead but Saints, who for once were not the side who gave away a goal through slack marking, a good corner from Ward Prowse saw Carrillo make a run that took two men with him leaving Wesley Hoedt completely free to fire home from close range.
Saints as usual had a decent first half, but the worry was that they might let it slip again in the second especially when West Brom came out of the traps quickly after the break, however after weathering an early storm 10 minutes after the break Saints increased their lead with a well worked move on the break.
The ball was laid down the line to Nathan Redmond who moved it on quickly to Guido Carrillo who crossed for Dusan Tadic who cut acros the defender before sublimely chipping the keeper.
Butif Saints thought the game was won they shot themselves in the foot only two minutes later, Tadic went for the jugular and was caught in possession and the ball was worked forward to Rondon who fired home from range.
Saints were now on the back foot and the Baggies with nothing to lose piled forward, but it was a strong test of character from Saints who held firm, but it took a couple of smart saves from McCarthy as well as a superb header off the line from Bertrand to keep the lead intact and put the team into the quarter finals and only 90 minutes from a Wembley semi.
There wasn't a player out there who didn't put in a shift, that included usual whipping boy Nathan Redmond who worked hard and played his part in the second goal and Jack Stephens who seems to be benefitting from playing in a settled partnership with Wesley Hoedt and although he is still a way off being the real deal, seems to be learning.
Likewise Guido Carrillo who although didn't score did plenty of good work up front and played his part in both goals, Saints look a better side going forward with Carrillo who has a bit of guile in his play that we have lacked.
For once the manager made the right substitutions at the right times and we saw the game through.
Ironically Saints season now stands at a crossroads, if they can build on what is now only one defeat in an eight game run that has seen four wins and three draws then this season could be interesting, if Pellegrino wins six more games this season then he could be hailed as having the best season in the history of the club, yet it could also go the other way and it would be a brave man who would predict either with any confidence.
However what we can say is that we have a talented squad and in the final third of the season if they can play to their strengths then they might just win games despite the manager rather than because of him.
What is needed is more spirited performances where the side digs in and the supporters get behind them, if that happens then we can pull clear of relegation and more, yes this is hardly a win against one of the big six, but a win is a win and three more in the league will see us safe, add three more in the cup and what a season that would be.
Not sure if 3 more wins would be enough I would say 12 more points. Good win for confidence and optimistic we have the players to stay up. We got behind our team and they delivered my mom was McCarthy good saves and comes for the ball. Enjoyed my day out until traveling home and getting the worse draw possible.
Thought we played fairly well yesterday but WBA again so who knows. Just praying for a decent run of results in March. It's clear Mo's here for the season, so just need the results now. Never been easy being a Saints fan COYR!
It was an enjoyable, entertaining game yesterday and it was a good win, when some managers would have played a so called weakened side, when being faced with a relegation battle.
Without wishing to put the damper on a good win, I would cast caution. Ok, all wins, all cup runs need an element of luck and I will take it for once, but we rode our luck somewhat and Hoedt, despite scoring the goal made some errors which could have cost us dear and we can ill afford in a relegation battle. Other concern, is our inability to win aerial battles either up front or at the back. WBA bossed the aerial side in the 2nd half and it is something Burnley are good at.
The team did play like a team though and all did their best and their was a good spirit amongst them and amongst us away fans and was as enjoyable as 2 weeks ago, so why is it, when we play at home that spirit seems to be missing both amongst the team and the supporters?
Does this win make me believe that we can escape relegation or that MP is a better manager than I have given him credit for? For me, both are very much in the balance. We cannot afford draws now, we need wins and that is the problem and the fact, I don't think we can keep a clean sheet. But, if the spirit and team ethic of hard work is there and the fact that away from home we seem to raise our game, may be there is hope and if we can get across the line and climb the potential mountain in the quarter final, then may be what has been a messy season may not be so bad. One piece at a time I guess.
It was a decent game and we won - the pleasure of that rather dented by the quarter-final draw though!!
Hoedt does slightly concern me - he was bought as our main man and needs to be solid for the rest of the season. Nice to see Tadic score a good goal.
I agree with A1079 re Burnley and the aerial threat. They also won't be as soft at the back as West Brom. Here's to Wigan springing the surprise of the century. I am not saying we would win at Wigan but our chances at Man City would be next to nil...
We rode are like ck at times but a good result which is what the cup is all about. No mention of josh so ms ? Thought he cane on and looked good he took people on and we lack that. Hope he gets more game time.
It's very impressive to win twice at the Hawthorns within the space of two weeks, and we held a 1 goal lead for half and hour, which can't be bad. If we ignore that second half against Liverpool we've had a good run recently and we just need to keep that going now.
I was interested to see that Romeu was dropped. I was beginning to think that that was needed - he is a fantastic player, so committed and defensively so strong, but just perhaps not what we need when we start to go forward.
Seems like Pellegrino has settled on his keeper and back four, and McCarthy, Hoedt and Stephens will only improve as a result.
Seems like Pellegrino has managed to bring the best out of Hojbjerg and Ward-Prowse. Good to see Redmond back, perhaps some time away will have improved him too. Sims looks sharp when he came on. Tadic better. Carillo contributed.
...perhaps there has been some method in the madness of Pellegrino's team selections after all?
Saints played exactly as we would have expected them to play, their style is now tediously predictable, lacking imagination or any element of surprise.
In short this is how the current Saints play and within their now obvious limitations this performance was no worse nor any better than any of their more recent ones. The question now is it good enough to see us through to the season' close and steal time to let the dust settle.
My personal opinion is "No" even 'though I wish it were "Yes". There are too many lapses of concentration, too many errors, too much hesitancy in forward play. They are not going to find the magical solution now that has eluded them all season. This is how it is and how it will be..
People like us because of our "attractive" football and that we are too good to go down because of it. The other side of that coin is that at times indeed we do play very attractive free flowing one and two touch football but if you add all those moments together in a typical match it probably amounts to only 5 or 10 minutes of play a most.
For much of the rest of the time it is a frantic, impulsive, reactionary scramble without purpose other than to win the ball back in midfield. What happens next is then in the lap of the gods.
We have young players and technically some of them will improve as they learn how to refine their own techniques, others will be incapable of change while others still are ageing quickly. Setting aside all the usual contentious issues of coaching and internal relationships, one doubts that at this stage of their careers and this moment of the season this group of players has much more to offer than what we see every weak.
Nick I am so pleased that you are not saying that Hoedt should be playing in the championship. I know how difficult it must be for you not to berate a player for lack of concentration and nearly costing us the game. Thank goodness he hit the net today as I bet Yoshida would have done. Young Syms was a bright light when he came on and with the recent injuries, I am hoping he gets more game time.
Good cup win. Carrillo had an assist and worked hard. He won a few headers against 1.96 meters tall Hegazi. McCarthy had 2 saves that Fraser would never have saved. The draw question ended very well - Wigan! We have e decent chance of going into the semi-finals. The players mood should be high when turning up for training tomorrow. Now 110 % focus on Burnley.