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Saints At Arsenal The Verdict
Sunday, 24th Nov 2019 10:16

It felt like a defeat at the end of a pulsating game, that offered both hope and also highlighted just why we are were we are in the Premier League.

As we walked away from the Emirates someone commented that they didnt think they would be walking up this road with a point, another commented that they thought that it would have been still daylight when they walked back and another that they thought people would have still be going to the game when they trudged back, this was the mood of pessimism ahead of this game.

But little did we know that we would see a game that not only showed that Saints have the spirit to pull clear, but also our defensive frailties that again cost us dearly come the final result.

The first good news was the Saints fans, they had clearly decided that this was not the time to protest, it was time to support our team and from the start a section of fans had decided to sing constantly and as the players on the pitch showed their spirit so did the supporters, none of them are happy with the situation but at the Emirates it was all about supporting the team.

For the home crowd it was the exact opposite it was like the proverbial library and although the attendance was only 88 below the stadium's record, there were thousands of empty seats.

On the pitch although Arsenal had the majority of possession it was Saints that struck first as a quickly taken free kick caught the home side on the hop and put Danny Ings through on goal and he finished clinically.

The lead lasted exactly 10 minutes and slack defending again cost us dearly to gift Arsenal an equaliser that really should have been stopped.

But if anyone thought the result was now beyond doubt and Arsenal would find their form they would be sorely mistaken, in the preview I called for a backs to basic's approach and a formation that the players knew how to play, Ralph Hasenhuttl delivered that and his team responded by delivering a fighting performance and were determined to battle for every inch.

With just under 20 minutes to go Saints were awarded a penalty, the referee was right on the scene and withing seconds had blown for the penalty and booked the offender, but it still had to be checked by VAR and this took an age possibly 3 minutes of standing around and this would cost us dearly, JWP's penalty was saved but it was an easy slot in from the rebound.

Now it was Saints in command, but we had already squandered chances and we continued to do so right into injury time and this like the VAR delay would cost us dearly as once again defensively we left a man unmarked at the far post to fire home from close range to cost us two valuable points.

The mood in the away section was immediately deflated although there was some confusion if the goal had been awarded, the Arsenal players did not celebrate and nor did the fans, had it been disallowed perhaps, the sad answer was no and it was only when the ref picked the ball up and marched it back to the centre spot was the decision confirmed even the stadium announced seemed reticent to announce it.

So this is Saints season, it was a game we should have won, we wasted at least three good chances after going ahead, but the fact is scoring two goals away from home is good, the problem is still that we gift goals, you cannot fault the effort of the back four, but they have to be solid for the entire game and not keep going to sleep on several occasions as they did at the Emirates and have done so all season.

Arsenal may be in disarray but they are still 7th, they are still one of only 3 sides not to be beaten at home, the result felt like a defeat due to the late late goal, but the reality is that this is a good point, not only from the point of view it was against a side who will still be there or thereabouts at the end of the season, but from the manner of our performance, this was a team playing for their manager and playing for themselves, you could see confidence seeping back into the play and we created chances aplenty, sadly we still have a big problem at the back, but that can be rectified in January.

The performance showed that we can stay up, we can pull clear as we did last season, indeed since the Leicester game two late goals have cost us three points, with those we would have been clear of the bottom three, I know we are not, but it highlights how close we are to pulling clear and that it is achievable and indeed if we beat Watford next week we could well be out of the relegation zone.

We are a point better off than we were this time last season, so that is something to build on, Saints seem to like playing away from home better than at St Mary's, that has to change next Saturday, yes we all know there are issues, but we need to find the solution not just make the problem worse, One City ! One Team ! One Aim !

Photo: Action Images

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Sanguin added 10:42 - Nov 24
Lots of positives and lots of disappointments, but I wouldn't been happy to take a point before the game.

I was initially a little worried to see the third substitution and Romeu still on the bench, but on reflection this was tactically spot on. They had five players on yellow cards and all of their best players were attacking, the best way to see the game out was to play it in their half not to shut up shop.

It's just a shame the team couldn't convert the chances to put it to bed.

Boris1977 added 11:20 - Nov 24
A point at the library would usually been considered a great result but when aggregated over this season it's another usual outcome but with a heartening performance.

However not taking chances at one end and then gifting chances at the other is the same familiar story. We always go into games knowing we will concede at least one and usually more. After the two late misses there was an inevitably about what would follow.

What do we expect in the next two six pointers? The spectre of Everton is my assumption.

Unfortunately the team lacks mental strength and yesterday does not suggest hope of change for the rest of the season. The outcome was the same as usual even if the manner of the outcome was not as obvious as early in the match usual.

landerwal added 12:06 - Nov 24
The seven minutes of extra time and the late late goal would have been of no consequence had Saints only converted one of three golden opportunities to score we had after the penalty. That said, with matches of the past few seasons we sat back on numerous occasions with a one goal leads and all too often suffered late winning goals from the opposition. Yesterday we did not. Attack is the best form of defence and we had it in bucket loads. The stats speak for themselves, 21 shots against 12 for Arsenal, done with only 39% procession. If we continue playing with the attitude and commitment we have showed against Arsenal, (a team backed by a certain ex Liverpool pundit to win easily against Saints by at least 2-0), we will finish at the very least, mid table.

spud1961 added 12:25 - Nov 24
Gutted and definitely felt like a loss. However we played very well.. It was like Ralph thought, bollocks has enough of tinkering around and trying to be clever to get a tune out of what he has available. He went back to what got him the job, high pressing, 442 or 4222. Hopefully this is a turning point.. Stick with it and see where it takes us, at very least it is more positive and the playing style will get the fans onside.. The players also feel less pressure playing away from home and we need to help change that at St Mary's. No player ever plays better if you boo him, it is so counterproductive and that was so evident yesterday watching the Arsenal players body language. Next 2 games are so vital 4 points bare minimum.

KriSaint added 12:34 - Nov 24
The 4-2-2-2 formation clearly gives us more attacking flair. Now tighten up in defense and we will have a chance of pulling out of the rel. zone.

the_saint added 12:37 - Nov 24
Must sat hasenhuttl got his tactics spot on I can even imagine the team talk. Hasenhuttl would have said right lads we ain't going out to defend as we are crap at it so its attack attack even his subs were attacking. Until January that's the way we have to play let the opposing team worry about our attacking players then they may not go gun ho at our fragile back line.

wessexman added 12:44 - Nov 24
Yesterday's performance only adds to the total frustration many of us are feeling. That late, late equalizer was so predictable. How significant those two lost points are going to at the end of the season only time will tell.
I was at the Swansea away game a few seasons ago where we survived by the skin of our teeth. A complete rethink should have been instigated then. Instead we have ridden our luck and we need a good portion again this season....how long can this go on for until it completely deserts us? Our defense has been a bone of contention ever since we allowed a genuine leader, Fonte to leave. HOW the club thought we would fare any better this season with this same back 4/5 is as baffling as it is criminal. WHY are the club operating on a skeleton crew? Talk of a few quality defenders coming in in January is also highly debatable. Our chairman is very elusive and sudden rumours of him wanting to offload the club are very questionable and the timing seems odd. Nothing at our club are what they seem.....football in England is run on money and gossip but this is ridiculous. With these crucial home games coming up, things are allowed to fester. WHO is in place to make fundamental strategic decisions? WHAT is the short/mid/long term objective? Should Ralph pull off another survival job.....then what? Are we going to get more of the same? Questions, questions and more questions.....a few answers. In the mean time, as fans we endure heartache like yesterday and humiliation like the Leicester game.

underweststand added 12:50 - Nov 24
YES we would have been glad of the thought of one point at 3pm, but in the end it felt like a defeat after such a gallant battle. Regardless of what Arsenal fans think they ought to be seeing, and regardless of Ralph's controversial team selection we really put it to them and (as Nick wrote) ..we got in 21 shots with less than 40% possession. Sadly it wasn't the defence that really let us down this time, but the strikers who squandered enough chances to have gone into the added time winning 3-1, or even 4-1.

This season is already on record as one of our worst-ever starts, and is only partly tempered by the fact that 4 of our home defeats have been against teams in the top 6, but surprise that we are suddenly playing so well away. A win against Sheff. Utd, and draws v. Wolves and Arsenal were good results from a team in the drop zone. After the Leicester massacre we didn't fold in 2 games v. Man City - so what is happening with games at SMS?.
Listening to Radio Solent's commentators their voices were almost drowned out at times by our 3000 hardy fans who sang almost continuously. Ler's hopr the 25000 who didn't make the trip to the Emirates bring their voices with them next Saturday.


davidargyll added 12:56 - Nov 24
In trying to be positive - honestly! - the one thing we need more than anything - and that includes goodness knows how many players in January - is a good dose of LUCK.
I used to think that RH is a lucky manager but I have seriously been having doubts. Regardless though, definitely a “sod defence we’re going to attack, attack, attack” attitude you can but applaud.
But as I have said before we need to execute our game plan, whatever it is, on a CONSISTENT basis, match after match. And if this really is to be our new game plan, whoopee doo: so no “back in our shells” at SMS, let’s get out there and give it some welly. if we do then we will earn some luck. Trouble is we and the manager are only consistent in our inconsistency.

AmericanSaint added 16:38 - Nov 24
Well that was an interesting game. Like it was said, if you asked my before the game, would you take a point and score two goals, I would have said yes. After watching it, while I am a little disappointed, I have to say the play and attitude was so much better. I liked that RH used Olafami, as his speed caused ARS havoc. Couples of point on their goals: on the 1st, it was a perfect give-and-go that caused our midfield and defense to lose shape and thus they had an open 6-yard box; on second, I will lay that at McCarthy as a goalie should never come out on across unless you know you are going to catch it or punch it (this speaking as a former keeper). He did the same thing at MC and EVER. Next, why did JWP take the PK when Ings was on the field? Anyone know? Alos, the wtf was with 7 minutes of extra time - 3 min for all subs per the rules and where did 4 minutes come from? I could see 5 total for injuries, but come on. Finally, as I have said over the last few weeks, these next 5 games will make our break our season. If the team plays like they did yesterday, with passion and attacking impetus, then I think we will stay up by our teeth. COYR

saintmark1976 added 17:04 - Nov 24
Another two points thrown away at the death by a manager who puts on as substitues three attacking forwards/midfielders when trying to defend a one goal lead for twenty minutes. Ralph is totally clueless and should have been sacked immediately after the Leicester fiasco.Now we are three matches further into the season and only one point better off. Two wins from the last eighteen games says it all for me. How much longer do we have to put up with this direction less drift to the Championship?

bstokesaint added 19:15 - Nov 24
Typical Saints of recent. Expected a cricket score and then left gutted with a point. Ultimately it’s these last minute lapses that are a sign of a team in trouble. I feel sorry for Ings. The lad’s the striker we’ve needed for some time, but when he scores we inevitably wobble at the end.

In other news it’s good to see the Chinese look like they’re trying to get out!

stmichael added 19:32 - Nov 24
Football dominated by money is a total myth.
4 of the top 7 Leicester Sheffield Utd Burnley and Wolves are living proof.
Don’t tell me we can’t compete with these teams.
Organisation commitment decent players and fitness will get you European football most seasons.
We fall foul on 3 of the 4....
Nothing to do with money or owners...
GAO is not the best but if I was him I would want some answers from the people I employ...

KriSaint added 09:43 - Nov 25
Armstrong took his chance and should play from the start now. He offers a lot more than Romeu going forward. He has good legs and a decent shot on him. So him and Redmond in front of PEH and JWP and behind Ings and Obafemi/Adams.
I can actually visualize some goals being scored by these 6.
So I hope Ings will continue to consistingly scoring at least every second match with Redmond and Obafemi adding to the goals. A few from Djenepo/Boufal/Adams/Long and some dead balls from JWP and long shots from PEH and we could be able to find some good momentum!
Come on lads! COYS.

halftimeorange added 11:14 - Nov 25
It's arguable that any two of the trio PEH, Romeu and JWP should not be on the pitch together and possibly as they are all negative in respect of attack, albeit PEH did drive Saints forward in this game so, how come he doesn't do it every week?
If the rumours that Gao wants out at £200M then I hope it's sooner rather than later. We need leadership both on and off the pitch.
We need to go at Watford with all guns blazing. Pity it's on TV with Eastleigh on the other channel, both at the same time. Stupid TV planning with no regard for the fans or the non-league club. I would have liked to go to both and hospitality at Eastleigh is only £30!

LoisDeem added 11:47 - Nov 25
Fantastic Saints fans.
What the players and home crowd need to aspire to.

sandywelsh added 13:20 - Nov 25
With luck our Dead ball specialist Prowse will be dropped now he has missed a penalty and was the weak link on Saturday.

Colburn added 17:00 - Nov 26
If we keep attacking like that all season, we'll be ok. Good point at a tough place to play.

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