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Watt View - Saints Overcome First Significant Test Ahead Of Everton Clash
Friday, 23rd Oct 2020 18:05 by Matt Watts

Saints overcame first significant test ahead of the clash against early front-runners Everton, with the point won at Chelsea last weekend concluding the first of two important games, can they continue the good form in the second.

Following victories over Burnley and West Brom, the visit to Stamford Bridge posed the first of two significant tests of how well Ralph Hasenhuttl's men had recovered from the 2-5 humbling at home to Tottenham.

After half an hour it looked like Saints could be out of their depth against Frank Lampard's big spending blues, with £48 million striker Timo Werner bagging a brace after 28 minutes.

Unfortunately it was the usually reliable Jan Bednarek's frailties in the centre of defence which were exposed on this occasion, with the German smartly outwitting the Polish international on both occasions.

However, with a cool finish from Danny Ings just before the half-time whistle following combative work from loanee Theo Walcott and Che Adams, a response before the break provided enough of a boost for Saints to draw level on 57 minutes through Adams and his tenacity.

When Chelsea hit back just two minutes later through £62 million man Kai Havertz after a slick move, the respectability of a 3-2 defeat given the Blues had raced into a 2-0 lead early on seemed a reasonable outcome.

Saints summer spending of £34.9 million paled into insignificance compared with Chelsea's £226.1 million yet, in addition to Walcott's involvement in the first goal, both he and another new arrival, £13 million midfielder Ibrahima Diallo, played a part in the equaliser.

Diallo, making his first appearance after coming on for Oriol Romeu on 87 minutes, intercepted on the halfway line which led to a foul on Ryan Bertrand and, from the resulting free kick, Walcott's strike was glanced in by Jannik Vestergaard on 92 minutes.

After a strong second-half showing, the point for Hasenhuttl's team was well-deserved and saw them overcome what was a very strong – and expensive – opposition.

As Saints welcome Carlo Ancelotti's Toffees, they come off the back of a point in the Merseyside derby and an unbeaten start to the campaign with four wins and a draw.

Saints will be without Walcott after his positive second debut last weekend with him unable to face his parent club, however, Ancelotti will be missing his star man James Rodriguez after the Colombian picked up an injury from a tackle with Virgil van Dijk against Liverpool.

The Everton man has been a standout performer for the Toffees, though he is one of a number who have made a mark already this season so there is no doubt they will still pose a very tough test.

Given Saints will be boosted by their comeback against Chelsea and the integration of new faces into the squad, Sunday is set to be another exciting test against a team expected to maintain their high level of performance throughout the course of the season under the leadership of the decorated Italian.

Photo: Action Images

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