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Saints V Sheffield United The Verdict
Sunday, 13th Dec 2020 14:40

The fans returned to the stadium and the team showed that they can win in front of them, showing how much improvement has been made since the turnstiles last clicked at St Mary's back in March.

This game had banana skin written all over it, surely Sheffield United could not fall to yet another defeat, after all in the final game of last season just a few months ago they had taken a half time lead and looked good to finish the season with a flourish.

But from the start it was clear that since that game, one side had grown in stature and confidence and another was a shadow of it's former self.

The game took a familiar pattern for both sides, the Blades got everyone behind the ball and tried to go on the break and we passed and passed and looked for an opening.

The truth is that this was as one sided a match with Saints in control as we have seen for a long time, Sheffield United failed to register a single shot on target and Alex McCarthy's only real contribution was to offer his back four an option to pass too as they built up wave after wave of going forward.

Ironically it was a self inflicted injury that ended any slim hope of the visitors getting a goal, Ollie McBurney had put himself about a bit but when Kyle Walker Peters made a clean tackle he made a theatrical dive which damaged his own shoulder, he soldiered on but went off a minute after the break.

For all the pressure Saints struggled to get a shot on target in the first half early on, but nerves were settled when Che Adams took advantage of some kamikaze defending and goalkeeping to slot home.

The goal on 34 minutes settled the nerves and you felt that there was no way back for the Blades.

They came out and had a go in the second half and for the first 10 minutes we had to work hard to make sure they didn't do anything with the ball and they knew their luck was out when Stuart Armstrong's shot took a big deflection to double the lead on the hour mark.

Now it was just a question of would the Sheffield United team crumble or dig in, in fairness they kept going but we were sticking to our game plan and it was good to see that we didn't pile forward in droves, we kept our shape and made sure we didn't give them any opportunity to get a sniff of a comeback.

Nathan Redmond came on with 10 minutes to go and looked lively, within two minutes he scored and it was a well worked goal, Redmond looked fired up having not had much chance of game time lately due to injury and finding himself behind Theo Walcott in the pecking order.

It could have been more, Danny Ings just couldn't beat the keeper on a couple of occasions and late on when seemingly one on one tried to lay it across goal.

All in all a good team performance and great to see how we now have a discipline and a work ethic that has seen us rise from the bottom of the table after a couple of defeats in our opening two fixtures, to 3rd in the Premier League after 12 games although that could change and drop us to 4th after Leicester play later in the day.

If we want to challenge for the European places this is the type of game that we have to win, we have to make sure we don't slip up, beating the bottom sides is as important as beating the ones higher in the table.

Once again a great team performance, no one player could lay claim to man of the match, but all 11 plus the subs could say they had solid performances.

Satisfying win, we have set our standards now we have to continue to maintain them.

Photo: Action Images

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theralpholution added 14:46 - Dec 13
Another fantastic performance. I know some people don't think we ever replaced Van Dijk and Fonte properly but increasingly Vestergaard and Bednarek are looking every bit as good if not better. With Diallo and a now fit Salisu waiting in the wings we look increasingly strong defensively. Ralph's vision for the future goes way beyond the first team, with teams at all levels playing in the same way. He is a true visionary and the sky is the limit for this team.

Sadoldgit added 15:00 - Dec 13
A solid performance by everyone today apart from Ings who wasn’t his usual, sharp self today. Vest my MotM for the second week running. Good to see some strength coming off the bench too. Apart from the start it has been a cracking season so far.

felly1 added 15:17 - Dec 13
Vestergaard was my MOTM, he has turned into a fantastic player, strong defensively and a range of passing that matches a top midfielder, love to see you acknowledge this as you regarded our defence as championship level.
Good to see us win without needing Danny to score as well. He was busy and involved but not firing on all cylinders. A banana skin avoided, a home win in front of fans and 3rd place in the Prem after nearly a third of the season gone. Let's enjoy!!

felly1 added 15:17 - Dec 13
Vestergaard was my MOTM, he has turned into a fantastic player, strong defensively and a range of passing that matches a top midfielder, love to see you acknowledge this as you regarded our defence as championship level.
Good to see us win without needing Danny to score as well. He was busy and involved but not firing on all cylinders. A banana skin avoided, a home win in front of fans and 3rd place in the Prem after nearly a third of the season gone. Let's enjoy!!

davidargyll added 15:42 - Dec 13
We may not have a whole load of highly/overpaid prima Donnas but my Christ we must be one of, if not the best, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” teams. Forest under Cloughie comes to mind.
Everybody puts in a shift, they all look as if they absolutely love playing for the Saints and results are coming. What more could we want, other than success in the ballot for the next home game!
Oh and whoever said, if it wasn’t for Danny, we’d be down amongst the dead men...? Go eat my shorts...!

schatfield added 16:06 - Dec 13
Very good display. My only critique is that this was the perfect game to bring on Salisu after we went 2-0 up and they looked defeated. Shame we didnt take that opportunity.

But a very solid looking Saints side now.

SaintPaulVW added 16:28 - Dec 13
We looked great at times. I was getting worried though that we would do our usual and be all over them in the first half with nothing to show. Luckily 2 scrappy goals and then Redmond runs through for a Stormer.

I think the 2 most improved players for me were Armstrong and Walcott. Really put shifts in and each were a good outlet when we could get things moving against the 9 man Sheffield defence.

Defence were again excellent. Romeu and JWP were also at their destructive best. As has been mentioned only Ings seemed a bit off the pace. However this is a good thing as it means when he does click back in we have another gear to go up.

Overall things are looking great atm. Great to see , and hear!, some fans back in St Mary's.


SaintPaulVW added 16:41 - Dec 13
Oh and Mcburnie injuring himself by his own dive was priceless.

ExiledSupporter added 16:47 - Dec 13
Agree with everyone's comments, well almost. But troubled by a couple of things a) so many final balls into the opposition,s box seemed purposeless b) too many shots off target (some quite wide) and c) not convinced that Adams is sufficiently quick getting into the box and aerially challenging for crosses.

On the other hand JV has been a revelation, for most of the time that he has been here he has seemed very slow in turning, now he appears to position himself far more effectively (thanks to RH's coaching) and what appears to be some weight loss. KWP is arguably our most consistent player with some wonderful skills. And Armstrong's subtle touches, though often not high profile, are frequently decisive.

Just a word about N'lundulu, though clearly raw talent there is obviously considerable potential allied to impressive athleticism ...this lad is going to be very good under RH's management!

underweststand added 16:55 - Dec 13
All the our superiority , we ran the game patiently and took our chances well.
Good to see Danny back for a full 90 mins. but he 's not found that sharpness again yet, but also good to see others chipping in with goals. Good to see Redmond back and scoring again with a nice finish. Looking at the bench - without Long (and the youngsters Tella and Obafemi) and the yet-untried Salisu...Ralph must feel good about the squad.

Perhaps 3 goals was enough for all the points, but I felt sorry for Sheffield, as we have been in similar position ourselves in the past. They'll need a lot of work to haul themselves up, and will always have the thought - Are there 3 teams WORSE than us?. On this showing - unlikely.

Boris1977 added 18:12 - Dec 13
Fingers crossed we can keep this manager and team together for a few years. As usual as a saints fan we just have to enjoy and make the most of the good times. Coyrs

SaintStu7 added 20:01 - Dec 13
Much make a mention to Vesty. Looks like Maldini going forward and so composed. Just a reminder to give players a chance to settle. Adam’s, Redmond and Armstrong other examples. Can’t really agree that Ings had a bad game, was involved in most of our best moves and only missed two good chances that were well saved and already offside. Great team performance and really proud.

SanMarco added 23:48 - Dec 13
It is wonderful, in these troubled times, to watch the Saints and then look at the league table and smile contentedly. Will we stay up there? Perhaps not, several tough matches between now and half way, but I am enjoying the moment.

My only gripe is the way that, after good first halves at home this season we seem to have a slow patch just after the break. Even today we let them get on top for 10 mins or so. Other than the Spuds debacle it has not cost us any goals but it could have done.

But today is not a day for finding negatives. We can look forward to our next match against another one of the bottom six. We have not won in the league at Arsenal for donkey's years - last year we came very close, we may never have a better chance than this one...

wibbersda added 09:04 - Dec 14
Beat Arsenal, we go Top!

saintpete01 added 09:36 - Dec 14
Last time we played Sheffield Utd at home
I posted Vestergaard looked like he was towing the
Titanic trying to catch billy sharp
I now have nothing but admiration for the guy he’s stuck in there
Worked incredibly hard to turn things around he’s turning into
An absolute gem thank god Leicester didn’t get there hands on him
All praise to Ralph for his faith in this player

MRHALL93 added 10:11 - Dec 14
Amazing team performance. Everyone had a good game today, we were unbelievable in the first half. We did struggle to break down the stubborn defence and were fortunate with Adams goal. That being said every time we lost the ball, we won it back almost instantly. Our press when we lose the ball is so good to watch, Sheffield United must've felt absolutely hopeless after that first half.

It's also so great to watch us at the moment with all the options we have going forward. You have Vestergaard able to ping a ball anywhere, you have a confident defensive unit who are able to suck the oppositions attacking players into the press and pass out of it, which creates so much space in the attack for a counter-attack. Yesterday was probably the first time this season that we've looked hungry to score more goals in the final moments of the game. Against Everton and Newcastle, we looked satisfied with the 2-0 leads and didn't really go searching for any more goals, but yesterday was much different. Very impressed with the confidence that the team are playing with at the moment. I hope we can keep this momentum going for the next two weeks.

Flamingbankers added 11:44 - Dec 14
The McBurnie dive was ridiculous and he deserved the outcome ( in fact players getting injured through diving is becoming a problem - managers have a word). Proud of the sensible and professional performance by Saints. Ingsy needs to get those twinkle toes and clever feet working again and Vesters was my MOTM. The subs did well - nice to see Redmond shooting with controlled conviction. Nearly a third of the season gone - if we really concentrate and believe we can win every match who knows where it can take us. But one match at a time - Arsenal here we come ( who should have had two players sent off on Sunday not one - the ref bottled it).

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