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Southampton 0 v 1 Aston Villa
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 30th January 2021 Kick-off 20:00
Southampton V Aston Villa The Verdict
Sunday, 31st Jan 2021 10:04

Saints had a few players back from injury and looked a more settled and balanced side, but a good performance was all undone by a lapse of concentration and two awful VAR decisions, but we march on.

I have always been an exponent of VAR, my reasoning is that it is better to use technology and make sure that the right decisions are made, but the game against Aston Villa last night exposed the flaws of the system and how it can actually be counter productive.

The first was the most controversial the ball clearly hitting Matty Cash's arm, the verdict from VAR was the ball had deflected off the Villa man's thigh and was therefore accidental, but it was clear that as the ball had come off his leg, Cash moved his arm to account for the change in direction of the ball.

How did the man operating VAR not see this and take it into account.

The second in injury time saw Danny Ings fire home a deserved equaliser, only for VAR to declare that his arm was offside, given that according to the rules the arm starts at roughly the shirt short sleeve level, there were millimetres in it.

They were two terrible decisions and to get one of them against you would be a travesty, but two in one game !

I am not using this as an excuse, Saints still had plenty of chances to win it, they dominated in all areas, it looked a better balanced team with the likes of Oriol Romeu, Nathan Redmond & Moussa Djenepo back in the squad and gave Ralph options off the bench.

The Austrian reshuffled the side pushing James Ward Prowse to right back and a midfield central duo of Romeu & Diallo, it worked well, JWP marshalled Grealish well and we controlled the game well, but we did lose something going forward without the creativity of Ward Prowse in his usual central position.

We should have been ahead in the first half, but went in at the break a goal down after a lapse in concentration saw Barkley head home unmarked on 41 minutes.

In the second half it was Saints who did all the threatening and should have had the ball in the net long before that late VAR fiasco.

Perhaps the best opportunity came six minutes from time when Villa stopped 3 attempts on target in literally seconds, firstly Jan Bednarek rising highest to Ward-Prowse's in-swinger. Villa keeper Martinez saved from point blank range, before Che Adams and then Jack Stephens seeing efforts blocked as the visitors struggled to clear.

This was clearly a game where luck wasn't on our side, we didn't play badly, we started to look a bit more like we did earlier in the season, but sometimes things just don't come off.

The plus points are that we saw Oriol Romeu back in the side and carrying on where he left off, we also had Djenepo back and the hope is that Vestergaard will return in the next two weeks.

WE are on a poor run, but we are now in better shape to get back to form, there is still a long way to go this season, we have a manager who is working to a long term plan, he knows that all teams have bad runs, but if you stay focused you come through them stronger on the other side.

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LordDZLucan added 10:25 - Jan 31
Actually if there had been no VAR at all we still wouldn't have got either goal because the referee didn't award the penalty initially and for the second one the linesman flagged for offside (he must have good eyesight!). All in all it was a good performance but we didn't have the rub of the green. I think we now need to reset our ambitions for the season. As there is clearly no money to spend (Ralph said it himself in the interview after the game) we need to spend the rest of the season identifying which of the youngsters are going to be able to make it in the Premier League. That means playing them even if we lose a few games as a result.
10

felly1 added 10:31 - Jan 31
I thought we struggled to pass the ball out of defence,
We really missed KWPs pace to bring the ball forward and Vestergaards ability to ping a long pass. This gave Villa the chance to get in position and nullify our attacks.
It's tough being a Saints fan at the moment with the injuries and players who are coming back looking rusty.
A lack of Confidence and self doubt have crept in the players minds all off the back of this injury crisis.
I think it's going to take a while to regain our form.
I hope we can bring someone in on loan to lift the squad.
10

Nomaesaints added 10:44 - Jan 31
A couple of points:

The defender was ball watching when the cross came in for the goal.
Do Saints defenders know that you cannot be offside from a throw in?
This tippy tappy play along the back allows the other team to get ten players behind the ball and pack the defence. At one point we had the ball at the edge of their penalty area and it landed back in our own half.
In the last ten minutes we upped the tempo and should have scored. Why not play at this tempo for the entire game?
9

aceofthebase added 10:54 - Jan 31
We must now teach our players, especially defenders, that once they have touched the ball with any part of their body and no matter the size of the deflection (eg. ten feet in the air) that they can now thrust their arm out to divert the ball. It's good to use the rules!
Is it possible to issue our players with very, very, short sleeved shirts?
Robbed in every sense,
8

Knibbosaint added 11:03 - Jan 31
Is it just me or has Djenepo regressed as a player? He looked sharp and skillful when we first signed him, now he can't control the ball, can't pass the ball and looks like a red card waiting to happen whenever he rries to make a tackle.
3

Boris1977 added 11:03 - Jan 31
Very disappointing but as you say Nick we need to look at the bigger picture and also be realistic about what we can achieve. Its not surprising we are going through a bad run - most teams have them and ours coincides with a crazy number of injuries. Last night was bad luck (I'm giving Mike Dean the benefit of the doubt here) although the lack of taking chances puts inevitable pressure on the back four.

We'll come through this period and who knows maybe blooding some of the youngsters now may speed up their integration into the first team negating the need for expensive transfers.
6

Boris1977 added 11:03 - Jan 31
Very disappointing but as you say Nick we need to look at the bigger picture and also be realistic about what we can achieve. Its not surprising we are going through a bad run - most teams have them and ours coincides with a crazy number of injuries. Last night was bad luck (I'm giving Mike Dean the benefit of the doubt here) although the lack of taking chances puts inevitable pressure on the back four.

We'll come through this period and who knows maybe blooding some of the youngsters now may speed up their integration into the first team negating the need for expensive transfers.
0

ElijahK added 11:06 - Jan 31
We simply lost this game down to 4 main reasons!

1= Some absolutely DISGRACEFUL OFFICIATING! I mean how lee smith is even an official seeing that he’s just an overweight idiot who just was rubbish and I’m certain even Villa fans will agree on that! I mean I remember how he blew his whilst before Romou even touched their goalie along with many more delusional decisions! And Mike dean (VAR) was just taking the P1SS! I mean you can’t much more of a clearer pen as it didn’t hit his though so they’ve got no excuse for that one and with Ings he was level with the defender but just because his ARM (which doesn’t count as offside) was offside so is he!?

2= All of our injuries and our lack of squad depth which is simply down to our pathetic owner and some real bad luck!

3= Just poor form which has really affected our play as the likes of Ings hasn’t scored an open play goal since we played them in the reverse game!

4= Some absolutely DISGRACEFUL OFFICIATING! I mean how lee smith is even an official seeing that he’s just an overweight idiot who just was rubbish and I’m certain even Villa fans will agree on that! I mean I remember how he blew his whilst before Romou even touched their goalie along with many more delusional decisions! And Mike dean (VAR) was just taking the P1SS! I mean you can’t much more of a clearer pen as it didn’t hit his though so they’ve got no excuse for that one and with Ings he was level with the defender but just because his ARM (which doesn’t count as offside) was offside so is he!?

Look I really do think that fans need to do something about VAR now as you can’t celebrate after goals being scored anymore and LITERALLY every teams fans are fed up of them! I think that when we’re allowed back into stadiums I think when VAR is being used whe should go down into the bars until it’s done!
-2

Flamingbankers added 11:18 - Jan 31
I concur with the points both 'felly1' and 'Nomaesaints' make. I was happier with the Romeu and Redmond back but not happy about Walcott with Ings up front. Walcott was ineffective and I was surprised that Adams was dropped - that's a partnership Saints really need to keep together whenever possible. Saying giving Che needed a rest is nonsense because he was on the bench, came on and made a big impact. JWP was missed in the middle, providing creative momentum - he wasn't even used for corners. I thought Dalio would have been a better choice for right back as a faster player, somewhat similar to KWP in fact, and might have coped with Grealish better ( not easy of course). It would have been an opportunity to see if he could be used as a utility player. To have Romeu, JWP and Dalio is stronger than leaving one of them out at the moment. As it was, the forward line were unlucky but they were also pretty ineffective against the now familiar two blocks of 4 defending ( a lot of decent teams such as Wolves, Newcastle, even Liverpool before yesterday, have gone on long none winning, none scoring streaks - breaking teams down has become increasingly harder. Nice to see Redmond back but playing him through the middle is next to useless, I'd rather have seen him on one of the flanks causing a threat. He can't shoot with precision in front of goal and most Saints fans have given up thinking he ever will. He should have scored in front of goal in a central position but blasted the ball over the bar. For me Armstrong also had a poor game giving the ball away too much in the first half unlike his excellent performance the previous game against Arsenal. It was nice to see Moussa come, who like Adams, changed the game and cause more of a threat - he needs a longer run in the team without too many positional shackles. Lastly, the team looked a little jaded and failed to be creative enough or move the ball quickly enough although there was no way we deserved to lose to a very decent Villa and world class Grealish. Just one of those days once Vestergaard comes back hope we can get the machine ticking again.
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SanMarco added 11:38 - Jan 31
Good fair report. We largely controlled the game, looked good going forward but they took one of their few chances and we took none of ours. The lack of goals is becoming a big problem. Given all the injuries (mainly defensive) we haven't actually conceded that many lately. Those injuries are less of an excuse up front. Che has stopped scoring and Theo never really started. Not much from the rest of the Ings supporting cast either, and when Ings doesn't score himself...

As for VAR - it is true as Lord Lucan pointed out that without VAR neither goal would have been given. VAR is like Brexit, love it or loath, it is here to stay. Last night exposed the two biggest faults with it:

1. Handball. It has exposed the difficulties of having an all inclusive rule for handball. Last night was a penalty and a red card and the VAR man seems to have looked for loopholes to avoid giving it. In other words the incompetence and poor decision-making of officials (often excusable in the heat of the moment) is being exported 70 miles to an equally fallible individual who may want to not show up his mate or may just be arrogant or incompetent or both. If VAR doesn't give a stonewall penalty like that one then we might as go back to relying on the instant 'judgment' of idiots like Lee Mason.

2. Offside. I have thought from the start that those lines across the pitch are stupid. We can have no complaints on the decision for this one. According to the rules he was a milimeter offside. The lines said so. The human judgment as to when the ball starting moving forward means, however that he would have been a mm onside a tenth of a second before. Computers are only as good as the information they are given. Why not for goodness sake have what, I think, we all thought would happen when VAR came in - the vid ref looks at the video and quickly makes a judgment. Ings WAS LEVEL therefore onside, goal. Or go with the linesman's error - but don't draw lines and say someone is a mm offside. We have benefitted in the past once or twice from this but I said it was wrong then and it still needs changing. TV nearly always shows whether someone was offside (just by looking) - on the occasions when it doesn't then go with the on-field decision.

Rant over. Final question - why are we getting SO MANY injuries??
3

davidargyll added 11:46 - Jan 31
I’m not going to harp on about the penalty that should have been. It wasn’t given and that’s all there is to it as I’m sure these things balance out over a season. Ditto Danny’s offside.
I reckon the difference between the two sides was Grealish who did show some pretty silky skills and when he crossed the ball that lead to the goal, it was a mixture of a kick and a sort of scoop. You see a zillion step overs in the PL these days, so many that they now are just boring, but you don’t often see that, and I have to take my hat off to him. Yes if you look at our back four they were too far up the pitch when the long ball came to him, hence the ease Barclay had in heading the ball into the net but it still was a good bit of play and you have to applaud it.
As for us, I think we played pretty well but just didn’t get the rub of the green. But importantly as the game went on increasingly we seemed to lack SPEED! Not back to the bad old days of getting to ball forward and then stopping but still there were only one or two real springs out of defence that make you gasp with excitement. So we saw precious little if any real penetration until the last twenty minutes or so. As a result of that up until then it was 13 shots of which only one was on target.
But I don’t want to be too down on the team because we did have some decent performances eg Redmond
But now that’s three losses in a row, and at least couple more injuries...Ulp! Thank Christ we’ve got 29 points on the board because otherwise we’d be in a real mess.
But actually I think this may be a very interesting time because having to blood the youngsters against eg ManU will really show who has the ability to step up to the plate.
I just hope the next few matches are not going to be like watching Doctor Who when I was a kid: behind the sofa with my hands in front of my face...!
4

underweststand added 11:51 - Jan 31
Like you (Nick) I have waited for VAR to come into the game - since the 1988 World Cup, but some of the action coming from the VAR personnel does seem counter-productive.

The " Matty Cash incident" was deemed "accidental ". IF... it hit his thigh first, maybe so but quite clearly, his hand moves away from his body and he palms the ball away.
How do referees judge "accidental " ?. Was it "unintentional" and not done with malice or.. was he just too slow and controlled the ball and decided to use his arm instead. (!)
This case was made even worse, as it was a clear gosl-scoring chance.

Ings' incident . Scoring with; feet, head, shoulder and even "other body-parts" is quite acceptable, but if it's illegal to score with your arm / hand, then an "offside" arm should not be regarded as "an advantage" even if the arm is extended in front of the body.

In a recent Prem. game, VAR disallowed a goal because the attacker extended his arm (to his teammate) indicating where he wanted the ball played, but the rest of his body was clearly... onside. The ball came to him and he scored, but it his "offside arm" was blamed for the disallowed goal. Very poor decision-making.

Villa get all the VAR luck there is , and they are fortunate to still be playing in the Prem.
Last season, Sheffield Utd. clearly scored against Villa but there was no functioning technology (except for the millions like me who saw the whole thing on TV) and so the
goal was not acknowledged and game ended 0-0 . Villa got a point ...that eventually kept them in the Prem, (and then only on goal difference)...at the expense of Bournemouth who finished on the same points.

I'm still a keen advocate of VAR, but let's see some sensible decision-making for all.
9

StRipper added 12:11 - Jan 31
For those asking why we are getting so many injuries, it's because of more ridiculous Covid restrictions. The players aren't being allowed to use the state of the art recovery and treatment facilities at the Staple Wood because of the risks of cross infection. So, like many other bits of madness being justified based on Covid, so sadly it's the undoing of our season thru injury. Players are instead being told to use equipment and pools at home if they have them
-1

Farlow added 12:12 - Jan 31
I dont agree that moving JWP to right back was a success.The best football weve produced this year has been with Romeu and Ward Prouse in the middle.With Diallo and Romeu
Together there was not the same creativity.
1

WestSussexSaint added 12:17 - Jan 31
After ranting about VAR in the immediate aftermath of the match, I have slept on it and take a more objective view. As others have said VAR didn’t actually change a decision and is ultimately a tool to apply the current rules of the game. The current handball rule is becoming like the old joke about offside; no one understands it and there is no consistency in application.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Mason and Dean referee matches next weekend and give penalties for the same offence. Both are well past their best as referees and are making the job harder for those young good referees trying to break through due to their incompetence which undermines others.

In truth we lost this match because Villa took their one decent chance and Saints squandered theirs. Even if you credit the Villa keeper for some decent saves, we had so many half chances which need to turn into a higher proportion of good chances and ultimately goals.

I think a large proportion of the fault lies with Danny Ings (I know that won’t be a popular view). Since his injuries and the recent speculation about his contract his head doesn’t look like it is in the game. One good pass to Adams and the offside goal was it from him last night among a raft of poor touches and passes. I hope things get resolved soon which resets his form but on current form he is half the player he was in the summer.
10

FrankSaint added 12:19 - Jan 31
Like Ralph, I just started smiling in the end. The weirdness lifted the gloom even with the run of bad results and lack of goals. Re the 'penalty' whatever the some rules might say Ralph got it right. It was a great save. The body shape of the offending defender was that of a goalkeeper. He made himself big with his arms in the classic goalkeeping stance. The fact he moved his arm towards the ball just proves it. I think in the panic of the moment he thought her was playing rush goalkeeper. And in this circumstances it must be a penalty even if the ball touched his body or legs first. Otherwise we are encouraging outfield players to use their arms in this way which must be against the spirit of the rules. Where's these common sense?
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FrankSaint added 12:25 - Jan 31
Why doesn't Adam's shoot on sight when the ball I'd on his left foot. He fluffed a clear chance trying to shoot with his right last night and against Shrewsbury he missed that empty goal as well. It's embarrassing. Maybe it would be acceptable for an under 9 player or an amateur who had never has a proper coach. What do these pros do all day?
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FrankSaint added 12:26 - Jan 31
Why doesn't Adam's shoot on sight when the ball I'd on his left foot. He fluffed a clear chance trying to shoot with his right last night and against Shrewsbury he missed that empty goal as well. It's embarrassing. Maybe it would be acceptable for an under 9 player or an amateur who had never has a proper coach. What do these pros do all day?
-1

Hampshire_Al added 12:43 - Jan 31
For the penalty I would prefer VAR telling the ref to look at it again on the monitor. I think that will result in a better outcome and allow things to flow.
3

Colburn added 12:51 - Jan 31
VAR is merely the tool for corrupt people to engineer results. There was no excuse for not giving a penalty and a red card. He blatantly made himself big and moved his hand towards the ball. Good luck if you can see a deflection there. The rule is not contact, it is deflection.. Maybe Mike Dean needs a dictionary.
The most disturbing moment was the desperation of the linesclown to raise his flag before Ings out the ball in the net when the new way is to wait. There is no way in the world that he was sue it was off, this man is a cheat, plain and simple and the powers that be want the richest owned clubs to be at the top because it attracts more top level signings and thus quality and MONEY!!!
It became clear yesterday that officials and indeed pundits cherry pick aspects which support the decision and this can be done either way... The sport is finished as an even contest and the corruption is rife. If Blatter, the most corrupt man in the game says VAR is dodgy then......... Feel for Ralph and the boys, the positive was Jankewitz, Walcott was horrific and the reason for our lack of goals, greedy selfish, no end product when he is in place to assist, please don't bring him in in summer, he's deluded.
8

FrankSaint added 13:03 - Jan 31
Why doesn't Adam's shoot on sight when the ball I'd on his left foot. He fluffed a clear chance trying to shoot with his right last night and against Shrewsbury he missed that empty goal as well. It's embarrassing. Maybe it would be acceptable for an under 9 player or an amateur who had never has a proper coach. What do these pros do all day?
-1

ItchenNorth added 13:32 - Jan 31
VAR - what happens when a player is wearing a long sleeve shirt or has a base layer the same colour as the sleave or if the player has an armband, black or captains, hiding the end of the sleeves material ! Also, we see plenty of time given to drawing lines on the screen to determine if any part of a player was off side, yet it appears that VAR officials can, in a split second, establish the exact millisecond when the player passing the ball made contact with the ball for the critical pass ! Why don't we see these replays over and over again, because when we are talking an inch off side, exacting the moment the ball was kicked is critical to then freezing the frame for checking off side !!
The whole thing is flawed.
5

SaintPaulVW added 13:33 - Jan 31
In what fresh hell does the perpetrator of these heinous VAR acts get to ref our next game?

Jeez we are earning this sainthood

COYR

3

saintmark1976 added 13:38 - Jan 31
Poor team selection by Ralph cost us the game yesterday rather than doggy V A R decisions. He obviously played JWP at full back rather than drop Diallo for Romeu, thus making the midfield situation worse rather than better. In addition he chose to drop Adams to be able to let Walcott continue his frankly abysmal recent form.
2

dirk_doone added 13:40 - Jan 31
If you look closely, you can see that the ball was already a foot away from the player's boot in the picture they drew the VAR lines on. They should, in fact, have used the previous frame in which Ings was clearly onside. I guesss it's just up to the VAR ref, to say, stop the frame there.

Also there was no foul by Romeu on the goalkeeper. Lee Mason just decided there might have been.

The score should, in fact, have been 3-1.
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Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #29 by wessex_exile

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