Southampton At Everton The Verdict
Tuesday, 2nd Mar 2021 08:45
It was another bare to the bones side and another defeat, but this more than any of the previous defeats had something there, a fight, a spirit, an ability to not be overrun and therefore a hope that the end of the nightmare winless run is in sight.
The first shock of the night was that Fraser Forster was preferred in goal to Alex McCarthy, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl dressed it up as an opportunity to give Forster some practice before he comes in for the FA Cup game at Bournemouth, but with that still almost three weeks away and with another couple of game after this one to go, that excuse didn't seem to hold much water.
The truth is that when you are in a losing streak you have to try different things to break that run and with so many outfield players in injured this was just about the only option he had left.
This was going to be a game where Everton showed their top 4 credentials and there were some on social media ahead of the game predicting a landslide and to be truthful for around 15 minutes or so that looked like it was being the case.
Everton have a simple formula, it is about getting the ball up to the big two of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin and this they did in the 9th minute, the goalkeeper pumped the ball forward and we were a goal down.
We struggled to get to grips with the home sides direct game as they looked to pumped it forward and also win free kicks to put the ball into the box, they scored a second but VAR showed that it wasn't even a close call and it was chalked off.
But in that moment something changed, Saints seemed to get their confidence back, yes they weren't getting forward much at this stage, but they started to pass the ball and look comfortable in doing it.
We seemed to have realised that actually Everton weren't very good, we stopped being scared of them and took them on.
Everton were still a danger, but we were starting to deal with the aerial threat although at set pieces our marking was not all it should have been.
Just before the break we had a decent chance and Calvert-Lewin was forced into a diving header to block for a corner, the commentators claimed that our first shot on target was in the dying minutes, but if this wasn't a shot on target, blocked only yards from the line I don't know what was.
The second half saw Saints come out if not all guns blazing at least with confidence and we looked the better side, as the game went on we started to dominate possession and when Nathan Tella replaced Salisu just after the hour and we changed shape a little we looked the side most likely to get the second goal of the game.
That nearly came when Moussa Djenepo was put through but sadly he blazed wide from a good position.
There was a late finale as Saints got a succession of corners, from one they had a goalmouth scramble in which two shots were blocked close in before the ball fell to Jannik Vestergaard, he seemed to lose his footing and his shot was not as hard as it could have been and Pickford scrambled it away for a corner, this was claimed to be our only effort on target, but if that was the case, what were the two efforts blocked only seconds earlier.
Everton held on with Pickford flapping at several corners in the dying minute, but although this was another defeat it felt different from the previous ones, it felt like something was back in the side, a new found confidence and energy lacking in previous games.
This was still a defeat though, but after a run such as the one that we are having, it is not as easy as just clicking the fingers and everything is ok again, we had to draw a line in the sand and this could be it.
Not everything was perfect though, I have always been a supporter of Nathan Redmond, but this was his worst game in a Saints short in a long time, he was weak in the tackle, his passing was poor and he lost the ball too many times, he should have been off a lot earlier than he was.
What kept us going was the centre of midfield, James Ward Prowse did what he always does and Stuart Armstrong deputising for Oriol Romeu had a glorious game, strong in the tackle and with some surging runs.
Moussa Djenepo should also get a mention in despatches, he worked hard in getting up and down and did some good work at both ends of the pitch.
This result means nothing now, the line has been drawn, hopefully we will now have some of the injured players returning to the side, Ibrihama Diallo is expected to return soon as is Kyle Walker Peters, two key player in two key positions that will redress the balance of the side.
Also the return of Minamino to the squad will be a boost.
So it is not about the past now, it is about the future, and that starts at Bramall Lane on Saturday, Sheffield United are all but down now, it will be a few weeks before that is mathematically confirmed and they are still battling, but truth is they are not up to the task, we have to go up there and win well.
If we do that whispers of relegation will quickly go away, we only need two more wins to virtually guarantee safety, it would be nice if they could be achieved at the Blades and then at home to Brighton, then we could go into the FA Cup quarter final at Bournemouth with not only confidence but also the freedom to play without fear.
Photo: Action Images
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|LordDZLucan added 08:58 - Mar 2|
We seemed to watch different games, Nick. I thought we were pretty awful for the whole game bar the last 10 minutes when the back four had to push up and at last we had some cohesion between attack, midfield and defence. Now I know Ralph doesn't want the back four to push up too much because they're short on pace but when they play as deep as they do there are so many gaps for the opposition to exploit and the midfield can't get close enough to the strikers to support them. Yes, KWP and Diallo will help when they come back but apart from them that was pretty much our first choice eleven out there last night. I'm worried.
|A1079 added 09:09 - Mar 2|
LordLucan - quite. However it is dressed up it was another defeat, another game without a point, another game where we failed to score and rarely looked like scoring.
It felt marginally acceptable simply because we did not get thrashed. Little crumbs of comfort. But we offered little up front and whilst we had alot of the ball between the boxes (which Everton were happy with) until the last 10 minutes we did little meaningful with it.
Who would have thought that the Sheffield United game this forthcoming weekend could almost be a season defining moment. Lose that and the prospects will look really grim for the remainder of the season.
|SaintPaulVW added 09:27 - Mar 2|
I still have to pinch myself to believe that after topping the league the Sheffield Utd game is now virtually a 6 pointer.
Although it was another loss there were some signs that we are making some progress.
Ings and Adams looked better although still nothing to show for it. Tella and Djenepo looked really good. Armstrong did the usual direct running. Defence looked fairly solid and Salisu's premier League education continues.
We still look very short of confidence. Hopefully the returning players will also provide a further spark.
|FrankSaint added 09:38 - Mar 2|
Hmmm. To put it in perspective let's remember Everton are on the edge of the top 4 and they depend on playing a dirty game and long balls to two star outsize players upfront. This season of playing every three games is reducing every club to mediocrity after a spectacular start to the season. No coincidence that the only club that stands out is the only one that can afford two first teams. We were never as good or as bad as people make out. If any one of ings, redmond or Adams had been even close to inform we would have grabbed another 1-1 draw. And let's remember we are watching a circus rather than unadulterated sport.
|Sanguin added 09:39 - Mar 2|
We really need KWP back. Bednareck can't overlap so all of our attacks down the right hand side melted away until the final ten minutes when Djnepo switched in. I'm not criticising anyone, it made sense to keep Bednareck there until later in the game to ensure we didn't concede a second.
We also really need either Romeu or Diallo back. Armstrong can't play in defensive midfield. He's good surging forward, dribbling past players and picking out key passes in the final third. He looked a little lost trying to do that from defensive midfield.
I thought Djnepo had a good game, he worked hard going forward and had the best defensive game I've seen from him. I think he'll be a big player for us next season. Tella is growing as a player too.
I've always thought the critcism of Redmond over the last few years was unfair, but he seemed largely anonymous in this game and I can't remember him completing a dribble.
|FrankSaint added 09:39 - Mar 2|
Sorry, every 3 days without full medical support and in a bubble...
|halftimeorange added 09:53 - Mar 2|
Yes, lack of confidence was there for all to see. I think if we'd played all night we wouldn't have scored. It looked as though we would be thrashed in the first 15 minutes and we might well be when we face Man City. I did consider Salisu unlucky with the first 'foul' on him by Calvin-Lewis but, he does need to harden up in our league. I wasn't all that impressed with Bertrand either. He tends to stop our play by refusing to use his right foot to maintain forward movement. Nathan Redmond had a shocker and our overall threat perked up when Tella arrived for Salisu. Sheff U haven't recently been leaking goals and we'll have to score early on to get them to open up. That is why Tella should replace Redmond in the starting line-up.
|mattlegod added 09:59 - Mar 2|
If there is one thing that comes out of this game.. Tella should start ahead of Redmond.
We seemed to make things too intricate around the box, but to be fair Everton were defending on numbers.
Points at Sheffield are a MUST.
|davidargyll added 10:09 - Mar 2|
I’m probably alone in thinking that the Everton goal, whilst well executed by Richarlison, was really a mixture of bad luck for us - JWP jumping with Salisu (who distractedly got a knock) and coming down looking the wrong way followed by a lucky bounce for Sigurdsson to pass to the goal scorer. Ok so it started with a long ball, which you could argue found us out, again, but I think that was more a matter of bad luck than anything. And no, it shot like a rocket and AM would never have stopped it had he been in goal.
It’s the other end which is really worrying. No penetration, aimless kicks in hope rather than expectation, and no crosses to speak of (see below). Danny I’m afraid was toothless, Che a complete waste of space, and as for Redmond, he is just awful, in fact he looks to me that he is playing for a transfer to a Championship club because he knows he’s not up to PL standard. Armstrong though always does look exciting when he accelerates away from an opponent. And Yes everyone did put in much more of a shift in H2, Moussa especially, and importantly we didn’t ship any more goals - am I alone in thinking our survival just may depend on goal difference? - but we still lost.
However I do feel the last three games are showing that, bit by bit, we are getting a smidgin better, and Everton are an almost top 4 team so the fact we weren’t thrashed is a (sort of) positive.
The Blades though will be a potential banana skin because anything less than a point will be very bad news. I’m ever the optimist because they are not a good team, but they are desperate; so I predict whoever keeps the coolest head will win...
What really puzzles me - and may be a factor in us not scoring? - is why we rarely cross the ball from the wings. We look as if we are trying to do an Alf Ramsey 66 job with no wingers, just charging down the middle. But if you look at all the good - and less good - teams around at the moment they ALL use wingers, so why the hell don’t we?! Because when we do cross like SA’s excellent one which Danny stuck away a couple of weeks ago - we cause problems.
But it seems not in RH’s mindset to encourage it. God knows why but, because of the complete lack of penetration we are having at the moment, why not encourage the likes of Bertrand, Armstrong, Djneppo, Salisu, JWP to at least try crossing the ball into the middle? It certainly won’t result in less goals...
|JerryO added 10:16 - Mar 2|
I can see both sides of this argument. In truth Everton were not all that great and we still lost. Bednarek is not a right back and we need KWP ASAP - the lack of cover is a real concern. Redmond is a Jekyll and Hyde player who can provide a great through ball one minute and give it away the next. Tella looks a better proposition and needs to be given a run. Armstrong did well in the Romeu role though Diallo’s return will let him return to his usual, more attacking role. Ings looks a pale shadow of the player earlier in the season and seems to have lost his mojo. Djnepo seems to be improving and his work rate is better. We need to keep a sense of perspective. Yes it has been a rubbish 2021 but 2 or 3 wins in remaining games will see off relegation worries. The most important thing is that we strengthen the squad in the Summer to give RH more options. There is no way that we could have managed European qualification with the present squad being so thin. At full strength we are a force to be reckoned with, but it needs to be strength in depth.
|allsaint54 added 10:31 - Mar 2|
Unfortunately fight & spirit is not enough. We need creativity & that was woefully short. As soon as I saw Redmond starting you knew what you'd get, sweet FA & that's exactly what we got again. 50K for that performance is a joke. My dog would have been more effective & he'd play for a couple of bonios. How Ralph left him on for 87 mins is totally baffling. Please play anybody apart from Redmond. The experiment of JB at fullback is just not working, Give Ramsay anther chance.
It always felt as though Everton could move up a gear if they had to. On the positive side we only conceded 1 so goal difference not hit too much.
I'm afraid I can't see where the next win is coming from.
|stmichael added 10:33 - Mar 2|
I literally called this game after 20 minutes.. I thought if we were still 1-0 down after 70 minutes we would equalise and probably end up the more likely winners. We should have. 2 great chances in the final 20 minutes but we just could not take them.
Small steps but I agree the spirit was there against a team who will be 4th on Thursday!!
Agree re Redmond. I always support this fellah but yesterday he was abysmal.
he will surely be the victim of returning players at the weekend.
One final point Forster was a rock in goal.I would expect him to be our keeper for the rest of the season now...
|pwithers123 added 10:37 - Mar 2|
Considering the intense pressure that the team is under- they played exceptionally well. We were the better team in the 2nd half + the team spirit was awesome. These guys are really up for it.
- Djneppo is really getting into the way of playing + really adding something to his game. Also great character and determination. Never gives up. Impressive learning from a young player who was very raw when he came to Saints.
- Tella - Another young player starting to make real progress. Very calm on the ball. Mostly kept possession under great pressure despite physically being smaller. Impressive Learning again.
- Salisu - Stepping up in every game. Very calm. Not quite yet at the pace and timing needed but you can see the class.
So three players who are being put into the Furnace that is premier league game at present - and are improving and are not collapsing under pressure. Credit to them and to Hassenhutl.
Redmond - Still not back to his best is he. Physical issue or mental ??? No idea. But he is a player who takes the ball very close to the opposition when he dribbles- and at the moment his is very slightly off the boil for some reason. Sure he knows it - must be hard when you are not quite where you want to be - and have been there. He did set up recent goal however - so we should support him...confidence helps players through bad patches
All the other players were awesome - The pace is incredible and the pressure from the opposition is intense
Tough place to be - Premier League at the moment -
|SanMarco added 11:02 - Mar 2|
We certainly are at the crisis of the season. Nick admirably talks up signs of hope but the reality is that Everton were in second gear and seemed happy with 1-0. Would a late grabbed equaliser have been down to our recovery or carelessness on Everton's part? The Sheffield match is vital now - if we lose then, following the inevitable at Man C we will have 1 point from 11 games. Sheffied isn't really a '6 pointer' because they are doomed but I think it is a '3 pointer' for us!
As to specifics of the game - Everton are big, strong and dirty. Of course Calvert-Lewin's quite intention roughing-up of Salisu was 'accidental' as was his his assault on Djenepo. It does show-up how light-weight we are now. Chelsea got away with a couple of reds and it was obscene that we got the only yellows last night but Sheffield will bully us. Keep your arm straight when jumping and it is 'accidental' nowadays and the likes of Salisu need to get used to that.
I hate to say it but Redmond was absolutely appalling and must be dropped. The RB fiasco (I have never seen a perfectly decent player look so uncomfortable as Bednerak does there) continues to kill us. Ralph said he had cover when he sent Valery on his travels - Bednerak aint it. I would play Djenepo there until KWP back (if Calvert-Lewin hasn't crippled him of course.)
Finally - lots of comments on Adams and Ings, Yes, both are off-form but Romeu's absence isolates them and they have to come too deep or simply watch the play. Adams likes scoring against his old team so perhaps Saturday will give him a much needed goal.
I am already nervous about Saturday - four long days to worry about further injuries!!!
|paulgod added 11:05 - Mar 2|
Whilst the determination and hard work is there the key reason we are not scoring is because we are too slow on the ball especially from the back most of the time. Also the midfielders are playing too close to the back four so aren't there to support the forwards hence Ings keeps coming back to the middle to collect the ball and then there is no-one in front to pass it too. Whilst Adams works hard he seems a little naive and runs around like a headless chicken. I thought Armstrong was excellent and Redmond was awful. Also whilst Moussa works hard what has happened to his runs that he used to do, he seems to lose the ball on the first tackle. I cringe everytime the opposition get a free kick close to our goal as we play such a high line and rely on an offside decision. Everton worked that out and we were nearly caught out. Whilst I don't think we will be relegated we do need to strengthen our squad for next year as I can see Ings leaving at the end of the season. On the plus side we have some good up and coming players; Salisu, Diallo and Tella who will improve over time. COYR.
|saintmark1976 added 11:29 - Mar 2|
We’ve all become so shell shocked recently that we are now attempting to talk up another defeat against an Everton side who never got out of first gear as some sort of moral victory.
However Nick wants to continually spin it, one point from the last twenty seven is form which if allowed to continue will result in our relegation.
I trust that behind the scenes the owners and board have made approaches to possible replacements for Ralph.If we don’t win against Sheffield Utd then I’m sorry, but he has to go immediately.
Our current situation reminds me of that of Notts Forest many seasons back when all the pundits said that they were too good to go down.They got relegated and have not been back to the top flight since.
|TimSaint added 11:39 - Mar 2|
Lets face it, for most of the game we were woeful. Our passing game was amiss, we couldn't control the ball, we frequently gave it away cheaply, often turned into trouble, had too many out of position, gave away silly free kicks and from them, defended like statues.
Yes we had a bit of possession and passed it around our box - half way line area, but that just played into Everton's hands, as the were already winning. As with most games of late when we have been behind, we just don't seem to have any urgency, or a will to drive forward and actually get into the opponent's box and try to set up a chance for our forwards. Instead we are content to get forward then pass it all the way back.
Regardless of whether JWP free kick was a cross or a shot, it does not detract from the fact that we created little. We upped it a bit once we switched Bed to CB and brought on Tella, but we failed to test their keeper, apart from a solitary Vest effort at the end where he should have stood up to kick it, rather than slide and slot it.
Everton won a canter apart from the last 10 mins. They even rested players because they have bigger games coming up soon.
Salisu needs to toughen up.
FF - attackers were scared of him and he did pretty well.
Arms - not a CM but again did well
Djenepo - don't think he knows what he is doing half the time and his attacking duties were thwarted by Bed needing permanent cover at RB.
Can't believe the ref bought all the DCL and Richarlison dives and as for Digne, he should have (again) seen red for that horror tackle on Djenepo.
I suppose it was not the worst defeat and hopefully we will have the likes of KWP and Diallo available for the Sheff Utd game, because we need more balance and shape to our side.
|Farlow added 12:52 - Mar 2|
Im sure Bednarek against Calvert Lewin would have been a better mach up as Salisu could not handle him.Ramsay must start at RB.Every time Bednarek had space out wide he passed it backwards.Incurring more pressure.We were worth a point though.
|1ASIN12 added 12:59 - Mar 2|
Another report or article where you once again have a dig at the fans. When are you going to give fans credit? I would stop reading social media if I were you as you seem to get wound up by it.
We all see games differently but i thought we poor until the last 10 or 15 mins where we finally had a bit of urgency to our play. Up until then we were very pedestrian as we gave been for a few games now.
We are missing key players so with them returning as well as a run of winnable games we should pick up enough points to stay up and also get to another cup semi final.
|IanRC added 13:18 - Mar 2|
I have always been a big supporter of Ralph but even I am seriously starting to question his common sense. Jan Bednarak is arguably already an exceptional centre back but he is no right back. After the disaster at Leeds was there anyone other than Ralph who thought that Kayne Ramsay should not have been given a chance last night. I agree that Armstrong had another very good game but the problem with playing him so deep is that most of our creativity goes out of the window, badly need Diallo back and fit. I am very loath to criticise our players but to be kind Nathan Redmond needs a rest to sort himself out, he was again woeful last night and Tella's introduction was way too late.
Thought the referee was awful last night (again), shouldn't play have been stopped ahead of their goal to check that Salisu did not have a serious head injury. All Everton had to do to win a free kick was to throw themselves to the ground for him to blow his whistle. Serious foul play, like Calvin Lewin stomping on Moussa Djenepo's ankle was however ignored. Djenepo must be fed up of seeing the likes of Kante, Werner and KL getting away with possibly career threatening challenges without punishment whilst our players only need to look at a member of the opposition to pick up a yellow card.
I am also starting to question Danny Ings commitment. Yes he trys on the pitch (although arguably last night he should have stepped aside for Djenepo to shoot) and doesnt have great service but a huge psychological boost would come from him signing a new contract but he has so far failed to do so. Given that we took a huge risk when we rescued him when his career was stalling at Liverpool I would have thought it was the least he could do. I am of course greatful for his efforts earlier in the season that could be responsible for keeping us up but I am afraid something mopre is needed.
So on to Sheffield United where we really do need to get back on track by scoring some goals.
|I_would added 13:18 - Mar 2|
We lost in style, great. Perhaps we'll be relegated with style. Can't Ralph just drop Redmond and Adams and win a game?
|JoeEgg added 13:19 - Mar 2|
Finding it hard to believe that I was watching the same game as Nick. The preview for the Everton and Leeds games suggested that there was every chance of turning this horrendous form around. Our team just cannot put the ball in the back of the net - isn't that the main object of this game? We had a very strong line up at Everton but still go on about the injuries. Even the referee and VAR were difficult to use as excuses this time. Maybe there's just a chance some kind of reality will sink in following a defeat at Sheffield Utd and another 9-0 at Manchester City!
|saintTom added 13:43 - Mar 2|
To put it into perspective we were two players short of our starting 11.
Why oh why doesn’t Ralph change things. Doing tactical analysis on us before a game must be so easy for the opposition. We would rather play square pegs in round holes than change things. And more so, what we are doing is not working! 1 win in 14. 1 point from 10. 1 second half goal in 10!
We went on a bad run last year but covid stopped football and we came back stronger. Our high press works well but when we get tired it doesn’t. It’s like our season replicates how we play in games; strong start and then fizzles out.
|KilkennySaint added 14:32 - Mar 2|
Disappointing result but i think we are slowly making progress. Some good performances in Armstrong & Dejenpo. Bednarek is a decent defender but RB isn't working out for him, thought the defence was ok but defending as a team from free kicks was awful, we really could have got punished. I don't like to single out players but Redmond was just terrible, when we are struggling like this we cant have players who contribute so little, was hoping Tella would have started since he looked good when we came on.
This may be an unpopular choice but do we keep the like of Hodet, Lemina, Elyounoussi, Long when they come back from loan, at least for squad depth ? With the lack of youngsters coming through and if we don't have the funds to invest in the summer it may be worth considering, i would rather get these guys off the books and move on but we are so weak after our first 15-17 it may be worth considering.
I don't think we will get relegated, there is a few wins/draws still left in us this season, my concern is the summer and probably lack of investment to strengthen the squad for next season.
|teamster1 added 15:22 - Mar 2|
I have been saying for ages that Redmond has become a liability. He has not improved one bit since he joined us and part of that is his attitude. He thinks he is better than he is I’m afraid. Remember a few seasons back when Pep Guardiola was seen having a heated conversation with him at the end of a game. Think he was probably telling him he is wasting what talent he has. He has not improved because he thinks he is the finished article but I’m afraid he doesn’t run at people with the pace he has, his control of the ball is abysmal and his decision making is the same. If you don’t want to improve you will dish out the same stuff and that is his problem.
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!