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Southampton V Leeds United The Verdict
Sunday, 17th Oct 2021 10:08

It's been a long time coming, but finally Saints achieved their first win of the season and in doing so made it a solid start after 8 games and with foundations to build on, now we can hopefully start to move up the table.

Leeds United were missing several key players for their visit to St Mary's, but then again so where Saints who were missing not only James Ward Prowse from the starting line up in the Premier League for the first time in almost 3 years but Che Adams & Jack Stephens.

The old adage is that you can only play what is in front of you and that is what Saints had to do, Ralph Hasenhuttl had said ahead of the game that this would not be a "Five Course Dinner" and he was right, but what it was was a resolute performance where every man played with spirit, enthusiasm and purpose and showed that the squad are firmly behind the manager.

But there were a few eyebrows raised when the starting line up was announced and it was a surprise to see Adam Armstrong to be left on the bench with Armado Broja played both as a loan striker and a lone striker and Nathan Redmond seemingly given a free role.

Leeds surprisingly had slightly more of the possession at 55%, but they made nothing of it and they had only three attempts at goal, none on target and only Dan James effort meaningful, although it went well wide.

Saints started slowly and seemed to have a game plan to get a grip of the game and build up momentum, this they did and they really could have taken the lead in the first half, but couldn't quite find the net.

But we didn't have to wait long in the second half to break the deadlock, Nathan Redmond being put through and he did everything right, drawing the keeper out but then showing great awareness to lay the ball across for Armando Broja to fire into an empty net.

From then on Saints were completely in control of the game, they resisted temptation to pour forward and play into Leeds hands, but kept their concentration and although it was disappointing that they didn't add to the score, it was also pleasing to see that we kept our shape and aside from that one chance gave Leeds nothing.

This was very much a team performance, no one in the Saints side had a bad game, we were driven by the hard work in the centre of midfield were Oriol Romeu and Ibrahima Diallo battled to break up any Leeds attacks and bossed the middle of the park, the full backs were both solid with Tino Livramento once again surged forward down the wing in a swashbuckling style.

Up front Armando Broja in his first Premier League start battled gamely and put himself about and deserved his goal, but I don't think that scoring the goal merited a man of the match performance.

For me there were two candidates for man of the match and i don't think that you can split either.

At the back Mohammed Salisu was outstanding, he put in a performance that was reminiscent of Virgil Van Dijk, he held the line, he read the game perfectly, he blocked he tackled and he also carried the ball forward when the chance arose, he will get better as he gains experience.

The other candidate will stick in the throat of many, but Nathan Redmond ran the game going forward, most of our attacks had him at the heart, Broja got the plaudits for scoring the goal, but the real hero of the hour was Redmond who for the goal took the ball and ran at the Leeds defence, he drew the defenders and it must have been tempting for him to have a shot, but he showed great vision and awareness by laying the ball across for Broja who had the goal gaping and couldn't miss.

Literally every attack had Redmond at the heart of it..

I suspect that a few won't be able to have it in themselves to give Redmond the full credit for this performance and their have been times that they have had a point, but he deserves the credit for this one.

Indeed this season he has been the player who has had the end product as was shown at Newcastle and should have been at Manchester City when he put Adam Armstrong straight through on goal.

The real plus points from this game where that the players who we perhaps didn't expect to shine did as in Redmond, Salisu and Ibrahima Diallo who worked tirelessly.

Some uncharitably said in the pub that Leeds were awful, but much of that was how Saints set up and didn't allow them to get their normal game going, as I said they were missing players but so where we.

But perhaps the best comment after summed up why some of those predicting doom and gloom for Saints should give Ralph Hasenhuttl and the team a chance, " Leeds were worse than any performance we have put in this season"

He was right, despite the fact that we have lost games, we have not played badly in them and had a spirit that Leeds lacked and that has to bode well.

Back in the summer I looked at the first 8 fixtures and suggested that if we got 5 or 6 points from those games it would be a good return, especially when you consider that in the same corresponding 8 games last season we only got 2 points and now from the same fixtures we have earned 7.

This is a good foundation to build on and we hopefully now have some confidence that we can kick on and get some more wins on the board, this win will mean nothing unless we pick up points in our next two games.

But for now we should enjoy the victory, we should not get too carried away, but it showed we are not as bad as some will have you believe..

Photo: Action Images

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landsdownsaint added 10:27 - Oct 17
I thought Djenepo was great yesterday he never hides even when things aren’t going so well

JoeEgg added 10:33 - Oct 17
Yes a victory at last against a disappointing Leeds side who really missed their key players more than we did. For my money it was ridiculous to leave Adam Armstrong out from the starting line-up. With Redmond supplying the crosses this would have been a great opportunity to restore some confidence and score some goals! Ralph was over cautious and once again , Broja, apart, it was difficult to see where the goals were going to come from. Why doesn't Ralph play Walker-Peters and move Livramento forward. Here was another great chance with JWP missing to give this a try. Yet another trick missed by Ralph.
I have repeatedly commented on how promising this squad of our looks. It is my opinion that we won this game DESPITE Ralph and not because of Ralph. I'm sorry but despite a long overdue victory I am more convinced than ever that he is not the right man for the job.

SalisburySaint added 10:33 - Oct 17
Great summary Nick, although thought we were better in the first half than you give us credit for

And totally agree regards Redmond, who not only yesterday, but at Newcastle, Man City and Chelsea put in good performances, not that his critics would give him credit

WestSussexSaint added 10:40 - Oct 17
Nick a fair assessment of the match. You say that both sides had key players absent which was true but it was clear that Leeds missed their key players far more than Saints did. In fact I would say that the replacements for Saints actually improved the balance of the side.

Broja gave the team a physical presence upfront which Armstrong doesn’t as that is not his game. It reminded me of a young Pelle.

Diallo was everywhere on the pitch and linked up the defence and attack really well and crucially injected a bit of pace which didn’t let Leeds settle.

On the rest I agree Salisu was immense for 99% of the match but his one error when dithering on a ball over the top nearly cost an undeserved equaliser. Although some blame could be attached to McCarthy for lack of clear communication (not the first time!).

Having a left footed left back also made a difference and Peraud probably had his best game to date.

For me the Motm was Redmond. He was at the heart of everything going forwards and had a calm thought to square the ball for the goal. Compare this with Broja who failed to return the favour about 15 mins later showing the experience of Redmond and the lack of it for Broja. I just hope this is something of a run now for Redmond and not the one good game for the next couple of months.

On the whole a solid performance which hopefully will give the team confidence for the rest of this mini run of crucial fixtures. I commented previously that Saints needed 10 points from these 5 games and I think that 3 of them are in the bag from yesterday is a good start.

Block8 added 10:48 - Oct 17
Hey Salisbury Saint didn't miss any substitutions today just the start as for the third time my season ticket didn't work!
Very good performance from everyone and proves, as I have said many times on here, that there is a player inside Redmond it's just finding how to release it. He was excellent today.
Diallo and Romeu seemed to have a good balance as Diallo is more comfortable pushing on than perhaps JWP is? Salisu was masterful in defence and you have to wonder why Ralph would consider KWP at left back when Perraud looks so at ease there?
I do think that Leeds were poor, how much that was down to us playing so well is difficult to know. The only negative today was that there were not more goals from the amount of efforts but 3 points are very welcome.

davidargyll added 10:55 - Oct 17
More than anything else, yesterday we saw a real determination to fight, to retain and win the ball back in a tackle. There were numerous occasions where sheer guts enabled a whole host of our players to keep the midfield and front pair going forward. So yes, with a better attacking opposition we may well have been undone more than on the one occasion when Salisu cocked it up, but the thrill I used to get from watching the Saints had well and truly returned by 4.45 yesterday afternoon.
I said last week that the leap required for top-scoring ex-championship forwards (eg Adam Armstrong) to make (to be prolific in the PL) was well and truly illustrated by Broja’s clinical goal, which he took like an experienced top flight player. Would AA or Che have managed to do the same? We will never know of course but something tells me those two may well find themselves on the subs bench and/or only starting in cup games from now on.
Meanwhile all the defence played well, kept the ball well, kicked it out instead of trying to be too clever and on several occasions (including the goal) with a couple of great moves turned defence into really quick attack. They really do seem to be getting better and more solid by the game. Perhaps JWP being sidelined gave them that extra kick knowing that, with him and JS out for not too long, two of them may not be first choice forever. Although on yesterday’s performance they all deserve to be.
And as for this continuing criticism for RH’s head, for goodness sake put a sock in it. I for one am heartily sick of all that on going nonsense, and I cannot believe I am alone. He is not going anywhere and no amount of saying he’s no good is going to change the Board’s mind.

PS I noticed a lot of the seats around me near the tunnel have had red crosses put on them where the numbers used to be. Anyone know what this is about? There is a rumour that the club is taking back ex season ticket seats for their own guests but can anyone confirm this?

claus5 added 11:03 - Oct 17
Couldn't go yesterday due to ill health, but it sounded very encouraging and ended in a great result. Hope i don't meet Joe Egg in the pub after a defeat, did he watch a different game to everyone else?!?!

HythePeer added 11:41 - Oct 17
The difference was the missing star players, Theirs made their team worse while ours made the team better! I hope the manager apologizes about his mid week remarks about Broja, not exactly team building and encouraging, but no doubt he'll go back to his loosing ways once his favs are back.
It was great to see proper attacking football again instead of sideways passing and headless chickens. Two more games to go.

theralpholution added 12:41 - Oct 17
A good result and a good performance by Redmond. I think we all know what he is capable of but the issue is that he doesn’t show it regularly enough. If we are to rely on his brilliant ‘end product’ which is praised here, we would be relegated as he has scored 1 Premier League goal in a calendar year. This article praises his ‘great vision and awareness’ when in truth this was shown by Djenepo who put him clean through and he had to run forward and play a simple square pass but, fair play, he did it. I’ve never had an issue with his talents but sadly his deficiencies often outweigh these. His shooting is abysmal, he doesn’t tackle back and when he tries to he is too weak, he’s obviously no use for headers so if he’s going to stay in the team he should be scoring and assisting regularly. Still at least we can finally hear the last of the need for an experienced defender because Salisu is awesome and provides the pace that we were missing in the centre of defence.

wibbersda added 12:55 - Oct 17
WestSussex you nailed it. Agree with every observation. I would also add we would now be a better side with Diallo in forJWP, but obviously Ralph will never do it.

hmmm added 13:03 - Oct 17
Oh the irony of Nick criticising people who he claims won't give credit to players they don't like when they have a good game

SaintPaulVW added 13:11 - Oct 17
Like Bertrand before him you can see why JWP doesn't get picked for England that much. Bertrand wasn't a leader and JWP although highly energetic and great at Dead balls just doesn't do any more than instantly pass the ball back to the player that passes to him. Diallo now looks stronger and more used to the speed of premiership football. Just like PEH used to be preferred to Romeu, I think JWP's lack of creativity in attack may mean in future he starts fewer games where we need to get on the front foot.

One advantage that we have this season over last is that we have options and can change formation to strengthen the team during a match with different players' abilities.

I thought Salisu was brilliant but was also lucky that his mistake against James didn't give away a goal.

Redmond was class. Perhaps a roving role suits him better.

I'm surprised we only had 55% of possession, it felt a lot more.

Djenepo and Eli really covered some ground yesterday.

Hopefully the win will relax the squad a bit.


teamster1 added 13:21 - Oct 17
I have been critical of Redmond for a long time. Credit where it is due he played very well yesterday. The difference yesterday was that he made correct decisions when on the ball. Trouble is he should be doing this all the time!! He has been at the club 5 years and in my opinion under performed. Either he is a slow learner or he thinks he is better than he actually is!! Watching yesterday he concentrated on his football and was encouraging to his team mates when in the past he sulks and berates his team mates when things are not going right for him. For me this is a pivotal season at the club for him and I hope he is maturing and starting to learn finally!! I wait to be convinced.

halftimeorange added 14:07 - Oct 17
I was frankly surprised at Diallo's drive in a more forward position. He looked really comfortable pushing up in a way that JWP never does. I can only reiterate what others have said in respect of Salisu. Man of the match by a country mile and such a shame he marred an otherwise dominant performance with one misjudgment. If Redmond showed yesterday's passion regularly instead of bottling tackles and moaning he would have more fans on his side. Perraud showed the benefit of playing a round peg in a round hole. On the subject of Che Adams, he did turn in a really solid performance for Scotland in midweek, creating many chances for others. Don't write him off just yet.

saintsfanbrock added 15:10 - Oct 17
Good match, enjoyed it thoroughly. Although did anyone else notice Ralph disappeared straight down the tunnel? Seems unlike him, used to him celebrating with the players and fans after a win.

highfield49 added 15:30 - Oct 17
I'm not convinced that Broja had an empty net to fire into Nick, my view was that the finish was excellent and clinical. Exactly the sharpness in front of goal that Armstrong and Adams haven't managed very often. I shouldn't really let it bother me but the various media outlets invariably suck up to the Leeds injury woes whilst we apparently always field a team without any absentees. Hopefully they'll be on the receiving end of a 9-0 disaster, when they can't even fill the bench with fit players, and have a village idiot waving red cards around.

underweststand added 15:59 - Oct 17
The Redmond Critics Club were probably looking the other way with Nathan turning in his best showing for quite a while. He filled the absence of JWP with constructive play, good corners and had hard luck with his free kick. The assist for Broja's goal showed skill and maturity from a player who would have gone for glory and blazed over the bar last season. Thankfully one goal was enough, but with a match stat. of 19 shots, showed that "the others " really should have converted a couple more .

Everyone DAJFU, but surely Salisu was MoM (despite Broja's praiseworthy goal).
He improves in every game, and despite his one error (everyone needs luck sometime) I thought he was outstanding at the back, and was not afraid to go forward on occasions.

A big sigh of relief for the 3 points, but we must be sure to get another 3 next weekend to stabilise a mid-table spot before the next batch of " tough fixtures " comes along.


UgandaSaint added 19:37 - Oct 17
I am and have been throughout a Ralph supporter, I don't always agree with his team selections or tactics, but every manager we have had since Ted Bates has had his favourites which us fans can't figure out. This season our best centre back pairing was forced on Ralph when Stephens was injured. Our best midfield pairing was forced on Ralph by JWP getting himself suspended. Our best centre forward was playing thanks to Adams injury. I think Ralph's luck has changed for the better.

KriSaint added 20:04 - Oct 17
Match done and dusted. Full marks to everybody. However this win will get us nowhere if we don't beat Burnley.
How the hell are we going to beat Burnley, who, more or less, play with 11 men behind the ball, play destructive football and do criminal time wasting on every dead ball?

The answer must be:
By moving the ball as quickly as possible, defend well - especially on set pieces against us - be patient, and get the right starting 11 players picked.

I hope Ché and Stuart will be well and fit to be involved vs Burnley from the start. We will need Chés physicality AND Stuarts intelligence and tricks i.m.o., so these two HAVE TO get in the team vs Burnley. I hope Ralph agrees.

Luckily the League Cup tie vs Chelsea is AFTER the Burnley game, so we have a full 4 days to prepare for Burnley after the players have had their deserved 2 days off (today and tomorrow).

COYS! <3

ItchenNorth added 20:41 - Oct 17
Redmond was (almost) a revelation given a free role behind Broja. He was literally everywhere and had his best game for Saints for some time. Broja is also the way to go. He is big but mobile and clear is a finisher as well. Maybe it's now Broja leading the line, with take your pick from either Redmond or Adams or A Armstrong in behind.
I also think our back four looks much stronger this season with the additions of both Livramento and Perraud. And Salisu may just be developing into that dominant centre back that we've been crying out for since VVD left.
There were some good performances out there, and Romeu and Diallo pretty much locked down the midfield all game.
My only niggle was our end of game management. For me, inside the last 10 minutes (certainly in the last 5), we should not be pressing for a second goal. Against a better team than Leeds, we could get caught. There is nothing wrong with seeing a game out, going back to McCarthy or the corners and working the ball without driving forward.
Good game though and a really good team performance.

DellBoyWally added 20:51 - Oct 17
JoeEgg loves Eddie Howe true kiss kiss

ExiledSupporter added 22:44 - Oct 17
Is it possible that Redmond has been consistently disappointing for some time because we have not been playing him in the best position for his talents?

For a long time I have felt that we have missed an effective No10, a player to play in the hole behind preferably a strong tall striker (perhaps Brojan, like Pele) and a fast runner in the channels (perhaps A Armstrong) Could it be that Redmond isolated on the right or left of midfield for long periods in the past has found his niche with a freer role in the centre working between the lines.

In the past I have thought Stuart Armstrong could do this job for us (and score goals),sometimes that JWP might fit the role (though not much recently) and now perhaps Redmond.

OK too early to say with much confidence, but well worth an extended trial there; he certainly seems to have found a knack of increasing his assist tally in recent weeks

Go on Ralf, give him a chance and give him a freer role in the opposition's half of the pitch


aceofthebase added 09:16 - Oct 18
I'm amazed that Nick hasn't called Salisu a championship player after his one lack of concentration that nearly cost us a couple of points. Come on Nick please be consistent.

For the rest of us Salisu was brilliant as were every player in our team. RH deserves credit for his enforced changed team, tho I was hoping to see Tella come on instead of Walcott.

KilkennySaint added 14:07 - Oct 18
Very good performance, every player put in a shift to get our first win of the season, added bonuses were a clean sheet, the return of Stuart Armstrong, not giving points to a bottom half team.

Yes, i have been critical of Redmond in the past but I'm only too happy to see him putting in a great performance like that, the frustration with him over the years is we know he can do it, but the lack of consistency makes us a little impatient, hopefully he can build on this.

Apart from the Wolves defeat i think it’s been a decent start to the season, with some winnable fixtures coming up hopefully we can start to climb up the table.


KriSaint added 18:40 - Oct 18
Garth Crook (misspelling intended) had no room for man mountain Salisu in his team of the week. Söyuncy got in the team because of his tap in goal vs Man.U. I will quit taking notice of Garth Crook' s team of the week. Again.

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