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Southampton At Swansea City The Verdict
Sunday, 9th Jan 2022 09:31

Saints got their FA Cup campaign underway in Wales as they did their League Cup campaign, but they found this tie a lot harder than 5 months ago in Newport, but they dug in and found resilience and moved into the 4th round.

Ralph Hasenhuttl had to make changes due to injury and Covid, but he still put out a strong side, arguably the strongest line up he could have selected and it turned out he needed to after the sending off of Yan Valery on the half hour mark.

The game started well for Swansea and they had a lot of the ball, but you sensed that Saints were biding their time and waiting for the moment to press them, this proved to be the case in the 8th minute when Saints got the ball from the Swans and went forward quickly Nathan Redmond being played through and he finished with aplomb.

For the next 22 minutes Saints were in command and you felt that this was going to be a smooth passage through to the 4th round, but that proved not to be the case in the 30th minute, ex Saint Michael Obafemi went past Yan Valery and knowing that he had overran the ball went to ground, it was the faintest touch from the Saints man and in my opinion not a foul, but the referee didn't see it that way and flashed a yellow card, the problem was this was Valery's second of the game and off he went.

Now the game had changed, but Saints revamped, put James Ward Prowse to right back and although Swansea had a lot of the ball, they had little chance to do much with it, long range efforts in the main that flew high and wide.

Fresh legs were introduced just after the hour and as the last 10 minutes approached you felt that Saints would see it out, indeed they came nearer than Swansea to scoring when a JWP free kick found Jack Stephens unmarked at the far post, but he put his header wide.

That should have sealed the tie, but in the 77th minute Swansea equalised and we looked in for a torrid last 10 minutes or so, that didn't materialise although Swansea could have won it in the last minute with Fraser Forster making a decent save.

So to extra time and 4 minutes in Swansea went ahead when Jan Bednarek put the ball in his own net, at this moment it looked like Saints would be making a 3rd round exit.

But straight from the kick off the ball was played forward and then crossed into the box where Mohammed Elyounoussi was unmarked, he took a touch to set himself and then fired home.

This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Swansea and give Saints the impetus, in the 12th minute of the first half of extra time James Ward Prowse foraging forward crossed for Shane Long to fire home what turned out to be the winner from close range.

You felt that this was now Saints day and this proved to be the case.

The match stats were obviously not great reading, but this was a game where Saints showed their character and won through in a game they would have lost a year ago.

The key now is that we have more depth in the squad, Shane Long has come in for some criticism from supporters who ask why he is still at the club, they got their answer in the home match against Spurs and they got it again at Swansea with a battling 42 minutes from the Irishman that was rewarded with his extra time winner.

A year ago we would have played the likes of Dan N'Lundulu when we were stretched through injury, yes we are paying Shane Long a decent wage, but he has proved his worth in recent weeks.

The real issue of the day though was the sending off of Yan Valery, as I mentioned I feel that Obafemi went to ground too easily and it wasn't a foul, but it means that Valery will be suspended for the Brentford game on Tuesday and we suddenly go from having 3 right backs in Tino Livramento, Kyle Walker Peters and Valery himself, to having none available on Tuesday night, James Ward Prowse is a quality stand in so that is not a problem, but we will miss him in midfield.

Slowly but surely we are building momentum, this was our 4th unbeaten game in a row, indeed we have only been beaten once in the last 7, however we need to start converting draws into wins, as we have also only won once.

But the main thing at Swansea was going through to the 4th round and that we managed, it was perhaps not in the fashion that we would have hoped for, but it was just as pleasing than if we had won 4-0 as we showed character, we showed we have a squad that can cope with an injury/covid crisis, something we couldn't do last year.

With new owners in place, hopefully this can be the beginning of a new era.

Photo: Action Images

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davidargyll added 10:07 - Jan 9
Did anybody else think Swansea’s performance reminded them of the Saints a couple of years back? ie keeping a lot of possession but passing the ball backwards or sideways and losing any momentum they may have had? Made for rather an interesting comparison with us then and now, it ultimately did show the gulf between the top two tiers of English football as a result of which we were deserving winners.

And seeing Valery follow Salisu against Spurs for an early bath, there was a similarity there too, not only in the timing but the manner. Yes they were hyped up for a big game but it does make me wonder if there is something the boys are being taught in training which encourages, from the off, hard graft and tight marking over common sense. (And there were similar circumstances in which Jankewitz got his straight red last season).

We all know how rubbish our defence used to be but now we’ve tightened up, inevitably that now carries a risk, especially with young players, if an attacker beats our man for pace. Which was exactly what happened against Obafemi yesterday and Son last week, following too much initial enthusiasm earning our boys early yellows. They will learn, and will be better for the ignominy of it all; that said, in both cases it was pleasing to see that they had the maturity to walk off without petulance and the usual temper tantrum you’d have witnessed from the likes of a Man U player.


WestSussexSaint added 10:37 - Jan 9
Positives - thought the substitutions really made a positive difference coming on. Diallo and Long in particular gave a bit more presence and drive going forwards. JWP has played RB before but still did a decent job to keep Obafemi quiet.

Negatives- Valery should have learned from the mistake Salisu made the previous week from being over enthusiastic with the challenges and an early booking. His fellow defenders should have also had a word with him. Once down to 10 I thought we were a little too defensive to try and hold the one goal lead. We proved in extra time we had enough threat going forwards to continue to prove a danger to a poor Swansea defence and it would have made the first 90 easier.

Overall we are in the next round which is al that matters.

Sadoldgit added 10:58 - Jan 9
Lots of debate about whether it was a foul or not but Valery should not have given the ref a decision to make in the first place. It looked to me a blatant foul and a yellow in real time. The replay showed that perhaps he went down too easily (although they may have been a clip apart from the hand) but with no VAR to review Valery’s rashness cost us dear. Just like Salisu, once he got an early yellow I could see him ending up with a red. As it turned out it didn’t effect the final result, but with Brentford on Tuesday we could have done without extra time. Sounded a bit harsh about Bednarek putting the ball into his own net. It came in at pace and there wasn’t much he could do about it. We had some excellent chances to make it 2 before they equalised which would have won the game in normal time. For a CB Stephens is poor in the air. How he put that far post header wide only he will know. Excellent performance from the captain who is back to his best and a shout out for Diallo who looked good when he came on. Romeu is not looking his usual solid self so perhaps a change there coming soon? Finally a big pay on the back to Shane Long who came off the bench and changed the game.

IanRC added 11:19 - Jan 9
Referee was poor regarding Valery, even first yellow was soft a talking to was more appropriate given the lack of intent and how early it was. Compounded by the second and some of the similar fouls from Swansea he let go. Agree with Nick that JWP is a more than adequate full back and presumably Perraud will start too on Tuesday. As Nick says though we will pay a price in midfield.

A great squad performance overall, difficult to find too much fault anywhere. Shout outs in particular for
Redmond - a different player now, works hard defensively and took his goal well
Long - a game changing performance to hopefully silence the naysayers
Tella - still a bit lightweight but learning fast
Foster - I wish his package was not so high as presumably that is the reason for us not extending his contract
JWP - Mr Reliable

Thought Stuart Armstrong looked short of match fitness and really hope Adam Armstrong scores soon to increase his confidence.


halftimeorange added 11:43 - Jan 9
I agree, Saints might well have lost this game last season or even more recently but, hey-ho, we prevailed and the point about our second goal knocking the stuffing out of Swansea is spot on. They were ring rusty and probably thought they'd done enough to win however, Saints overall fitness told in the end. I thought Valery's second yellow was harsh but, he should've done better, especially against a player he must have lined up against in training. Apart from getting Valery sent off, Obafemi showed nothing and we are better off shot of him. I'd like someone to tell me what Adam Armstrong brought to the game. Apart from running around like a headless chicken I saw little to impress and he hardly touched the ball. on the other hand, the old warhorse, Shane Long stood out but, it was a Championship side we were up against. Reality will bite on Tuesday.

Farlow added 11:46 - Jan 9
A great team effort,good to see Stuart A gets some game time which will sharpen him up.
As a non Shane Long fan i must congratulate him on a great effort.I thought Ralph should have pulled Valery as soon as he was booked,bearing in mind his past disciplinary record.

lemmsy added 12:45 - Jan 9
I think both players have to learn quickly that if you’ve got a booking then the better decision is to let the player through & take your chances wether he’ll score or not.If he scores fair enough 1-1 is Bette than ten men.I feel those 120 minutes are really going to hurt us on Tuesday.
On the upside our response to going behind was terrific, I for one thought it was game over whe Swansea got there second.

Colburn added 12:59 - Jan 9
Agreed we would have lost this a year ago and again shows that the spirit in the camp is very solid at the moment and we should congratulate Ralph and the players for coming through an incredibly difficult situation. Yes Swansea were a little ring rusty but they were a good passing team full of energy and ability on the ball. What a fantastic win.. I feel for Valery, its hard to step in out of the cold and we should remember his display a week ago before judging him too harshly, he will learn. Stephans did look a little rusty at the back but so did Bednarek when he came back, felt for him with the own goal but he got straight back up and played the pass of the night to Long who ruined their full back and set up Ely for the equaliser which really knocked any Swansea belief.
Brilliant from Tella to set up the first goal, pass timed to perfection and Redmond didn't have to break stride or control it before his excellent finish. Tella ran and ran and covered until he came off, what a performance off the ball. Special mention for my motm, which was Perraud, who again stepped in a little short of game time and did not stop running for 120 minutes, cap doffed to him for his efforts. No negatives for me, it was a different approach for our attacking players once we were down to ten and we should all be very proud of everyone involved, to a man..

derbydog added 13:33 - Jan 9
I felt we would gave been better to have played three at the back after the sending off, as we are knee deep with centre halves and Jack Stephens could have been on the right side of a three. That would have meant we could play JWP on the right of a midfield four to offer both defensive cover and an attacking threat too. Two up top and a goalie adds up to 19 players I think!

SaintPaulVW added 15:21 - Jan 9
Not a great game but a great result and lots of positives. 3 goal scorers, game time for injury recoverees, a win in a cup game, no further injuries, good subs, great spirit and showed progress in how we adapt to going to 10 men.

Shame about Valery but young defenders need game time and mistakes to learn good habits. Straight on social media afterwards to apologise. I hope the lesson has been learned.

Big Negative was the parochial uninformed commentary provided by BBC Wales. Several villages clearly sacrificed their idiots to make this happen.

Agree with the above that may be better to go back to 3 CB's on Tuesday to allow JWP to play a more midfield role.


Bazza added 16:52 - Jan 9
Thought Valery was very unlucky as Obafemi was already diving like he’d been shot when he was touched. Watching West Ham today, they were showing the benefit of their acting classes, conning Atwell several times. Experienced refs should be aware of these cheats but English refs in particular don’t sharp enough.

JoeEgg added 17:23 - Jan 9
Well done to all concerned at Swansea! These are extraordinary days. One minute we have a full squad of players and the next they are falling down like flies. We have players with Covid and goodness knows who will be added to that list of untouchables on Monday morning. We have right sided defenders all fighting for a place one minute- then all gone missing the next. Have we ever had two successive games with the same central defensive partnership? Written off were Forster and Long. Then back they come heros to a man after Saturdays's performances! We have the enormous promise of Livramento - wait a minute, now possibly out for a long period of time. We have an exciting attacker and goalscorer at last in Broja who could be waving goodbye soon.
Okay now we have new owners - well surely that cant be a bad thing! I have been a regular critic of Ralph's team selections and tactics in the past - but I must say this is now the time to lay off the criticism and wish him the very best of luck trying to handle a unique and almost impossible situation, and get the best out of whichever set of players can offer themselves up for consideration! Strange and challenging times indeed!

ExiledSupporter added 23:00 - Jan 9
We should have been 3 goals ahead by the time Valery was sent off! Why are we so often unable to take advantage of relatively easy chances; the number of goal opportunities we waste are not worthy of a Premiere League side. Swansea were a pretty poor side yet we were hapless in front of goal after Redmond scored. Broja looked uninterested and Redmond seemed to think he had done enough after that too. At least Long still knows where the goal is. Tella looks full of talent but he simply doesn't hit the ball hard enough when shooting and Adam Armstrong seems to have lost any idea of what he needs to do to score. Some signs of Stuart Armstrong getting match fit at least.

erick added 06:19 - Jan 10
Oriol Romeu doesn't have competition, and that's our weakest position. We need a tall CDM with a good passing range to command that midfield. I believe the boys' character showed when we didn't lose the game coupled with a number 6 and 10 signing in this window can propel us to the top half of the table.

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