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Southampton V Everton The Verdict
Sunday, 20th Feb 2022 10:11

Saints made one change for the game against the Toffee's, but what didn't change was the spirit of the performance as we weathered the early storm to put in a clinical display and once again make it Fortress St Mary's.

It is hard to believe that only a couple of months ago or so some were questioning Ralph Hasenhuttl and predicting that we would be dragged into a relegation dogfight, but since those days suddenly we have clicked and now sit 10th in the table and looking up the table and not down it.

Everton came with hope that they could continue the form shown in their win against Leeds United last week, they were out of the blocks from the kick off and for the first 10 minutes we looked out of sorts and disorganised, but we held firm and got a grip of the game that we never lost, the visitors ended the game without a shot on target.

Once again it was a solid team performance, starting with Fraser Forster in goal, the control that Mohammed Salisu & Jan Bednarek in the centre, the dominance of Kyle Walker Peters & Tino Livramento on the flanks, the way that James Ward Prowse & Oriol Romeu ruled the centre of the park, Moi Elyounoussi & Stuart Armstrong surging at the Everton back four and the strength of Armando Broja & the guile of Che Adams up front, it was a complete performance.

Earlier in the season we might well have given this game away and conceded an equaliser, but not now, if Everton thought they might get a late chance as we went into the final 15 minutes and snatch a draw they were to be disappointed and the arrival of Shane Long quickly followed by his first Premier league goal for two years made sure it was a complete victory that would not be torn from our grasp.

The opening goal was typical Saints of late, we pressed quickly won the ball and worked it to Stuart Armstrong who curled in a shot into the bottom corner.

Everton were poor, they have the players, but they didn't have our team spirit and this is what has carried us through the last few months and hopefully will continue on.

After 3 tough games this fixture was the first of a run of games against teams below us, a chance to now move up the table and we took it and with Brighton's shock defeat at home to Burnley, we are now withing a point of them and on a roll.

That result from the Amex must have sent shock waves to the Everton hordes streaming out with 6 minutes to go after Shane Long had leapt like a salmon to head home with his first touch after coming on a minute earlier.

This emphasised how much Saints have built their foundations over the past year, many have questioned the role of Shane Long this season, throwing phrases around such as "Stealing a wage" they do so without realising what Long brings to the squad, in modern football every member of your squad doesn't have to be able to play every game for 90 minutes, earlier in the season we conceded too many late goals, Long's job has been to come on in the dying stages, hold the ball up, win free kicks and fresh legs to defend from the front, it was a bonus in this game that he should score so quickly, but it was pleasing to see that goal as he truly deserved it for his service to the club and the job he now does.

This win made it 5 games unbeaten in all competitions and indeed only 1 defeat in our last 9 Premier League games, during that time we have have created a gap between us and the bottom half of the table and closed the gap between those in the top 9.

We can now look to try and move up a place next weekend, getting up further will be tough, the gap is big, but all we can do is pick up points and keep going.

For us this result saw us move close to our first task of the season and for us and all but a handful of teams in the Premier League that is avoiding relegation, that is nearly guaranteed and now we move on to the next task and that is our first top 10 finish in 5 years.

For Everton it leaves them looking over their shoulders, with Watford beating Villa it showed that the bottom 3 are not done and dusted, perhaps there is going to be a shock as a big club gets dragged down, could it be Leeds, could it be Newcastle still, could it even be Brentford who seem to be in freefall, or could it be Everton, Frank Lampard does not seem to have galvanised them as he perhaps should have done, worrying times for the Toffee's

But for Saints fans the good times were back at St Mary's yesterday, the feel good factor is there, we are all kicking in the right direction and that can only be a good thing.

Photo: Action Images

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saintpete01 added 10:48 - Feb 20
Sensational what a wonderful Team performance
Every player giving 100% percent that’s all us fans want
The atmosphere at St Mary’s Fantastic pat on the back
To the Fans
Happy Days

WestSussexSaint added 10:52 - Feb 20
It’s a joy to watch Saints again after the second half of last season and the start of this. You can see the players are enjoying themselves and the confidence is flowing through the side.

Yesterday wasn’t the same type of performance we enjoyed at Spurs as it was a little more controlled and therefore in some respects a better performance. Romeu was immense yesterday and the Everton midfield did not have an answer to him regardless of which plays were thrown on.

I don’t think there is a first XI in the PL to touch ours right now in terms of elevated performance levels, perhaps outside the top 2. I would like to see Ralph utilise the squad a little more as bringing on Djenepo and Adam Armstrong on at 90 plus minutes really was no point. There will be a time when one or two of the first XI will be unavailable and we need these guys to be close the the same level now being set.

davidargyll added 11:18 - Feb 20
Such a fantastic game, I barely looked at my watch all ninety minutes, it was SO EXCITING! In fact I was amazed, apart from the first ten minutes, how unimpressive Everton were, with all their so-called stars almost anonymous. What a baby Richarlison is; bundled over a couple of times by some determined “all for one and one for all” tackles and he completely loses his bottle. And Ok he has been injured, poor lambkin, but if Calvert-Lewin is supposed to be part of England’s future, God help us.

OK, so, as per the last couple of games, the first few minutes were a bit of heart-in-mouth stuff but once we’ve got going, we really bossed the game:
1. The midfield was so commanding, especially OR and JWP. And the latter’s free kick that Pickford somehow got to was fantastic.
2. MS did make some terrific challenges and killer passes but, as I’ve said before, he does cock it up sometimes ; it seems unfair to criticise what was a good all round performance but on at least three occasions he nearly cost us.
3. I’ve said this before, Che may not be the best striker in the world but he’s a superb team player who’s does lots of important tackling back, and there was certainly one memorable tackle (of a few) he put in to snuff out a dangerous attack.
4. Tino was the real unsung hero yesterday, playing a beautifully defensive/quasi offensive game, causing Pickford to pull out all the stops on one occasion,and his flighted cross for Shane to nod in was an absolute peach.

The two biggest laughs? A really grumpy-looking Frank calling desperately for reinforcements off the bench, and the whole of SMS singing “You’re going down, you’re going down…”.

And the absolute highlight apart from the goals? The loudest “Oh when the Saints…” heard in ages just before the end.

In the last three or four games, the team has shown it is now playing on a completely different plane, because of its ability to actually ACCELERATE IN THE SECOND HALF. And this super fitness/second gear is a joy to behold when tiring opponents are mercilessly put to the sword. So all that talk about Ralph not having a Plan B is increasingly being shown to be utter rubbish, and whatever he is putting in the team’s water, I want some of it…

IanRC added 11:32 - Feb 20
Terrific team performance. Couldn’t agree more about Shane Long and on recent form the same can be said about Nathan Redmond.

Saintsforeverj added 12:00 - Feb 20
Great performance once again. Well coached, well drilled, fit Saints team, benefitting from having a consistent manager. We were a joy to watch, with flowing moves with Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse a major part. Adams and Broja brilliant up front and Salisu once again a rock at the back. Good times. Long may it continue. How far up the table can we go?

lemmsy added 12:00 - Feb 20
Excellent team performance, brushed the toffees to one side & looked like we still had another gear.Romeu & jwp were so dominant but that almost is expected as the norm these days.
Only fault would be we could of scored a couple more .
One point on broja, of course we want him and he is so powerfully quick over those first few yards but he really does have to learn that it’s impossible to score all the time . Therefore settling up his teammates is a much better option when he’s drawn the keeper out but created an impossible angle.This is being very critical but it happens every game

Colburn added 12:06 - Feb 20
This was the best result of all the recent results for me. After raising our game against 3 of the 'big 6', to then have a tricky home match against a team with a decent line up on paper, desperate for points, rejuvenated with a new manager and signings, and come out with a dominant 2-0 win with our first clean sheet for months is nothing short of immense. We are almost unrecognisable from the winless first 7 games of the season and that horrific run of 4 wins in 28. I don't believe there is a Saints fan out there who would swap Ralph for anyone else now and he must take all the credit in the world for turning us round a third time, this time it looks like for a decent part of the near future az I can't see us returning to the ways which had me thinking it was time for a managerial change. All I can say is I am glad that it wasn't me making that decision and I'm more than happy to admit that the best decision made in recent years was to keep faith in Ralph. However, I don't think the writer of these regular digs during match verdicts has a balanced view on those who were calling for the change and I think it's time to move on from such paragraphs which often contain subtle contradictions and take away the togetherness of the win. Indeed, it becomes a little infantile. So can we just stick to the positives after such a great run and performance as I think we have all moved on. All that is left is for you to admit that Ralph knows what he is doing with the players which you underrate! Lol

landsdownsaint added 12:39 - Feb 20
So pleased for our great manager Ralph Hassenhutl who is in the top 3 managers in the league , no manager has put more effort & passion in than him & it’s probably taken it’s toll on him , he deserves our respect

SaintPaulVW added 13:37 - Feb 20
Agree with pretty much everything in the report and in the commentary. Apart from 10 minutes of initial jitters which seems to be our current MO, bossed the game all over the pitch for rest of the game.

I can't think of a single player who underperformed. Some were more showy but 'quieter' performances from Bednarek, Forster and Mo Eli were just as valuable.

KWP was my MOTM, even better given that he was not playing on his 'natural' side. He was a constant threat and never gave up on getting stuck in to the defending, stopping Everton sometimes on the second or third go.

Things that will stay with me and take me through the next bad times, the team's delight and chest bumps following Shane's goal and the noise the crowd made throughout the game and at the end.


halftimeorange added 14:30 - Feb 20
The only bad thing about yesterday afternoon was some lunatic from Liverpool setting a flare off in the packed Prince of Wales pub before the game resulting in the police closing the bar and then throwing a further three on the pitch coming up to the end of the game. Add to that the theatrics displayed by Richarlison who spent more time rolling around on the grass than he did working for his side. Lampard has one hell of a job on his hands to rally the Everton rabble (team and supporters). As for Saints, I've rarely seen a more dominant display once we got going. In the second half we really should have beaten them much earlier. Whilst we've got him I, too, hope Broja learns when it is best to pass rather than shoot and that our midfield notice the promising positions Elynoussi has stealthily got into, largely to be overlooked. Fraser Forster will never get an easier earned win bonus.

ItchenNorth added 15:01 - Feb 20
This game was won in midfield. JWP, Romeu and Armstrong we're a class apart all game.

Everton had a physical and potentially dangerous front 3, but their midfield was ineffective and could not take any control of the game what so ever..

This was not a fluent and free flowing performance from Saints and at only 1-0 Everton were obviously hanging around late in the game. Broja was having a relativity quiet game as well, but Everton didn't deserved anything. 2-0 in the end represents solid performance and 3 points. Just want we need to keep the momentum of the second half of the season going.

underweststand added 15:41 - Feb 20
Everton started brightly, but got no change from our back line, and Forster was almost unemployed after his recent heroics at Tottenham and MU, as Everton didn't get a shot on target during the whole game.
Stuart Armstrong looking at his best again, and his driving runs left the Everton defence - such as it was - was in panic much of the time. Romeu and JWP hardly put a foot wrong in midfield and might have played blindfold - with little difference. Broja looked a threat every time he got the ball, but should learn that he's not always in the best position to shoot on goal when others maybe better placed, but I've no complaints with his youthful enthusiasm and his torture of Harry McGuire at Old Trafford will stay long in the memory.

Shane Long has had his critics - ever since he turned 30 - but he still offers a threat, and his " instant goal " steadied a lot of nerves while we were still only 1-0 up. Whilst fans only see players on the pitch, it's an old adage that " games are won in the dressing room " and his years of experience surely go along way to encourage the younger ones.

Having won points off the " bigger team " in the last month, we must be sure not to let our guard down in the coming games v. teams below us fighting for their survival.
Saints have been in that position too often in the past, and one must have a little sympathy for clubs down in the drop zone, but I didn't expect to see Everton amongst them. It would be a disaster for them to start out playing in their new " £ Zillion " stadium - whilst having to fight it out in the Championship.


dellboysaint added 15:42 - Feb 20
Forster has made the difference and given the whole team confidence. The results have improved after McCarthy has gone. He has paid the price for his lapse against Brighton.

felly1 added 17:21 - Feb 20
Another great performance and win. Everyone was either good or excellent yesterday. All the guys sat on the bench now know the levels they'll have to perform at to have any chance of forcing there way into the team so this really bodes well for us going forward.
I have to say this season is working out far better than I thought it would. I've always backed Ralph but didn't see this level of consistency and excellence to be fair. Let's hopefully push towards the 40 point mark ASAP and then the young guns and fringe players may get the game time to keep them involved and build confidence in the whole squad.

saint901 added 08:52 - Feb 21
A good win and a good performance from all the players and especially the manager.

Everton matched our starting formation and that seemed to unsettle us for the first 10/15 minutes. But there was a subtle change made presumably by RH which saw SA move slightly wider which opened up the midfield and stopped the narrow press that Allan (lucky to stay on the pitch) and Beek were trying to apply. Once that happened, we began to play.

Good team goal from SA. (Interesting that each time we had a shot, for preference we went for the near post - tactical?). The Long goal was a delight with a great first time cross from Tino.

There were many moments that will linger. Salisu having a rough and tumble first half but sticking to it. Romeu beating two Everton players by basically standing still.

In a game of many fine performances though, for me JWP stood out. In one incident, he made a 40 yard right to left (KWP) pass and when Peters looked up for help, JWP was 15 yards behind him. I thought JWP was the oil that kept the team moving along and was always there when a player needed help and when a tackle needed to be made.

Chapeau to RH as well for exploiting the weaknesses of Everton with some good tactics.

Finally a sweet moment was Alli coming on and making absolutely no difference and being upstaged by an older pro in Long appearing and scoring.

SanMarco added 13:48 - Feb 21
Great stuff from the Saints. I think the main thing is the settled team. Our only poor performance lately was the Coventry one where we had ten changes. I hope everyone stays fir - if they do then top ten is perhaps a probability rather than a possibility...

Peterx added 16:30 - Feb 21
Just picking up on SanMarco's comment the multiple changes for Coventry for me where part of keeping our 1st team fresh-er for the run we went on.

The selection did not backfire in that we got through to the next round - definitely risk reward involved.

Probably not a chance we can take against West Ham so I think it's likely our Prem form will dip a bit if we prioritise the West Ham game.

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