|Southampton 1 v 0 Arsenal|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 16th April 2022 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Arsenal The Verdict
Sunday, 17th Apr 2022 09:31
The social media critics were out for Ralph Hasenhuttl over the past week, but those who claimed he had no plan B were proved wrong as he set out his side to make it hard for Arsenal and play to Saints strengths.
There weren't many Saints supporters in confident mood as they walked to the stadium and the travelling Arsenal fans were expecting to leave with all three points and when the Saints team was announced it didn't exactly inspire confidence with two potential players of the season on the bench in Salisu & Livramento.
It was clear that Ralph Hasenhuttl was looking to make sure that his side weren't torn apart at the back again, he played three central defenders and protected his flanks with two wingbacks, then he had his solid midfield 4 and just the loan/lone striker up front in Broja.
It was designed to get men behind the ball and then go on the counter attack and it meant that chances were always going to be hard to carve out, Arsenal had a lot of the ball but rarely got into truly clear chances, most of their efforts where shots from distance, but when they did they did get a shot on target they found Fraser Forster in the form of his life.
Sometimes goalkeepers have games where they virtually win a match single handed and this was one of them, Arsenal only managed to get 6 of their 23 efforts on target and Forster produced outstanding saves on 5 of them, I truly can't remember him having a better game for the club.
No one can deny Arsenal dominated the game, they had 76% possession, they had 23 attempts on goal to our 9, but we worked hard to make sure that unlike against Chelsea they didn't carve us open, as I said much of their efforts were from distance and well wide.
Indeed they only managed 6 on target and we ourselves managed not far from that with 3.
The truth was we had to take our chances when they came along and our goal was not straight out of the coaching manual, Romain Perraud facing his own goal and with an Arsenal clearance bouncing opted to play it safe send it back over his shoulder towards the Arsenal goal.
It was purely functional and the ball looked to be going out harmlessly for a goal kick, but Moi Elyounoussi chased it, pulled it back and there was Jan Bednarek to slam it home on the cusp of half time.
The second half was always going to be one way traffic, but as much as Arsenal poured forward, they found Saints resolute and although it can't be denied that it took three good stops from Fraser Forster, in the main most of Arsenal's efforts were from distance and wide.
As the game went on we were struggling to keep the ball and when we played it forward it came straight back, this was not Armado Broja's type of game, but it is Shane Long's, on he came with 16 minutes left and immediately showed why he was on, winning the ball with his first touch so that Arsenal could not pour straight back at us.
He then did what Shane Long does well, holds the ball up, draws fouls and makes sure that defenders don't have time to get the ball down and play.
Indeed it was very appropriate that it would be Long who would have the last touch of the game, charging down an attempted clearance by Ramsdale out for a throw in, that epitomised our spirit and indeed why Long has been vital to us in closing out games this season.
The final whistle sparked relief and celebration, ironically at the same time in Watford and North London, Brighton & Brentford were scoring late winners that meant that instead of ending the day in 10th we only moved up to 12th, but we have two winnable games no in the next week to change that position.
So a Saints victory that removes any lingering doubts about relegation and shows that we are making progress, with 6 games left we are only 4 points off the total we achieved last season, we sit in 12th which is about where we are in the Premier League pecking order, Ralph Hasenhuttl has again done a good job with limited resources, yes perhaps at times we should have done better, but at others such as the games at West Ham & Spurs we have over achieved so it evens itself out.
This was a game that was a pleasure once the final whistle had gone, for most of it, it was tense & nervous ,but it showed that Ralph has a plan B, he revamped the team and was not afraid to drop those that have been key players in order to carve out a result.
It showed that his players play for him and although there was the occasional mistake, in the main everyone on the pitch did their job, if Fraser Forster's performance was a 9.5 out of 10 and some would even say a 10/10, then no one on that pitch was less than 8, there were no room for passengers in this game, it was not one where a player could shine, it was about sheer graft and work rate.
Now we have to build on this game and get points from the next two games, there will be those that say that without Fraser Forster we would have been well beaten, but that is uncharitable, in some games you need your keeper to be outstanding and it wins you those games when otherwise they would have been lost.
So let us bask in the victory and enjoy the weekend !
Photo: Action Images
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When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #35 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #34 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #33 by wessex_exile
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