Lallana 19' Rodriguez 93'
St.Mary’s - 6th October, 2013
Referee : Mike Dean
Attendance : 28,570
Saints won an important match today.
This puts down a marker, beating a much fancied team and Saints achieved this by absorbing pressure and harrying them into mistakes, personified by Rodriguez' goal. He chased and harried the full backs and snapped away at Vorm, forcing him into a mistake and before you knew it he hammered the ball into the net.
Mauricio Pochettino's substitutions had a huge effect. Ward-Prowse for Osvaldo stemmed the Swansea attacks down the right wing and denied them their most productive outlet. Rodriguez for Lambert injected some much needed pace and aggression up front at the very moment the Swansea rearguard was tiring. The last change of Guly for 'Interesting' Steve was just to eat up the clock.
My player markings for what it is worth -
Boruc 9 - Was outstanding in the first half and had far less to do in the second. Sometimes he appears too casual by half and his kicking has me with my head in my hands at times, but he is definitely the best goalkeeper Saints have had for years (another dose of humble pie for me).
Clyne 7 - Funnily enough he didn't fill me with confidence in this match. He was caught out of position a fair few times, but usually managed to retrieve the situation.
Fonte 8 - Our central defenders just get better and better. Apart from getting booked he did little wrong and that is in spite of being under almost constant pressure the whole game.
Lovren 8 - Imperious. The only oddity was being booked along with Fonte in the same incident. I can't remember that happening before.
Fox 5 - The weak link in the team, but Pochettino seemed happy to leave him on. It was pointed out to me that he was constantly flexing and feeling a calf muscle during the second half. He was hung out to dry on more than one occasion by a complete lack of cover, but the situation improved when Ward-Prowse came on.
Lallana 9 - Easily his best game at St.Mary's for a long time. He was fantastic in the first half, all his usual twists and tricks supplemented by work rate and persistance. He tailed off a little bit in the second, but was still good.
Davis 8 - Ran himself into the ground and his pass to Lallana for the first goal was perfectly weighted. He seems to have grown into this role, as Ramírez seems to have drifted out of it.
Schneiderlin 8 - An average game from his very high standards, but there were still some lovely weighted passes from him and some terrier like tackling.
Wanyama 8 - If he could pass accurately for more than five yards, then he would be the perfect midfielder. Other than that, he had another good game.
Lambert 7 - Things just didn't fall for him today, but not through lack of trying.
Osvaldo 7 - Worked hard and probably deserved better. Suffered a pretty awful tackle and for the first time we saw the Osvaldo 'red mist' descend. Probably a wise move to take him off.
Ward-Prowse 8 - Made a huge difference. Plugged the gaps on the left and put himself about. He is looking a real quality player these days.
Rodriguez 8 - Brought on at exactly the right moment. Full of running and his goal was worth the entrance money alone. Not spectacular, but representing the 2013/14 Saints attitude. Herry and hustle until the other makes a mistake.
Guly - Not really on for long enough to have any effect. Ran down the clock a bit.
Summing Up :
What a team this is turning into. From back to front there are quality players giving 110% all match. Towards the end Swansea were reduced to shooting from distance and that is a sign of a team that have run out of ideas. Laudrup was quoted after the match as saying "They got a good goal but the whole of the second half was all about us. We still need too many chances to score. After the St Gallen game, I said they deserved a little more. Today, I think we deserved a little more." I just love these managers myopic views. That is straight out of the Wenger book of excuses.
Roll on Manchester United away. Even if Saints lose, they will still be above them in the table. Wonderful, heady days.
6th October 2013
06 Fonte Booked
05 Lovren Booked
08 Davis (Do Prado - 89' )
12 Wanyama Booked
17 Osvaldo (Ward-Prowse - 58' )
07 Lambert (Rodriguez - 68' )
21 Do Prado
21 Cañas Booked
15 Routledge (Pozuelo - 67' )