Southampton v Norwich
St.Mary’s, Sunday 30th August 2015
> One win and up to 10th in the table
> Two goals for Tadić in 3 minutes
> Impressive performances all over the pitch
Sunday 30th August and I woke up in my own house for the first time since the 13th. In between times I've been on another continent, in Egypt. Where we were was nice, modern and we didn't want for anything, except a decent wifi connection. So I wasn't able to follow any of the games while I was out there, I just saw the results and heard of long ball footer and terrible performances. However, despite all that, and waking up to a cloudy sky and a temperature of under 35 degrees, I was looking forward to the game.
We took our seats just before three blokes showed up, they looked very similar, a father and his two grown up sons all dressed in new Saints shirts. One of the sons I remembered from the Espanyol game (or was it the Vitesse game?) when he sat behind us and moaned for 90 minutes. Anyway, I was heartened to hear him say, as he sat down, "We need to be positive today, right from the start, no negativity." He was talking about the team, but I was hoping he'd take his own advice. But he spent the first half moaning at Yoshida (he's shit), Targett (not good enough), Mané (always looking for the killer pass - which is a bad thing apparently) and declaring that Romeu is no Schneiderlin. Also, apparently, Ward-Prowse needed to be moved out wide. He spent so much time moaning I'm not sure he was actually watching the game, which is a shame as it was great.
I had my own brief moment of negativity before kick off when I moaned about he ref; I always think John Moss is rubbish. However, just ten seconds in Pellè was awarded a free kick, the type he doesn't usually get, when a defender climbs all over him, perhaps Mr Moss was going to prove me wrong. JWP stepped up and fired in a beautiful shot that Ruddy did very well to keep out. From the resulting corner Romeu fired over. it was fitting that those two players were involved so early as they both went on to have excellent games.
Saints started very well, they were positive and exciting, while Norwich only had one attempt, a cross that Jerome should have made contact with and at lest made Stekelenburg save it. However he completely missed the ball. That apart, Saints were in control.
We were completely on top, Tadić, Pellè, Mané, Cedric, Romeu, and especially JWP were showing what good players they are, and what a good team we are building.
In the 27th minuted Whittaker stopped Targett taking a quick throw and was booked; another good decision from John Moss. Then 3 minutes later Whittaker hauled back Tadić, who was trying to get on the end of a JWP through ball, and got his second booking (again, well done ref). Norwich down to ten men, and immediately Long and Rodriguez came out to warm up.
Saints continued to press and pass and look like the team I enjoyed watching last season. That bloke behind me, who'd moaned about the killer pass, now moaned that we were keeping hold of the ball and playing the simple pass. In added on time at the end of the first half JWP superbly won the ball back on the touchline, fed Mané who slid the ball to Pellè to score at the near post from close range. It was an excellent goal, and well deserved.
Mané and Pellè combined again a minute later with Ruddy fumbling a save. That was the last action of the half.
The second half started with J Rod replacing Davis and it looked like he had a shoot on sight policy as he first tested Ruddy, then fired a couple of shots wide. He's not quite back to his best, but I don't think he's far off it.
Mané was having a bigger and bigger influence on the game; he brought a good save from Ruddy after the keeper's poor clearance (S said, about the clearance, "That was ruddy rubbish! I've been waiting all game to say that."), then he fed Pellè who's shot into the side netting was so hard, I briefly thought it had gone in and broke the net.
in the 64th minute, Mané made a great run down the right and fired a low cross behind the retreating Norwich defenders to the un-marled Tadić who swept home expertly into the top corner.
Two minutes later Mané was at it again, this time he passed to Cedric who put in a superb cross that Pellè met and forced a great save from Ruddy with a powerful header. The ball fell at the feet of Tadić who tapped it in from close range.
At some point in the second half I noticed Norwich coach Alex Neil doing some stretching, obviously not wanting to risk doing a Sherwood.
Norwich had their first real shot in the 93rd minute, but it was well saved by Stekelenburg and cleared away by Yoshida. We had controlled the game from the start and would still have won easily even if Norwich had been left with 11 men for the 90 minutes. We also didn't miss the absent Wanyama; he's a very good player, but Romeu looked solid, combative and confident in defensive midfield, and JWP flourished in the central role.
We still had Long on the bench, Clasie out injured and only saw Juanmi for a short period of time. We may have had a difficult start to the season, and messed up in Europe, but I'm quite excited to see what this squad will do for the rest of our season.
Monday, 31st August 2015
33 Targett Booked
08 Davis Booked (Ward-Prowse - 79’ )
11 Tadic (Romeu - 45’ Booked )
07 Long (Rodriguez - 72’ )
19 Pellè Booked
32 Galloway (Browning - 88’ )
16 McCarthy Booked
09 Koné (Naismith - 80’ )
20 Barkley Booked
10 Lukaku (Deulofeu - 89’ )
- Pellè 45′
- Tadic 64′, 67′
FT 90 +4
Referee : Jonathan Moss
Attendance : 29,573
- Southampton 61%
- Norwich 39%
- Southampton 23
- Norwich 6
- Southampton 8
- Norwich 1
- Southampton 6
- Norwich 4
- Southampton 4
- Norwich 12