Burnley v Southampton
Saturday, 24th February 2018
IBO Reporter : channonite
This was a match that offered Saints a chance to get a result, one that they really needed to grab with both hands, if they are to avoid relegation to the Championship. After the last couple of results - the confidence sapping loss at home to Liverpool and the encouraging Cup win away at West Brom - it wasn't really obvious which way things might go.
I just get the feeling now that Mauricio Pellegrino is shuffling things around, without any clear idea of what he wants to achieve, or how to achieve it. Increasingly the team is looking devoid of any sort of game plan. It is almost as though they are playing and hoping that the other side will make a mistake, rather than trying to make things happen themselves. Now and again, a moment or two of skill breaks out, in spite of the manager's best efforts. This game was no exception to that rule.
Manolo Gabbiadini grabbed an improbable equaliser as the game entered injury time. It was improbable, as for the rest of the game Saints showed little little sign of cohesion, yet this was a high quality goal crafted by some quick, incisive play by Redmond, Sims, Carrillo and finally Gabbiadini. Strange, but welcome to see.
As for the line-up, the back five were as before. McCarthy, Cédric, Stephens, Hoedt and Bertrand. This weeks shuffle of the pack included a midfield of Romeu, Lemina and Ward-Prowse, with Tadić and Redmond out wide. Up front, ploughing a lone furrow again was Carrillo.
The first half was largely forgettable, with Saints play shambolic and devoid of direction, just like their manager. The only thing that I can remember is one chance falling to Tadić. He hit a great curling shot, which was goal bound, until the outstretched arm of the Burnley keeper managed to just reach the ball. Apart from that, all I remember is one straightforward save from McCarthy and seemingly endless pinging of the ball backwards, and forwards by both sides. This is the Premier League and supposed to be better than that. Obviously not though.
The second half started looking a bit more promising, but it didn't last long and Saints players seemed to be involved in some sort of weird competition, in which normally skilful athletes were trying to look like a particularly poor pub team (with apologies to anyone that actually plays in a pub team, but hopefully you get my drift). Increasingly, I had the feeling that I just knew what was coming. It seemed somehow inevitable.
Jack Cork (I miss him) to Lennon and then he crosses into the box. The ball is cleared by McCarthy, but only as far as another Burnley player and after bouncing around a bit Ashley Barnes (I hate him) knocks the ball over the line. Not quite seventy minutes gone and it was 1-0. The word that covers this is - bollocks - just about covers the frustration and complete lack of surprise that it has happened.
The hapless Pellegrino then decided that maybe it might be an idea if Saints could actually score a goal to avoid defeat, so took off James Ward-Prowse and sent on Josh Sims. Almost immediately he showed the benefit of his lack of contact with the manager, by showing attacking intent.
Then came an incident which was amazing, as much for the fact that Saints missed a bullet, as the completely over-the-top fury of the Burnley fans. Yet another hopeful long ball from the home side was gathered on the edge of the Saints penalty area by McCarthy, who then clearly carried the ball out of the area and then dropped it, before kicking it back downfield. Mr Madeley ignored the loud complaints and the game carried on. A lucky escape, as any free kick conceded around the Saints penalty area these days carries a very high risk of a goal conceded.
Saints then had a decent chance, created largely from Sims willingness to run straight at the defenders. Carrillo found Sims, who ended up curling a shot, which would have gone in, but for Pope got a fingertip to it and the ball ended up hitting the post and bouncing out. Almost, but not quite.
Then Pellegrino decided that he better make some more changes, if we were to have any chance of salvaging something from this awful game. Firstly he replaced Romeu with Boufal and six minutes later made his final substitution by replacing Tadić with Gabbiadini. None of this seemed to make any difference, as the players seemed not to understand who was supposed to be doing what, or when. Understanding seemed to be absent, for now.
Normal time expired and the 4th Official held up the board showing a minimum of 3 minutes added time. This game seemed to be heading for a defeat. As the time added began, Burnley had the ball in midfield and it was passed from their left to right and Westwood, watching the ball, runs towards it, only to collide head on into a stationary referee. Yes, Mr. Madeley became Saints 12th man!
Redmond, no doubt saying 'thank you very much' collects the ball and picks out Sims on the right wing. Sims looked up and sent a wonderful pass, right to Carrillo at the far post, who headed it down to Gabbiadini in the middle of the goal area, but with two defenders on him. In one move the Italian swivels, while holding off a defender and hammers the ball past Pope. 1-1. Brilliant.
The Burnley players surround Madeley, their bench is going mad, the home fans are incensed, but the Saints fans are just laughing their proverbial socks off. Wot a larf!
There is just time for Barnes to fall down in the Saints area and try to claim a penalty (you have got to be joking, you idiot) and then Mr Madeley blows for the end of the match.
A rubbish game, with a brilliant ending and a sublime team goal.
I think, on balance, that was what I had been hoping for before the kickoff, but will it turn out to have been enough come the end of the season? For a manager with such a high profile reputation, Sean Dyche presides over one of the most limited sides I have seen for some time. Their answer whenever the going get difficult is to go long. The whinging in his post match interview was almost beyond belief.
On the other hand, when I eventually saw the replays of the Burnley 'goal' it seemed clear that Barnes had used his arm to 'persuade' the ball to cross the line. That only served to highlight the myopic behaviour of Dyche's post match rant.
So, one point gained, or another two points chucked away? For me, it was clearly a point gained and in the most dramatic fashion. The next game is at home to Stoke. Anything less than a win is simply not acceptable.
17 Berg Gudmundsson
10 Barnes - Booked 90'
14 Romeu (Boufal 75')
16 Ward-Prowse (Sims 68')
11 Tadić (Gabbiadini 81')
Sat 24th February 2018
Referee : Robert Madley
Attendance : 20,982
- Burnley 50%
- Southampton 50%
- Burnley 9
- Southampton 13
Shots on Target
- Burnley 3
- Southampton 6
- Burnley 7
- Southampton 5
- Burnley 8
- Southampton 14