Southampton v Everton
19th January 2019
Ward-Prowse scored another goal in an excellent performance
IBO Reporter : channonite
Well, that was a pleasant surprise. It should have been a more emphatic win, with the stats on this occasion just not telling the whole story. If you look at the stats in isolation, they seem to tell you that Everton were unlucky, with over 60% possession, but that is just flat out misleading, as Saints were dominant. The midfield trio of Højbjerg, Romeu and particularly Ward-Prowse simply ran the show. Ward-Prowse in particular was a revelation, scoring Saints first goal of the day, with a great shot on the run from the edge of the penalty area. The second goal was a real comedy gold effort from Digne who, while trying to dispossess Redmond, only succeeded in volleying past his own goalkeeper from all of 25 yards.
With McCarthy back in goal, the defence was once again made up of three CB's; Bednarek, Stephens and Vestergaard, with Valery and Targett as the wing-backs. It is looking likely now that Hasenhüttl will persist with three CB's, as every time he goes to a more conventional four at the back, the team implodes.
In the midfield we had the usual (in Lamina's continued absence) trio of Romeu, Højbjerg and Ward-Prowse. They are very much the backbone of the team these days and the improvement in form from both Romeu and Ward-Prowse just illustrates how useless our last two managers in particular were.
At the front were the transformed Redmond and the effective, but seemingly fragile Ings.
One of the features of Hasenhüttl's Saints seems to be the fluidity that he is getting from his midfield and forwards. Rather than a rigid formation, they swap and move around
Everton started the brighter of the two sides, winning two corners in rapid succession, without ever really threatening Saints goal. However, Saints quickly settled and looked by far the more threatening in attack, with some nice interplay between Ward-Prowse and Targett, which saw the former's shot just deflected wide.
Around the 15 minute mark came a great chance for Saints to open the scoring. A corner was taken by Ward-Prowse, with the ball met beautifully at the near post by Ings, but his glancing header, heading for the far bottom corner was pushed away one handed by a diving Jordan Pickford.
Five minutes later Everton had a chance go begging, when some nice interplay between their forwards saw Lookman connect a fierce shot, which was heading for the bottom left of the Saints goal, with McCarthy well beaten, when Bednarek seemingly appeared from nowhere to get in a vital block.
One player who does seem to have benefitted from the change of manager, is Jan Bednarek, who is looking better and better with each game. Not just in defence either. Shortly after his last ditch goal saving block, the Pole lobbed a wonderful ball right into the path of the advancing Ings, whose first time, on target volley was blocked by Pickford.
Redmond then came closest of all to scoring, when a wonderful, defence splitting through ball from Højbjerg found the Englishman and running left of the goal, his left footed shot went past Pickford but just clipped the base of the far post and bounced harmlessly away. The TV cameras picked up Redmond grinning from ear to ear after this and that is clearly a player who is enjoying his football these days.
Then, with ten minutes to go in the half, Hasenhüttl was forced to make a change, when Targett was injured and plainly could not continue, sending on Cédric to play out of position on the left.
If the Redmond effort had been close, then Saints were even closer moments later, with Ings twisting and turning, surrounded by Everton defenders, but before he could shoot, Gomes whacked the ball away from him, but the attempted clearance then hit the base of the same upright that Redmond had clipped earlier.
So, we reached halftime with the score still 0-0, but with Saints having had several decent chances to score. Halftime talk entered around a) How had Saints not scored and b) Would we regret all the missed chances in the second half?
Almost straight from the kick off Everton had a decent chance and perhaps should have scored, when from a cross wide on the Saints right, a near post header from Sigurdsson looked as though it was going in, but McCarthy just got his finger tips to it and it went behind for a corner, which came to nothing.
Then came the game changing moment. Stephens played a long ball forward on the left, which was headed down by a defender and Ward-Prowse collected the ball and drove towards the Everton penalty area. He then unleashed a tremendous drive from the edge of the 'D', which shot into the bottom left of the Everton goal, past the diving Pickford. GOAL!
That was just reward for all the positive play and the missed chances in the game so far. Ward-Prowse really has come on in leaps and bounds since Hasenhüttl became manager and he is now so much more than just a dead ball specialist.
A few minutes later Saints played a wonderful passage of play between several players in the middle, ending with Ings finding Redmond all alone in the middle. The Englishman ran straight at the Everton goal, but before he could shoot, the fast recovering Digne ran across Redmond from the right, trying to dispossess him, but some how contrived to shoot low and hard into the bottom left of his own goal. That was really one of the most spectacular own goals that you are ever likely to see and a real moment of comedy gold.
So now the scoreline at 2-0 looked a fairer reflection of the game. Could the new improved Saints see out the remaining half an hour?
By now Ings was looking knackered and he was replaced with just under 20 minutes left by Shane Long. Saints had the upper hand, with the team working their socks off and kept looking for an opening. A tremendous driving run out of defence by Jack Stephens almost gave Long a sniff of goal but it eventually went for a corner after some great attacking play by several players, notably Yan Valery. From Ward-Prowse's corner kick Stephens could only head over the bar and another chance went begging.
An even better chance came when, after more incisive approach play, Long ended up drawing an excellent save from Pickford. It is fair to say that the home fans were loving this!
So, the 90 minutes were up and Saints seemed completely on top. Almost on cue in the first minute of five added on, Everton scored. A particularly messy passage of play in and around the Saints penalty area, saw the ball pinging around, but just not being cleared. Eventually the ball found it's way to Sigurdsson, whose goal bound shot evaded a number of players, ending up buried in the bottom left of the net. 2-1.
It was a nervous last four minutes, which somehow stretched out to more than six. It seemed so much longer at the time! But, there was to be no coming back for Everton and the final whistle saw scenes of relief and joy all around the ground.
Man of the Match
There were several contenders, with the team fighting tooth and nail for the win, but for me the sand-out was James Ward-Prowse, who just seems to grow in stature with every game. His goal was a wonderful example of his new found determination.
Joy when Redmond's shot was turned into his own net by Digne
33 Targett (Cédric 35')
22 Redmond - Booked 67' (Armstrong 86')
9 Ings (Long 74' - Booked 90')
8 André Gomes (Calvert-Lewin 57')
17 Gueye - Booked 67'
10 G Sigurdsson
20 Bernard (Walcott 75')
30 Richarlison (Tosun 65')
Saturday 19th January
- Ward-Prowse 50'
- Digne 64' (og)
- G Sigurdsson 90'+1
Referee: Graham Scott
- Southampton 39%
- Everton 61%
- Southampton 11
- Everton 7
Shots on Target
- Southampton 4
- Everton 2
- Southampton 7
- Everton 6
- Southampton 12
- Everton 11