|I was pleasantly surprised with Theo’s first game back at Saints but, of course, he will be obliged to sit out this one against his parent club. We have a ready-made replacement in Stuart Armstrong who is back after his Covid isolation period. I don’t expect any other changes to the starting XI from Stamford Bridge.
Everton are unbeaten after 4 straight wins followed by a massive dose of luck in the Liverpool “Derby” last week. Richarlison begins a 3-match ban for his red card in that game but “Mad-Axeman” Pickford is available for selection. Kenny and Coleman will both be missing whilst Toffee’s talisman, James Rodriguez, is rated as “doubtful”.
Kevin Friend is our referee with Simon Hooper on VAR. I’m hopeful Saints will have enough to extend our unbeaten run to 4 games and even Lawro fancies a home win. COYR
James Ward-Prowse scored a cracking goal just before the half-hour mark in the first half
IBO Reporter : spot51
|So, James played after all. There were three Everton changes however: Iwobi for the suspended Richarlison, Godfrey making his first start instead of the injured Coleman and a tactical switch seeing Andre Gomes on the bench and Sigurdsson taking the captain’s armband in midfield. Saints were as expected.
The most interesting stats of the day were that:
- Everton haven’t won their first 3 away games since 1938, and
- Whenever Richarlison is out, Everton never win.
The studio pundits were Jamie Redknapp and Kieran Dyer. The latter is convinced Ings is just waiting for another Big 6 club to come in for him (the W@nker). Jamie was decent enough to contradict that rubbish. The anniversary of 0-9 was not forgotten but usually mentioned in the context of Saints’ recovery under Ralph in the past 12 months.
Everton emerged in pale green and grey which is apparently their 3rd Hummel kit. Bill Leslie was the match commentator “assisted” by Alan Smith. Iwobi kicked off towards the Chapel End and we were underway.
An early foul on Bertie allowed JWP to curl a FK into their box and DCL headed out for a corner. JWP took this but, with the ball in the air, the ref saw a foul on a defender. Everton’s first attack saw Keane overhit his pass beyond Iwobi. On 6' Iwobi drifted in a cross from the left but McCarthy came and grabbed it.
Saints enjoyed some possession, keeping the ball and making Everton chase it. Digne finally won and cleared it. On 10m Bednarek rose to head out Iwobi’s cross but the resulting corner was cleared. Then Ings set up Redmond to fire a low hard drive which just squeezed between the far post and the outstretched boot on Adams sliding in. Close!
Iwobi won another Everton corner but, again, a Saints head was first to Sigurdsson’s cross. As the away team came back, Bertie upended Calvert-Lewin within shooting distance. James lined up the FK but, though his shot evaded our wall, it was easily fielded by McCarthy.
On 18' Redmond played in Bertie behind Godfrey but the full-back’s low effort hit the side netting, A minute later, James hit a sweet Crossfield pass to Sigurdsson which the Icelander controlled and sent a looping shot over McCarthy who was grateful to see it bounce off the bar and over.
Saints next attack saw Armstrong swing and miss at a ball into the box. It was looking a close game, crying out for a bit of luck or a spark of genius. On 26' Romeu met a ball outside the box with a fierce drive that Pickford did well to parry. Digne gratefully lumped the ball into touch.
From KWP’s throw, Saints carved Everton open. JWP controlled the ball, played a short pass to Ings and carried on running. The return pass fell nicely for Saints captain who struck a right footed drive across the keeper into the far corner. 1-0 Saints.
Everton pushed forward but Saints defended well to prevent them getting any sight of goal. Vestergaard seemed first to the ball whenever it came into our box. At the other end, Redmond walked past Godfrey but there was no-one at the back post when his chip by-passed Pickford.
Saints were now camped in their half and on 35' Adams turned the ball into the path of Ings who broke down the left side. Adams made a beeline for the far post and, as Ings cross came over, must’ve encouraged his captain to leave it. As JWP stepped back, Adams controlled it and sent a low, hard drive in off Sigurdsson’s leg and past Pickford. 2-0 and well worth it!
Saints seemed to take a breather and were happy to let Everton see more of the ball. On 39' there was a lovely bit of skill from James, but in the centre-circle it couldn’t harm us. Then Saints broke up-field again and Adams ran into space before cutting it back to Armstrong. The Scot fired in a lovely shot past Pickford but then, in the current fashion, the flag went up. VAR confirmed Adams had been offside so that particular strike was chalked off.
On 41' Everton won another corner, but McCarthy’s fist sent it clear of danger. Armstrong conceded another, but Adams was too strong for James and Saints cleared the ball. Everton then probed down the left but as soon as the ball was played for Digne to cross, Danny Ings was on top of him blocking the ball.
Everton were unable to create another opportunity before the 4th Official signalled 1 added minute. Everton did then manage to find Godfrey in space, but his mishit cross sailed tamely into the Chapel stand. Time up: Saints 2-0 at half time and the score did not flatter them.
Iwobi had been busy but ineffective and was replaced by Bernard for the 2nd half. Moments after kick-off Adams was in again but his tame shot was caught by Pickford. Then Redmond fouled Godfrey allowing Sigurdsson to loft the ball into our box. Vestergaard headed it away. When Everton played it back in, Mina’s header was easily saved by McC. Saints then got forward before Digne got down the left to win a corner off KWP. James took it but, when the ball was played back to him, he was stood offside!
Saints went down the other end and Bertie seemed to be upended by Godfrey in their box. Neither Ref nor VAR saw a foul. Play was then stopped when Bednarek was floored by the flailing arm of Digne. A long ball towards DCL was met by Vestergaard and then Bednarek won the ball from their #9. There were slim pickings for the lad today. Saints then got forward again but Redmond’s shot sailed well wide.
On 57m Digne’s cross hit KWP’s arm giving Everton a free kick near the corner of our box. KWP was carded and Digne crossed from the left but Ings headed the ball out. Godfrey then fouled Bertie and before the restart Ancelotti withdrew both Doucoure and Siggurdsson. On came Delph and Gordon with Digne taking the armband.
Gordon broke down the left, sending Bernard into our box. His square ball to James was intercepted and cleared by the centre-backs. On 62m a good break by Adams and Redmond enabled Armstrong to fire across the face of goal. Any touch by Ings would have scored but, replays showed, he was probably offside anyway.
Up the other end, Romeu was hacked while bringing the ball out and Bernard was booked. Everton enjoyed a period of possession, but Saints simply got into their shape and denied them progress. When they eventually swung a cross in from the left it was Vestergaard on the end of it – again!
At the ¾ point Saints still looked in control, but the tide suddenly swung away from Everton. First Bernard brought down KWP but Mr Friend didn’t see it as worth a 2nd yellow. Within a minute Digne tried to hack Walker-Peters but the youngster rode the challenge. The Frenchman pursued him up-field and brought him down with an ugly looking trip from behind. Kevin friend saw it as a reckless and dangerous tackle – straight red. Keane became Everton’s 3rd captain of the day.
KWP was scraped off the park and, thankfully, able to continue. Next, James was lucky to escape a booking for his foul on Redmond. Then a Saints attack broke down near the corner flag and Everton found DCL sprinting down the left touchline. In came Vestergaard like a heat-seeking missile and won the ball and brought it away. Great defending that.
At the other end, Allan did well to get to a ball towards Adams which went out for a corner on our right. Bertie swung it over and Vestergaard met it. His powerful header was tipped over by Pickford. JWP’s corner was headed clear and Everton broke away. Gordon found DCL in the box but he was seen off by Bednarek and Vestergaard once more.
By the 80' mark James was limping, but all Everton’s subs were on the pitch. The man advantage helped Saints keep the ball and on 84' Romeu’s deft chip almost found JWP breaking into the box. On 85' Armstrong won a corner but, on the touchline, his number was up – replaced by Diallo.
JWP’s kick was played back in where, eventually, Ings took a pot at goal but sent his shot high. Smith commented that everyone in R&W had played well today. On 89' Dan N’Lundulu replaced Adams for his first team debut. The final minute passed with no incident and +5m was shown for added time.
DCL was carded for a late challenge on Vestergaard. Alan Smith gave MoM to Redmond but admitted there were plenty of options. Dan the sub’s eyes lit up when Pickford spilled a long range shot from Romeu, but the keeper quickly recovered it.
That was about it. Saints kept the ball until the final whistle blew and after all that, Lawro (the old Red Scouser) was bang on with his 2-0 home win prediction.
Summary & Man Of the Match
That was a great team performance. Credit to Ralph and the coaches for spotting that a part-fit James and an ex-Norwich centre half down their right was a weakness. Redmond, Bertie and often Armstrong and Ings exploited that area which helped keep James quiet and made Godfrey’s afternoon uncomfortable.
Ings and Adams did what they always do and our midfield, assisted by the wide men, generally gave Allan and his pals plenty of problems. Both full-backs played well again and McCarthy did everything he needed to. Both centre backs looked comfortable against the pundits’ current favourite striker. I joked that he’d see the game from “inside Jannik’s pocket” but, effectively, that is what happened.
Vestergaard is now looking the player we hoped he’d be when we recruited him from German football and I love the way he plays, with his head up, looking to hit a 50 yard cross-field pass to change the play. Jannik is my Man of the Match.