|Well, that turned out as well as could be expected and ManU being stuffed 1-6 by Spurs later in the day rather put our loss to them in a slightly better light. Added to which, the Premier League table is looking altogether healthier for us now, with both Manchester clubs below us (for the time being).
The only surprise for me in the Saints lineup was Djenepo retaining his place and Redmond could only make the bench. After his good showing last time out, it was good to see Ralph keeping faith with the improved Vestergaard.
Team selection is all becoming a bit predictable, so I entirely understand Ralph's keenness to get some new faces in and some of the old faces out. In the post match interviews, he probably caused cardiac arrests amongst some of the Saints marketing department by confirming, before the club had announced it, that the midfielder, Ibrahima Diallo had signed from French Ligue 1 side, Brest.
Moussa Djenepo scored Saints first goal of the afternoon
IBO Reporter : channonite
|Quite a dramatic day in the Premier League, with Manchester United losing 6-1 to Spurs and then Liverpool losing 7-2 to Aston Villa. Saints somewhat routine 2-0 win over West Brom seemed more than a little overshadowed.
The fact that it was a routine win was a relief and meant back to back wins and clean sheets, after the opening day loss to Crystal Palace and the hammering by Spurs.
As the teams came out I was conscious that West Brom had played well in their opening games, without getting the results that were deserved.
The opening exchanges were cagey, with West Brom clearly out to frustrate the Saints forwards, by keeping goal side of the ball and holding their shape. Eventually they were opened up by a long diagonal pass from Vestergaard to Walker-Peters on the touchline. The Saints right back's pass for Danny Ings, was deflected by the outstretched boot of a West Brom defender towards goal. Sam Johnstone, the Baggies keeper, managed an instinctive block and Che Adams was onto it in a flash. Once again Johnstone saved, sticking his boot out to send the ball over the crossbar. Two saves in as many seconds. Impressive, but frustrating from our point of view.
Not long after that Johnstone was called on again, when a Ward-Prowse free kick, wide on the right, was flicked on by Danny Ings and seemed destined for the bottom left corner of the West Brom goal, until the keeper flung himself across the goal and at full stretch just managed to push it around the post for a corner kick.
Saints were asking all the questions at this point and Johnstone rolled the ball out to a West Brom defender, who tried to thread the ball upfield, but he was surrounded by three red shirts and it was Ings game out in possession. In a flash they were bearing down on goal and Ings found Adams to his left, whose shot fizzed a foot wide of the post. Another good chance went begging.
The first goal eventually came almost on the stroke of halftime, after a strange passage of play, where neither side seemed to be able to keep hold of the ball, but all the time play was getting nearer the West Brom penalty area. Adams and Ings combined once again, with the latter finding Djenepo, via a deflection off a defender. The Malian twisted and turned to make space for himself and eventually managed a shot with his left, that found the bottom corner of the net beyond Johnstone's reach. 1-0 and to be honest that was no more than the team deserved, as they were so much better then the Baggies.
So halftime and Saints were playing well, although you can never be comfortable with just a single goal and 45 minutes to play.
Djenepo got booked shortly after the restart and Ralph clearly decided to replace him, rather than risk him getting sent off again, so Redmond came on for his return from injury just five minutes later.
West Brom were hardly troubling McCarthy and Saints were looking well worth their lead when the second goal came. There was some great interplay between Walker-Peters, Armstrong, Romeu and Redmond. Armstrong got to the byeline and sent a looping shot back to the edge of the penalty area, to find an onrushing Romeu, whose spectacular volley rifled into the back of the net, giving the goalkeeper not even a sniff of a chance. Wonderful. 2-0 and comfortable.
West Brom did have a couple of chances, but you never felt that Saints lead was under any threat. Walker-Peters was having a barnstorming game and was at the heart of almost every good move that the home team made. Eventually he ran straight at the defenders and tried a shot himself, but it went wide.
Saints saw out the game in impressive fashion and were worthy winners, without ever giving the impression that they had extended themselves. And two goals not even scored by a striker, that can't be bad. But, it's going to be a long season for West Brom on this form.
Man of the Match
Two, or three options here, with Walker-Peters looking increasingly impressive in the right wing back spot, but for me one of the highlights of the season so far has been the resurgent form of Oriol Romeu and that goal was just a peach of a volley. So, he takes it for me.