Saints 1-2 Manchester United
I don’t much look forward to fixtures against Manchester United – we usually lose because they’re better than us. The two Dutchmen, Van Gaal and Koeman, seem to have resolved the less important part of that equation: on the basis of the game at St. Mary’s, Southampton are a far better team… but still we lose.
Once again individual errors didn’t help, and the first culprit was Fonte with a sloppy backpass that was intercepted by Van Persie with the inevitable result. The goal was not what Saints deserved with a reshuffled team to cater for injuries to midfielders Schneiderlin, Cork and Ward-Prowse, plus Alderweireld who is the first to be pressed into service in such a crisis.
Davis occupied Schneiderlin’s role, but that had a detrimental effect on attacking options until he ventured forward on 30 minutes, a move which contributed to an untidy equaliser that was nevertheless finished with some aplomb by Pellè. United were second best at this point, and they made a significant tactical change to three at the back very early on to try to cope with a Saints attack well led by Pellè but with a frustratingly enigmatic contribution by Mané and a less than incisive one by Long – both players had decent opportunities, as did Tadić who looked lightweight in a more central role.
Saints’ problems, though, seemed less acute than the visitors’ but getting the ball in the net was proving to be the difficult bit. Manager Koeman tried to change it by bringing on teenager Hesketh, but he immediately found himself lining up for a kick off when Wanyama lost track of Van Persie at a regulation free kick and once again Saints were behind. Hesketh actually showed some nice touches, notably in an exchange with Davis that was somewhat spoiled by the more experienced player, but despite being on top for most of the game, Saints failed to improve on a recent playing record that now shows one point taken from the last twelve.
LSSC Man of the Match: Maya Yoshida, often the subject of much criticism in these reports but he had a very solid game at the back and even had a chance to score.