Sunderland 2-1 Saints
Wanyama returned from a ban to face Sunderland, but Schneiderlin has picked up a knock that will keep him out for the rest of the season, and possibly the rest of his Saints career as a result. That meant Alderweireld continuing in midfield, and you know what I think of that. Indeed, this was a game where the premium choice centre back pairing could have stopped both the goals that put paid to Saints hopes, thereby saving at least a point.
In Sunderland’s position, you do what you can to get a result, and it’s unfair to complain that their most effective approach involved high balls up the middle of the pitch, but they did find out Yoshida that way. After 20 minutes, an indecisive Yoshida header was knocked back into the path of Graham who promptly found Fonte’s boot in his chest. The skipper has been injudicious in quite a few penalty box challenges this year, but only now has he been punished, Gomez beating Davis’s dive from the spot.
The Mackems’ lead was short lived, Saints equalising within minutes thanks to Pantilimon dropping the ball under challenges from only his own defenders for Mané to put it into the empty net. This was a pretty dreadful game, with the Saints side that had scored eight against the same opponents earlier in the campaign struggling to get the ball to either Long or Pellè, so Long was replaced by Djuričić at the break… to little obvious effect.
Another long ball led to Sunderland’s winner, and again it was a Gomez penalty. Ward-Prowse lost possession to Catermole, but chased back hard as the resulting long ball caused more problems for Yoshida, only to arrive in time to launch a challenge from behind as Defoe was poised to shoot. Not only a penalty goal, but also a dismissal leaving Saints with a lot to do to bring something home from the north east.
They failed in that task, although Alderweireld did manage the team’s only real shot of note in the very last minute, Pantilimon at 6 foot eight inches making a full length save to deny him.
LSSC Man of the Match: Toby Alderweireld, who can only play where’s he’s told to. With Ward-Prowse now facing a ban, we’re likely to see more of his midfield skills.