West Brom Away
Oh dear, another game when we have to spend as much time discussing line-ups as action on the pitch! This was at West Brom, where local awkward squad member Berahino was given time on the bench to contemplate why a move to Tottenham was not going to be in anybody’s best interests, a ploy given further spice for this fixture as Rickie Lambert was keeping him out of the starting XI. Southampton’s equivalent, Wanyama, was restored and we had a debut for Virgil Van Dijk (inevitably known as Dick in homage to a Hollywood great, and Big Dick in an unproven double entendre) – no place for Mané or Romeu, though, as Ronnie chose to give the team width through Rodriguez and Tadić. It could have worked when Tadić crossed for Rodriguez but the latter’s header was off target, and that was it for Saints in the first half. It was more than the Baggies could offer, though, but Saints fans had a big scare when McManaman threatened to get past Targett, only to be foiled by tripping himself up before he met the full back’s diving leg – full marks to the referee and just a few of our colleagues who spotted this in ‘real-time,’ and to manager Pulis for admitting that Mr. Attwell had made the correct decision. Berahino and Mané both made it onto the pitch before the end, but if anything the second period was even more nondescript than the first, with Stekelenburg eventually deciding to inject a bit of excitement by dropping a cross onto his own goal-line. At least the match stats gave Saints a clear edge in terms of possession, shots, crosses, corners and even throw-ins, and the manager may be thinking that a third clean sheet in succession gives him something to build from.
LSSC Man of the Match: Virgil Van Dijk, thanks to an overwhelming vote on the train home. I’d have given it to Fonte for doing more of the difficult stuff, and Van Dijk was fortunate that Rondón couldn’t make more of the only time he got away from the centre back pairing: Chim, Chim-e-ney, Chim, Chim-e-ney, Chim, Chim Cheroo, good luck will rub off when I shakes hands with you.