Manchester City Home Lost 0 – 3
Gabbiadini returned to face Manchester City only to be involved in one of those games when leading the Saints attack is a thankless task. No-one but the squad can say whether it’s by design or by dint of the opposition’s skills, but Saints were content to sit back just as they had when securing a point at home to Liverpool without as much as a shot at goal. If there is a plan, you can see why it may be attractive, after comprehensive defeats at St. Mary’s against Chelsea, Spurs and the Arsenal FA Cup XI… but you wouldn’t want to watch it every week, and should Saints chose to adopt the tactic next season against all of the top six, that would represent over 30% of home games. On the positive side, they should have taken the lead but Tadić fluffed his chance after good work by Redmond and Gabbiadini, and with Ward-Prowse well placed had the Serb chosen not to shoot. At the other end, Plan X was working well enough, with the visitors limited to a chance badly missed by Silva, although we were grateful to Forster for denying Sané. The trouble with Plan X is that there needs to be a Plan Y and even Plan Z should the visitors score, as they did through Kompany after 55 minutes: Yoshida was left beating the ground in frustration after being beaten by the determined City skipper – but he won’t be the last in that position, and Gabbiadini’s missed header takes more blame, while on a good day Forster would have done better too. There was a Plan Y, almost immediately executed as Long and Bouffal replaced Gabbiadini and Ward-Prowse, but I’m not sure either move was altogether wise, although Saints went on to manage an on target effort at last when Yoshida got on the end of a cross from Tadić. We needed that to go in as City soon doubled their lead on a break led by DeBruyne and finished by Sané. Worse was to come when Long lost out to Otamendi (it was probably a foul) and an incisive attack was easily finished by Agüero who had no trouble rising above Soares. Saints then moved on to Plan Z with Long’s contribution ended after 22 minutes game time to his obvious disgust; Southampton’s explanation is that they didn’t mean to do it and that there was a communications failure – doesn’t sound very professional, though, does it? Still, we’ll leave the last word to Monsieur Puel’s inimitable English: “I think at the end of the game we can have different opportunities but about our play it was not sufficient for us.”
LSSC Man of the Match: Jack Stephens. I suppose you could trace that vital opening goal back to a free kick conceded by Stephens, but the award is long overdue.