Swansea Home Drew 0 – 0
Plus ça change, c’est plus la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same) was originally a damning commentary on the results of the French Revolution, but many were left thinking as much about the less violent transition from Monsieur Puel to Señor Pellegrino as Saints extended their goal-less run at home to six games. Of course the new manager has to work with the same personnel (in fact he’s lost Rodriguez) as new signing Lemina was hardly ready to integrate, while Van Dijk doesn’t have that inclination, notwithstanding a mystery ailment that kept both him and opponents Swansea’s star player, Sigurdsson, out of the scoreless opener. Conventional wisdom has it that a point away is always point gained, but without Sigurdsson the Swans looked very ordinary and the match stats don’t flatter Saints: 60% possession and a whopping 29 attempts on goal to the visitors’ 4, and 13 corners to nil. They don’t count blocked shots as ‘on target,’ so a first half effort by Ward-Prowse and a shot after a turn by Abraham just after the break aren’t included in the two on target attempts (both Southampton’s), although they are among the game’s few really near misses. To those must be added Tadić’s near post stab and an added time free kick just past the post from the most unlikely of sources: Maya Yoshida, who had also missed with a very presentable headed opportunity. So plus ça change… well almost, as the kit is now a 1980s retro affair. We searched in vain for a new Williams, Channon or Keegan, or even a goalscoring midfielder like Holmes or Armstrong, and of course any sort of Wallace. Well maybe some of Stephens’ classier moments recalled Mark Wright and we did see some evidence of the full backs getting forward, Golac style, more often than under the previous regime, but it is indeed true that the club need new investment to progress, or even maintain the level we’ve become used to: Manchester City’s net summer spending alone would have wiped out over 5% of Katharina’s reported fortune, and no doubt the resulting wage bill would have been making rapid inroads into the rest.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jack Stephens, although underworked. Anyone scoring a Southampton goal would have won the award at a stroke.