Watford Home Lost 0 – 2
The early season break promised a change in fortunes for Southampton’s misfiring attacking options as our players scored more goals on international duty than the club has managed from open play in the first four games of the season. One scorer was Lemina, but he was relegated to the bench, presumably because he played two far-off games, but through fewer time zones than other travellers who made the team. Also missing, with more logic, was Yoshida, giving Hoedt a debut, while Boufal got a rare start, maybe because he’s not good enough to be selected by Morocco these days. Boufal’s role in the line-up against Watford was a roving one, playing somewhere, anywhere, behind Gabbiadini, but wherever he went, the ball generally did not, and when he did find possession, more physical opponents got the better of him. However, it’s wrong to blame one player for the team’s most inept performance since… well, since the tame exit from the Carabao Cup in their last outing at St. Mary’s. Forster again attracted criticism, mainly down to being beaten by shots from similar distances – but both were well struck and found the corner. The first, shortly before half time from Doucouré, was difficult for the team to prevent as it was a second effort after his first was blocked. The second came on 62 minutes from defensive substitute Janmaat and this one should have been blocked – but Watford always looked game for a shot from around 20 yards, whereas Saints just don’t have shots at all. That’s not statistically correct as we’re shown to have had nine shots, but the only one on target was an added time effort from over 30 yards by Soares, and it was the only one anyone could recall afterwards – anyone of the few remaining in the ground at that time. This was another disappointing day at what should be our home fortress, but the way 2016/17 closed meant that the beginning to 2017/18 is scarcely a surprise. The major interim signing, Lemina, shows promise but I hope someone’s explained to the player why he wasn’t allowed to complete any of his starts, or even get onto the pitch for this latest game. Good news is we’ve acquired yet another centre back, as well as apparently welcoming VVD back to the fold, at least for now anyway.
LSSC Man of the Match: Wesley Hoedt, edging out his partner, Stephens, who had his side’s best opportunity after a corner.