Burnley Home Lost 0 – 1
This is beginning to sound like a broken record: Southampton made changes in defence and midfield (Yoshida and Redmond returning) in an attempt to solve the goalscoring problem in their latest match – home to Burnley. The visitors, meanwhile, have stumbled on a settled side and a now proven strategy that has perplexed sharper tactical brains than Southampton’s head coach’s. His difficulties, though, are not really of his own making as he inherited attacking options lacking both pace and height, or indeed a special individual quality that only the very top players possess. The nearest we have to that is Boufal, but against the Clarets he was faced with having to take on mass ranks of defenders, which is well beyond his abilities, and the same problem scuppered the developing ploy of exchanging swift passes around the edge of the box. So far no mention of the key moments in the game, but there were few to choose from. Yoshida came closest for Saints with an improvised overhead attempt after a corner, but Pope pushed it over the bar; then a rising shot by Davis might have beaten the keeper, but it flew too high. The crucial moment was the 65th minute when Austin replaced Gabbiadini while the visitors swapped the sole striker, Wood, for two in Barnes and Vokes, sacrificing one of their hard working midfielders. That was an indication that Sean Dyche was winning the tactical battle, and he was well on the way to winning the whole war when Vokes headed home within the last ten minutes: Yoshida was left beating the ground in frustration at his efforts while Forster’s detractors will no doubt feel he could have got across to what was actually a very well directed strike. Saints managed a more threatening last couple of minutes with Van Dijk up front and Ward-Prowse introduced to provide the ammunition, but Burnley are quite capable of handling the unsubtle as well as the subtle.
LSSC Man of the Match: Steven Davis. Well, who would you give it to?