Newcatle Away lost 3 – 0 to much fog on the Tyne for Saints
You kind of knew things might go wrong at Newcastle when a team that excluded Romeu was revealed: we rarely play better without the Spaniard, and surely his qualities would have been ideal for this particular fixture? Then the selected XI took to the pitch wearing an unusual combination of shirt, shorts and socks that added to the feeling that all was not well – and it certainly wasn’t after 63 seconds when an early home goal went in. Now I had assumed that one or other or both of Ward-Prowse and Højbjerg would be expected to look after Shelvey, Newcastle’s more influential player, but neither the duo nor the team as a whole seemed to get near him, neither in the opening stages nor in the game as a whole. So it was that Shelvey lumped a ball forward for Kenedy, Peréz and Gayle to run on to; surely no surprise there as the Stephens and Hoedt combination have been showing themselves to be susceptible to this ploy, and this time they didn’t even mount a challenge as Kenedy ended up contesting the high ball with Soares and netted with a neat finish. Twice more The Toon nearly succeeded with this most basic tactic before Saints fell further behind with 30 minutes played, and again a known weakness was exploited. Seven days earlier Stoke should have scored after a Southampton corner was cleared, but let themselves down by poor execution; Newcastle showed no such mercy from a similar situation, breaking with speed and numbers before Kenedy tapped the ball home with embarrassing ease. A double substitution at half time hardly helped our cause: although Lemina had made crucial mistakes, he is clearly our best player and the cause can hardly be helped by replacing him. Substitute Sims managed one of Southampton’s two shots on target, but not before Ritchie had put the game to bed with a goal that asked questions of the goalkeeper and of the team’s overall work ethic. Sr. Pellegrino stuck it out in the technical area, despite the mist and rain, but at St. James’ Park he’s far enough away not to have been affected by increasingly insulting levels of invective levelled at him by visiting fans. Pre-match he had suggested, with some cause, that his team has been playing better since the turn of the year, but his time out he was forced to apologise for their performance, adding some especially damning comments about their attitude in an extremely important game, and that’s very, very worrying.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond, again. All of a sudden he’s our most consistent performer, but that says a lot about his colleagues’ form – especially in this game.