Norwich Home Won 2 – 1
The latest players in the Premier League broadcasting game, Amazon, went old school for the December midweek round and had us kicking off at 7:30 – a welcome move for many of us. On the pitch, Southampton’s starting line up to play Norwich had just one change: Long in for Obafemi, showing that someone was paying attention to the improvement shown after a similar change in the last game – the Curious Case of Boufal’s Toe is still rumbling on, it seems. The visitors were pretty poor, offering little threat up front and always looking vulnerable at the back, but would Saints be able to take advantage? They were set on their way by a familiar combination when Ward-Prowse was fouled near the corner flag and sent in an inviting free kick that was converted by Ings at the near post with a glancing header. We deserved a second goal and it came from one of a succession of corners before the break, Ward-Prowse again providing the ammunition and Long contributing an assist with a decisive header before an unlikely scorer, Bertrand, swept the ball home from close range. The Canaries (for some reason kitted out in charcoal grey) made two changes for the second period and immediately sought to exploit a familiar gap between our centre backs, but the half was progressing with business as usual before a poor clearance by McCarthy let Tettey feed Pukki the wrong side of Soares and his goal was never in doubt. 25 minutes to play but still every chance of a home win if Saints kept going as they were… only they didn’t. Replacing Djenepo, on a caution, by Romeu may have been prudent, and keeping Ings fit is essential so his substitution by Adams had some logic too, but things were now going downhill and the final change involving Yoshida for Long simply said “now here’s a back five for you to try and break down; let’s see if you can.” And Norwich very nearly did too, but some desperate clearances preserved the lead through four added minutes. I’m told that Long may have indicated an injury problem, but there were other options – anyway, all of a sudden home wins are coming along like those proverbial busses.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse, the dead ball expert. JWP gets a lot of stick these days but the formation gives him and Højbjerg a lot to do, and they just get on with it.