Swansea Away Saints are Safe
It seems a long time ago when Saints conceded that very preventable goal at Norwich on January 2nd, and indeed the days have now grown a lot longer, but we haven’t let in a league goal since early in 2016. That suggests a settled side, but the Koeman brothers are always prone to tinker, including a total of four changes at Swansea to accommodate returns for Davis and Targett and leaving Soares, Yoshida, Tadić, Mané and Austin on a notably talented bench – no sign of Wanyama of course, but that’s going to be the case for some time. Match stats show the Swans managing two shots on target in the entire game, but it’s hard to recall when they came and certainly Match of the Day’s highlights failed to find any. Just before the break a Davis cross found Long unmarked but although his header was between the sticks, Fabianski was untroubled by a poor effort. Fonte beat the keeper to a second half corner and he was helpless as Pellè stabbed the ball into an unguarded net… not quite helpless, as it happened, as referee Moss came to his aid by awarding a free kick, possibly for hands by Fonte, but the reason is still uncertain. Saints then turned to their substitutes in a bid to break the deadlock, but a full back didn’t seem to be the best way to do it. Those Koemans know their football, though, and Soares was soon in action, setting up Ward-Prowse for an inviting cross that this time Long managed to get past Fabianski’s desperate grasps for the only goal. Swansea began to concentrate their efforts on their right flank and Targett, who may not be fully fit, made way for Yoshida. As well as he played against West Ham, there is a view that Yoshie can present the biggest threat to Forster’s run of clean sheets these days, and home fans thought he might have conceded a late penalty which would have been very harsh anyway. Overall, though, Saints were repelling most attacks; you felt that they may have been able to break with more effect had Mané been present, but as it was the team managed to run down most of added time by keeping possession in the corner – and so reach the safety target of 40 points much earlier than had been expected in the darkest hours of the winter. LSSC Man of the Match: Virgil Van Dijk, for the second game running.
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