Manchester United Home Drew 0 – 0
Since joining Manchester United, more than ever has Jose become Moaning Mourinho. He started the build up to this rearranged fixture by ranting about its scheduling and his mood would not have improved when referee Dean awarded Saints an early penalty for a handball by Bailly which didn’t really look to be in the area. This was another much changed Southampton team, so another spot kick ‘expert’ was enlisted in Gabbiadini, but with the same result as stand-in keeper Romero made a fine save: Saints have now gone right, middle and now left in the last three penalties but always failing to find the net; furthermore, the notorious Northam end spot has not conceded a goal in the last four attempts – five if you include a U23 game, although Sholing FC showed how it should be done (just!) in the Southampton Senior Cup Final! Saints dominated the opening minutes but began to find it increasingly hard to gain decent possession against a club who had an agenda of their own when it came to selection policy. Our last opponents at home, Arsenal, came on strong in the second half but this time was very different and United were as indebted to Romero’s performance in this period as they had been for his penalty save. Rodriguez replaced Gabbiadini and Boufal came on for Ward-Prowse with clear orders to run at opponents but Saints went on to record a third successive blank at St. Mary’s, and their return there against the top six is: P 6, W 0, D 2, L 4, F 1, A 11 (plus a 0-5 in the Cup!). Perhaps we should be grateful for those two draws, which were, of course, goal-less, but this was a game that could and should have been won. It could have been lost as well but Mata failed to convert when set up by Rooney while Martial sent a shot against the post. Maybe the longer term importance of this end of season encounter lies in a return to first team action for Matt Targett, with Bertrand omitted from the squad; it had also seemed an ideal opportunity for Charlie Austin in the second half, after his brief appearance at Middlesbrough – but what do we know?
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse, denied a goal by a Romero save, an unlucky deflection of a defender’s heel and his surprise substitution.
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