Everton Away Lost 3 – 1
Livramento, Perraud and Adam Armstrong all made their debuts at Everton, and for the first time in nearly 18 months, visiting fans were present to see the action. The Southampton bench was far, far stronger than the youthful look it had by the end of 2020/21, but Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek and Stuart Armstrong would all be in my starting line-up, so, unless injuries were involved, maybe the exit door hasn’t been locked shut yet? Saints struggled to get into the game, but they took a 22nd minute lead when Keane was caught in possession thanks to the industrious Adams and Adam Armstrong went on to mark his return to the Premier League with a goal that he certainly should have scored, but he did so with some style as well. That led to much more Southampton possession and Ward-Prowse had opportunities to demonstrate his corner-taking skills, but without Vestergaard to aim for, we are now less potent in this department. It was nice of the PL to choose our least favourite ground for a return to travel duties for the first time since the last February 29th, but there was some optimism at the break that the Goodison hoodoo might be behind us… no such luck as Richarlison de Andrade netted following a half-cleared corner with just two minutes played in the second period; my first instinct was that McCarthy should have attacked the ball, and although TV replays also show Salisu as hugely culpable, the goalkeeping still looks wrong, somehow. It’s the hope that kills, of course, and the current era Saints have an unenviable record of points lost from winning positions, but we were by no means out of this one and still posed a threat, although Walcott, Adams and Armstrong were beginning to tire. Ralph was planning changes for the last 15 minutes when Everton struck again: a fine shot by Doucouré into the top corner that McCarthy was never going to stop… but would better keepers have done better at the near post? Within five minutes, the contest was over, once Calvert-Lewin stooped to head in Richarlison’s low cross from close range, with more questions asked about Southampton’s central defending. Oh how we’ve missed those miserable long journeys home, especially from the blue half of Merseyside. The last fans away day in 2020 had ended with a similar scoreline, that time nearer home, at West Ham.
Man of the Match: Clearly Oriol Romeu, although he became the first of three late substitutions. For some reason, Oriol was sporting a black headband – it can’t have been to keep his hair out of his eyes. Livramento had been confident on the ball, but I have doubts about his defensive strengths; Perraud didn’t look out of place at this level; Armstrong’s goal was our champagne moment.