Watford Away Won 0 – 1
Ward-Prowse and Elyounoussi returned to the side at Watford but Broja remained absent due to the injury he received against Burnley (so he would have been unavailable at Chelsea anyway, notwithstanding contractual reasons) and Walker-Peters filled in at left back, as he does when the opposition have pacy attackers. That opposition had conceded five, then scored five in their last two outings, suggesting an interesting approach at the business ends of the pitch – as demonstrated in the opening minute when a Redmond cross was nearly turned past his own keeper by Cathcart, but this was to be one of just two Southampton shots on target. Happily the other one went in; Adams was allowed time to pirouette and curl a Tissier-esque chip into the top corner in the 20th minute. Watford recorded four efforts on target, which these days is highly respectable, but simple stats can be misleading as only two were worthy of note (read on!) while the eleven Southampton shots off target include several that should really have gone in. Adam Armstrong needs a goal to go with his nuisance value and he had several opportunities to notch one, starting with a header with the score at 0-0. Adams at least got the ball in the net, but his own missed header was of the ‘how did that not go in’ variety after an assist by Armstrong (A), this coming a couple of minutes after Watford had almost equalised against the run of play: Sarr at the far post saw McCarthy touch his effort against the post an then Walker-Peters kept his head to execute a tricky clearance of the loose ball off the line. That incident apart, it was difficult to see a Watford goal as their ‘get the ball forward’ ploy mostly foundered on the rock of Salisu. They only needed it to come off once, though, as Saints couldn’t add to their lead and in the last couple of minutes, Bednarek let Fletcher get a shot away that McCarthy did very well to push past the post. Lyanco promptly came on for Romeu to stop this happening again, and indeed it didn’t, despite three minutes added time expanding to something more like five. As you look even more stupid doing it in an empty stadium, the result meant Ralph and his team were able to execute their away (league) win celebration routine for the first time since January 2020.
LSSC Man of the Match: Mohammed Salisu, although it could easily have been Walker-Peters or Redmond.