Norwich Home Won 2 – 0 , 10 Games Unbeaten at St Mary’s
Not too surprisingly, Saints were unchanged for a visit from Norwich, despite Perraud being available again. For Livramento to be preferred against a team expected to park the bus is understandable, but having full backs who were playing on their preferred flank would have been a credible option as well. Once again, Ralph knows best, and Livramento’s run and cross was instrumental in breaking the Canaries’ resistance after 36 minutes; Adams specialises in making the difficult look easy and the easy look difficult, as epitomised by his two-stroke finish here – he ought to have scored first time, but it was a fine effort to convert at the second attempt. Throughout the game really, Saints were guilty of shooting too close to Angus Gunn, presumably on the basis that anything coming his way usually found the net on his last St. Mary’s appearance (0-9, remember?), then on the stroke of half time, Elyounoussi committed the opposite error in pulling a good chance wide – he had earlier been foiled by Gunn’s right leg, again shooting too straight. It was rather one-way stuff that continued well into the second half, with Gunn beating shots away, but still only 1-0. Saints had denied their last opponents any shots on target at all and here the stats gave Norwich just one, in fact back at 0-0. I had assumed it must have been in their nine minute spell of pressure between a double substitution on 72 minutes and Ralph’s response, which was to bring on Stephens for Broja – another questionable decision by the coach, but he’s in a spell where everything comes off. He also got a rare goal from Romeu to finally, and belatedly, put the game to bed late in the day – a memorable goal too, a well struck volley from the edge of the box as Norwich defended a corner too deeply. It leaves them in a desperate position at the foot of the table, just as they were when beating Saints back in November. Things were looking at least bleak-ish for us as well back then – before Ralph Hassenhūttl picked up that four-leaf clover, or maybe he’s only discovered the Midas touch after deciding to announce his premature 2024 retirement.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriel Romeu. The goal helped, of course, but at the moment Romeu is doing everything we could ask of him, and more.