Manchester United Home Lost 0 – 1
A near unanimous consensus was that Manchester United‘s first points of the season coming before they met up with Southampton was a good thing, and despite Erik ten Hag saying that their victory over Liverpool was a turning point, our view still holds true: we weren’t up against the same United side thrashed by Brentford – Harry Maguire was stuck on the bench, after all. Those PL stats show our opponents just shading possession, shots on target and successful passes, and behind on actual shots, all this after they recorded a mere 29% possession against Liverpool. None of that is why they ship so many replica shirts, and the ten Hag era has all the makings of an affair that will end in tears – something that would have been widely predicted had Saints taken the points in this game, and a couple of second half moments of brilliance is what prevented that happening. True, the scores only remained level less than a quarter into the game when a Bazunu double save and desperate blocking by Bella-Kotchap and Walker-Peters kept the Southampton goal intact. Nothing near as clear cut for Saints down the other end, but there were chances, and this always looked like one that could go either way. In the end it went in the wrong direction after Fernandes met Dalot’s cross with a controlled sidefoot volley that still sent the ball powerfully into the bottom corner. An equaliser wouldn’t have been undeserved and it nearly came, firstly from an Aribo header brilliantly saved by De Gea, and then a follow up header by Walker-Peters that went over but could, and maybe should, have dropped into an unguarded net. Right at the end substitute Mara tried to out-do Fernandes with a volley that was close, but not close enough, and that was that… almost. TV later showed that Adams’ claim for a handball penalty against McTominey had plenty going for it – he didn’t handle it once, or even twice, but three times in all, and the more you look at it, the more he moves his arm towards the ball. You can imagine what went through official Peter Bankes’ mind at VAR HQ: “what would Mike Dean do?, ah yes, give it against Southampton.”
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
10. Ché Adams. The people’s choice in the last two matches, but will he get the same support without a goal to his name, despite leading the attack well?
37. Armel Bella-Kotchap. All the signs are that we did well to secure his services.
45. Roméo Lavia. The same as Bella-Kotchap – another fine acquisition, and he gives us more attacking options as he fills the role previously played by Romeu and Ward-Prowse between them.