Saturday 3rd of March saw a struggling Saints side play host to a similarly struggling Stoke City side, with both teams starting the game a point apart from each other and Stoke sitting 19th in the Premier League table.
A win was essential for both sides, and three points would have lifted Stoke out of the bottom three, whilst three points for Southampton would edge them that little bit closer to safety.
Paul Lambert’s side have the worst defence in the league this season, with the goalkeeper picking the ball out of the net 54 times so far. To make matters worse on three separate occasions its been five times in a single match.
Southampton’s goal scoring prowess is somewhat laughable at this precise moment in time. New signing Carillo yet to score in the Premier League, supposed superstar Manolo Gabiandinni scoring one goal in his last 17 appearances and it feels as if Shane Long scored THAT goal for Ireland against Germany and has just forgotten how to play football since, Stoke may not feel too worried. The outcome of the game was anyone’s guess.
Both teams being booed off at half truly reflected an absolutely woeful performance from both sides, with little or no chances created and no goals. The fans at Saint Mary’s must be reminiscing the good times, with fluid, exciting football being played under exciting managers and players. Now, a manager with little emotion, is being directly reflected on the pitch as the players look as if they do not want to be there. The only glimpse of excitement was Mario Lemina’s quick feet, and with (unsurprisingly) Liverpool’s interest picking up with Emre Can’s transfer to Juventus at the end of the season, this excitement may not be long lived.
The team talks in the dressing room must have rallied the troops on either side as chances were finally being created. Xherdan Shaquiri and Diouf found themselves in a two v two situation, but lack of communication and a poor pass meant that nothing came of it, which had epitomised the game so far.
The last ten minutes produced moments of attacking panic from the Saints with Jack Butland making good saves from Nathan Redmond’s curling effort and stopping a low cross from reaching Carillo. Undoubtedly the best chance of the game fell to substitute Sofiane Boufal. Yet to touch the ball, the winger made a darting run in to the box latching on to Redmond’s cross. However, the Moroccan was unable to place the header on target, even with no pressure from the stoke defence.
With four league home wins in 13 months and 8 matches in a row without a win, Saints are struggling. Pellegrino is going to have to pull his finger out as the last nine games of the season, six are away and include Manchester City at home on the last day of the season.
Paul Lambert is in the same position, with both team precariously hovering around the relegation zone, its hard to see a way out the the two teams in red and white stripes.
Written by Niall Henry.