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Your Report added at 10:26:04
In my view, the way to analyse this game is to first consider the situation if we hadn't been given a penalty award in the last moments of the game.

Had that been the scenario then I suspect that the conclusion would have been exactly as SaintBrock and Ace have set out, namely that far too much side passing and allowing the other side to reorganise their defence whilst we tried this way and that to get through the wall had cost us the game. This was never going to work against a big, physical and pretty dirty team like W Ham especially with their ever present threat on the counter with Antonio. There is no point in playing pretty football (and there is no doubt, some of it was easy on the eye) if you don't open up the other side's defence.

Even so, there were still a few glimmers of light towards the latter part of the second half especially after Long came on, with some racy attacks down the flanks and a more direct style, but it took the efforts of Yoshida (who I noticed went up front several times in the last 10 minutes to try to boost the attack) to get us over the line. A bit of a soft penalty but that is hardly the point, he and JWP combined to make the sort of direct attack that should have unlocked this game (against 10 men) a lot sooner.
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Your Report added at 13:45:01
A false dichotomy is when you are asked to choose between two unacceptable alternatives: For example it is sometimes said that "T'is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees". In football terms we often hear that "Its better to draw a game playing boringly than to lose playing excitingly". Both however represent the position of mediocrity and lack of ambition and in the end, both will kill you. The true test is that is better to live on your feet than to die on your knees, and better to win playing exciting football than to lose playing safe. The route to living rather than death and the route to winning not losing is being prepared to aim for success (even at the risk of failure). Ambition never killed anybody.

So, I took quite a few positives from this match (and not just because I suffered the borefest that was the Hull game and therefore start from a very low base). The team played well overall and there was a clear statement of intent to try to win. We had more shots in the first half than for several of our last games, and drew a fine save Cech. It was a very open game and with rather better finishing we should have scored two or three times. We were playing against a very serious and well-organised opponent and they scored one excellent and one world-class goal against us. True it is that we rather ran out of puff towards the end of the second half, and that there were some uncharacteristic mistakes from the likes of Romeu but the overall set-up and performance was quite good.

For me, the jury is indeed still out on Puel but if he hopes to win over the fans, performances like this rather than the negativity of the play against Hull and Chelsea is a start.
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Your Report added at 09:41:55
At the end of that game, I found myself asking why, since we won, deserved to win and didn't concede any goals, it still felt more like the relief from getting out of the dentist's chair unscathed than a grand day out? Overall, this was an assured team performance, with outstanding contributions from Davis, Romeu and VVD in particular but the weaknesses were there for all to see. Fonte (bless him) is still in danger of giving away a foul or a penalty each time a striker gets near him and he really isn't quick any longer, though his positional play is still excellent. Redmond reminds me of Fabrice Fernandes (younger readers will have to ask their dads) who drove us all crazy with his twisting and turning and then disappointing style of football, poor old Shane Long can't buy a goal at present and Austin (as others have noted) is prone to injury though there is no mistaking his potency.

Nevertheless, the green shoots are there. One goal will make all the difference to Long's confident and Redmond is young enough to learn and can be drilled out of his bad habits. Fonte will gradually bow out with our grateful thanks. Puel will adapt from his silly diamond formation.

We will meet better teams than Swansea for sure, but they were a lot more testing than Sparta Prague and carried a serious goal threat for much of the game. Would I prefer to see a painful one nil win or a glorious defeat? Well the answer to that is obvious!
Your
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Your Report added at 10:55:56
Halftimeorange makes a very fair point about the City team not having played together much and that we should not get too carried away (which I very much agree with) but as ever in these situations, I looked to see what the other fellers think about it - have a look at the blog section on the Manchester Evening News match report.

The following is one of the more polite contributions:

"No excuses! This team had 11 international players on display,the fans deserve a full refund for match tickets and travelling expenses!wheƱ you do leave Manuel please take Bony and Sterling with you.you had the opportunity to cement our C.L.position today and you blew it! You should have walked as soon as the ' guadiola' story broke! You cannot motivate a team of overpaid underperforming Priima Donna's.sterling and bony are two of the worst players I've ever seen in a city shirt for the last 50 years of following them! An utter disgrace!!!"
Your
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Your Report added at 21:24:31
Mane may have deservedly picked up the match ball but I agree with others who say that my man of the match was Shane Long. Not content with harrying the opposition as we were going forward, he was as prepared as ever to sprint back to help out in defence and to recycle the ball when our attacks were repelled. I'm really glad he got at least one goal. His fault, if he has one, is that he can be wayward in front of goal but I think that he sometimes just exhausts himself getting there in the first place and is unable to focus at the critical moment. Special mention too for Tadic, and for VVD and Fonte who were immense in defence. The beauty of this game however was the satisfaction of watching a really good team performance. Each of the goals we scored involved at least three or four players in the build up and each attach from City beaten off demanded concentration from everyone in defence and midfield.

The pundits on MOTD and elsewhere will no doubt attribute the result to an "enfeebled" City side but just look at the talent they had on the field! International players for the most part whose contracts change hands for what can only be described as telephone number amounts of money, yet they backed off every time Saints advanced and for large periods of the game they had every man behind the ball.

As I posted earlier, this was the game we had to win, given Liverpool's error earlier in the day and I am delighted that the men didn't let me down. Happy Monday tomorrow!
Your
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Your Report added at 18:00:17
The sad truth is that we were beaten by a better team. I don't disagree with others who have complained about cheating and diving by Chelsea, and yes, the ball did indeed go out of play before the goal and we should have had a penalty (and its also true that Pelle wasn't up to speed), but we were still collectively second best for long periods especially in the second half (actually for almost all of it). The problem is not new. When pressed by a strong attacking team we are forced further and further back, and such counter-attacks as we do have are easily repelled. The defence never got a break because there was relentless pressure on them which the midfield could not relieve. I don't think that Saints actually played particularly badly in the second half, its just that they were unable to hold the ball in midfield. Something to work on.

Still, not ashamed to lose to a very good Chelsea team, and we march on with two very winnable matches next week.
Your
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Your Report added at 08:22:24
IF THE ARSENAL match was a game of one goalkeeper, this was a game of two outfielders, Yoshida and Wanyama. Now I'm not one of those contributors who are always on Yoshida's back, indeed I am usually supportive of him, but yesterday he would have been my MOM even if he hadn't scored. This was an assured, solid performance, unhurried by the incoming attackers and at times insouciant, (though even I could hardly watch when he did a reverse-ferret in his own penalty area with the Wham attack right beside him)! As for the goal, well it wasn't pretty but it had the element of surprise which was enough, and lets face it, John Terry has scored many a similar goal and been praised for it. Now to Wanyama. Up to the sending off he had a pretty decent game, but he is basically hot-tempered and clumsy and therefore always a risk to the rest of the team. It was always a matter of time before he went into the referee's book and from where I was sitting I wasn't surprised that it was red. However, like others on this site I have since watched it again on MOTD and now I'm not so sure. It was certainly clumsy but it wasn't aggressive and Payet made more of it than was necessary - did anyone else see the big grin on his face after the sending off? Very unattractive. So whilst I am critical of Wanyama for putting us all through nearly 45 minutes of buttock-clenching discomfort for the remainder of the match, perhaps he wasn't entirely to blame.
Your
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Your Report added at 12:55:28
Someone had to say it, and the Observer report doesn't disappoint - "Austin Powers in to raise stakes for Van Gaal".

What fine reading that makes. I agree with other posters that this wasn't a classic game but who cares? Would we rather be Norwich, losing by one goal in an exciting match? I think not.

Don't get carried away though - still a long way to go - but its moments like this that make the painful times worth suffering.
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Your Report added at 12:59:09
One swallow doth not a summer make and certainly not a wet and cold January evening, but its one hell of a lot better than the alternative! In fact, I don't think that the team was doing very much different to usual, just 10% better and with a lot more energy. The high pressing game that suits in particular Long, Mane and Tadic worked well and Davis was immense in midfield. Silly mistakes were avoided at the back and but for a bit of ill-fortune and some first class goal-keeping from Gomes, we could have had a hatful. I went to this game with fairly low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by how just small changes can affect the outcome. The frustration is that so many previous games could have ended like this had just a little more skill and application been brought to bear. My hopes for the weekend are up a bit but not by much I regret to say. Two or three further performances like this however and they will be up to volume 11!
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Your Report added at 14:09:57
As my old friend Mr Rumpole of the Bailey was fond of saying, "He who keeps his head when all around are losing theirs'..........may have seriously under-estimated the gravity of the situation." This is beginning to look like a relegation dog-fight. As one of the more positive contributors to this site I think it's time for a serious moan about some of our overpaid players. Mane and Wanyama should be told in words of half a syllable that they are employees, no more and no less. They will be held to their contracts and made to serve them out until the very last second. I know that this will mean that the Board won't be able to cash in on valuable commodities but it is necessary to think long-term and to send a very clear message to any other prima donnas in the team: This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. As to the rest of them I hope that they were told to attend for extra practice at 7am this morning. We, the paying supporters, are not amused.
Your
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Your Report added at 09:34:20
STANDING BACK for a moment from our natural disappointment at this match I think we should get some perspective. This wasn't actually a terrible performance from the team. For the first 40 minutes we were actually doing OK and came pretty close to scoring a couple of times. But then came our statutory five minutes of madness and that was all Spurs needed. Two breakaway goals from strikers who are not afraid to have a go at goal and its game over! The second half was more of the same really - Saints doing pretty well for most of the period and Spurs frankly not looking like scoring again (save for an entertaining piece of stir-crazy goalkeeper antics from young Gazza in the last minute) but apart from the JWP effort, neither did we. The problem (and I'm sorry to bang on about this once again) is that we spend too much time running around in circles in midfield rather than head quickly up the other end and shoot on target. It feels like taking a load of puppies for a walk along the beach - any direction apart from the one you want to go in. No-one wants to see the ball being hoiked up to Pele every time as that method means that it only comes back to us too soon, but we do want to see players running to the byline and putting in decent crosses, or driving down the middle with purpose. In a tight league we really are in danger of being sucked in to a relegation battle as others on this site have rightly said. The omens for Boxing Day aren't good. Come on Ron, surprise me!
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Your Report added at 09:25:48
OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH! How often have I posted on this site that Yoshida is a much under-rated player! Even if you were to overlook the goal (of which more later) he had a standout game, strong in defence, pushing forward into the midfield and avoiding the trap of "fouling" the diving champion Jack Grealish when invited to do so. As to the goal, yes he really can strike home with his left foot from outside the box, and that followed some crisp interplay in the lead up. In an otherwise fairly dull game he was the standout player for me, so no more carping at his expense. And gentlemen, its not funny to sing "How shit must you be, Yoshida just scored" (it is really but we are going to pretend otherwise).
Your
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Your Report added at 09:49:13
In coming to any sensible conclusions about what went wrong in this game you have to start of by appreciating and accepting that the opposition was really very good indeed. I groan as much as the next man when a Saints player gets it wrong or gives away a loose pass (and heaven knows that happened often enough in the second half) but most of these failures were not unforced errors. There is a good reason why Leicester are flying high in the league and their current form didn't happen by accident. Second, you have to accept that there were injuries and weaknesses in the squad. VW appeared to be carrying a hamstring injury for most of the match, Clasie is not up to match speed and Kelvin Davis - a great man and a loyal Saint - is past his best. Having said that however, I felt that the team lost its collective nerve after the first Leicester goal and started being dragged further and further back into defence, so that we were never able to clear our lines and put pressure on the other end of the field. The midfield almost ceased to exist, Pelle and Mane were no longer putting pressure on the opposition defence and the ball kept coming back to us too quickly. The team lost its shape. A vital lesson needs to be learned here, and learned quickly because there are better teams still to come!
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Your Report added at 21:02:30
A STRANGE SORT OF GAME really. RK was clearly correct in describing this as an unsatisfactory performance despite the outcome. The fans around me were moaning about Mane and Tadic until they each scored, and how Wanyama remained on the pitch for 90 minutes I will never know, but the fact is that they did and he did and in the end its all about results. Some hopeful signs: Van Dyke was excellent and would have had my vote for man of the match even if he hadn't scored: Pelle was immense once again and Ryan Betrand is nearly back to his best. Even though Mane was a bit off the pace I love his attitude: He has a great relationship with the crowd, cheerleading each time he gets the chance and obviously loving playing for the Saints. Davis was solid in midfield, a much under-rated player in my opinion, and the goalkeeper had a confident game even if he gave us a few heart-stopping moments. Overall I am quietly confident for the season, but the long-term key is keeping the manager in place. I have to warn that I was with some Dutch guys in France last week and all they could talk about is when he comes home to manage their national side......
Your
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Your Report added at 17:47:44
AT THE RISK of saying "Told you so........."

Several lessons were learned today, though a few remain outstanding.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't pass backwards unless you really have to - press the opposition higher up the pitch, as JWP did to good effect leading to the first goal with his slick pass through to Mane and allowing Pelle to turn the ball in on goal
2. Don't give up on any apparently lost ball (see above)
3. Use the full width of the pitch - Mane on the right and Tadic on the left were a potent combination
4. Get the ball to the byline before crossing (see above)
5. Most games are won and lost in the midfield - make sure you pass accurately between yourself
6. Don't lump the ball up to Pelle and hope for the best - play on the ground

Lessons still to be learned:

1. Don't panic in defence, take you time and be measured about it. An unnecessary corner was sacrificed this way
2. Don't encourage the ref to show the card to your opponents and don't celebrate when he does, Yes you Tadic, its not seemly
3. Enjoy your success but don't get carried away with it (see above

And finally a lesson to be learned by all the players - you are highly paid employees but that is all you are. In the end you do as you are told. So Mr Wanyama if you aren't "mentally in the right place" to place for Saint first team then you can damn well play for the reserves until you are. Clear?
Your
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Your Report added at 09:43:23
Well it was horrible and I want that 90 minutes of my life back again - no midfield, no urgency, no cohesion and no ideas.

But...

We've been here before and in recent memory. On a horrible wet night in Sheffield last year I watched what I thought was the worst performance I have ever seen from a Saints team, under the same manager and with many of the same players. Indeed a few better players took the trip north than were on the field in Denmark last night. How quickly things can change, although change they certainly must. Its not yet time for panic and meltdown.

Nothing worthwhile in this life is learned from success alone, but hell, do we need to learn from our mistakes!
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Your Report added at 12:57:45
Being old enough to remember the last time we played in Europe (Stau Bucharest) with all the disappointment that brought I can't tell you how much that game meant to me, and I'm sure to many other supporters. Sure, there were some things that could have been done better but overall, this was a fine performance from a thoroughly entertaining team. What we like to see is flowing, attacking football and that we saw in abundance. Difficult to pick a man of the match but as others have said, Mane and Wanyama are probably the stand-out men. Looking forward to see J Rod play on Sunday.
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Your Report added at 10:00:23
I have a theory that Saints' performance in any given match is inversely proportional to the position of their game in the MOTD running order. For those of you who couldn't be bothered to wait up, we were next to last. Sure, the result was disappointing but the game was an excellent display and the goals against us represented no more than the fine margins by which these things are decided. You could citicise Yoshida for being overtaken for pace just before the second goal but that apart he had an excellent game and I would certainly play him again next week. Mane must learn to stay on his feet, but his commitment was a joy to behold, and Pelle has come good in the end as we all thought he must. I think the only managerial decision I would question was not bringing Shane Long on 10 minutes earlier - we needed the bionic ferret to make a nuisance of himself as he always does, and it paid off.

Finally, it was a pleasure to observe how most of the fans simply ignored Pocchettino, it being a waste of breath to jeer him. Where the national newspapers got the idea that he was given a hard time I can't imagine - presumably their reporters hadn't bothered to turn up and simply wrote their stories beforehand.
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Your Report added at 19:08:57
A CLASSIC IT WAS NOT nor even a particularly good game, indeed it would not be unfair to describe the first half as frankly boring, but it came to life after the penalty and it never really felt that we were going to lose thereafter. A section of the crowd around me were just starting to sing "If Pelle scores we're on the pitch" when he did just that, and it felt like a moment of liberation. It is unfair to criticise Pelle for the goal drought since Christmas because he has been trying his best, but football, like all sport, is 90% about confidence and he just hasn't had it of late. The breakthrough achieved, he started to play like a man re-born and you could almost feel and taste the sense of optimism flowing back into the team. With the final whistle blown, the mood on the terraces was of a corner turned, and when the stadium announcer finally told us that Spurs had lost at home, relief turned to joy. It is probably too early to start packing my sombrero but I am certainly thinking of getting it down from the loft.........
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Your Report added at 20:11:25
Oops techno problem - as I was saying that probably makes Pelle feel even worse about himself, but even without scoring he is just so valuable to have on the pitch, because he forces errors and allows other team-mates to get into a good scoring position. Pelle's confidence - or loss of it - is becoming an issue though. You can almost feel his desire to impress but until he does, he won't get back into winning ways. You just feel that with another tiny bit of effort he is going to get there, but the problem is in his head, not in his feet. So long as he hangs on just a bit longer it will all come right for him.
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