Saints V Celta Vigo The Verdict Thursday, 2nd Aug 2018 11:14
Saints came from two goals down at the break to win the game but what can we take from this performance ?
Saints dominated the game for most of the 90 minutes but found themselves a goal down with Celta Vigo's first real attack of the game, a wonder goal from distance into the top corner leaving Alex McCarthy no chance.
Saints really should have been a goal up before this after a perfect cross from Ryan Bertrand had left Sam McQueen with what looked like a simple clear header from close range which he somehow put over.
The goal for the visitors seemed a minor set back with firstly Manolo Gabbiadini having a long distance shot saved and then Shane Long seeing a curling shot hit the bar, but just before the break the visitors doubled their lead, from a corner Shane Long gave the ball away and Aspas ran at Saints defence and fired home at the near post with a shot that really should have been saved by the keeper.
Saints made four changes at the break, the visitors six and ten minutes after the restart, a sublime cross from Matt Target on at right back saw him use his right foot to find Charlie Austin to reduce the arrears with a header.
Four minutes later and Saints were level, Stuart Armstrong who had looked good surging forward from the midfield took the ball laid it wide right for Matt Targett who played a nice little through ball for Armstrong to run onto and sweep the ball past the keeper.
The last half an hour saw a raft of changes and the pace slacken, Saints remained in control but although they had a few chances didn't look like getting the winner till the final minute when James Ward Prowse ran forward and unleashed a shot from 30 yards which beat the keeper but hit the post, it fell to Mohamed Elyounoussi who marked his home debut with a goal sidefooting into the empty net from 10 yards out.
A deserved win for Saints but what did we learn ?
In fairness it was hard to gauge as the game was full of changes on both sides and not at full temo for large periods, Stuart Armstrong looked strong, but then again so did every other Saints player, we seemed comfortable against the opposition and not stretched, no one was truly tested.
One thing is that Matt Targett should not be sold, he was comfortable at right back and showed he could use the ball with both feet, he can offer us options on both sides and could be a good replacement on either side of the pitch.
But it was a good workout and Mark Hughes will be nearer knowing who is going to play a significant part, who is going to be a bit player and who is really surplus to requirements.
At the back keeping Targett will keep us well covered in all areas, in midfield we have options in all areas, when you look at the fact that Nathan Redmond Josh Sims and Mario Lemina weren't even on the bench it shows that we are strong in that area.
That being the case he will perhaps feel that we are still a striker short and that could be the final piece in the jigsaw before the season starts, having said that Elyounoussi can supposedly also play as a striker so that may be an option going forward.
All in all Saints are going in the right direction though and you feel that the discipline needed is now in the squad, it is better than this time last year, we have plugged the gaps at the back, this was still an experimental game for Mark Hughes, perhaps Saturday's game will be less so with tougher opposition and a few questions answered.
No sign of Lemina again- has he had a falling out with Sparky? Yes he was inconsistent last season but has the ability to be our best holding midfielder. Positives from the game, Gabby looked sharp, Armstrong impressive and agreeing with Nick, Targett looks a great option right or left.
Lemina is about to have a baby hence missing, so folk shouldnt panic.
Armstrong looked great and a steal for 7M! Shane Long looked good and came within inches of scoring. I thought Targett wouldnt fit in now, but i was clearly wrong. Only Davis looks like he should be moved on now...
1st 45 mins MH just played park the bus football every 3rd pass backwards celta vigo training excersize for them . bendy twice 2 yards away from attacking player result time to score & mcarthy should have done better, ff would have saved that.MH says he wants to see the team play with abit of sharpness well the 1st half was walking football & to play 2 leftbacks at right back just unbalenced the team & when we did attack there was only on player in the box against 5 of theres. if this is his system for the rest of the season we need a very expensive forward,gallager WILL not solve the problem he needs 2 touches in the box you wont get that time in EPL. the passing was dreadful lost the ball every second touch & the players very very lazy. fans play a lot of money in travelling to the ground & watch WE WANT TO BE ENTERTAIN NOT BORED STUPID. WELL DONE TO MH & THE TEAM in the 2nd halve we won NOTHING MORE TO SAY
Matty Targett showed a lot of promise at RWB last night - seems Sparky is playing around with his options as Cedric will be absent vs Burnley. I must say I thought Reed was our number 2 RWB, but Targett looks to be second choice on the left and on the right at the moment. If he continues to play like last night, he could viably challenge Cedric for 1st choice.
Armstrong again was impressive - looks comfortable on the ball, has a great work ethic and is unafraid to take a shot. Could this be the goalscoring CM we have been crying out for?
Vestergaard also looks the part. Please can we drop Hoedt though already? He makes me nervous every time he's on the ball. I will welcome Yoshi back to the starting lineup at this rate!
Think a striker is all we're missing at the moment. A pacey, powerful hitman in the mould of Moussa Marega is just what the doctor ordered. Get out the cheque book Saints.
Has anyone else noticed that the pitch is smaller this season - definitely narrower (not sur eif it's shorter) - the red area of astroturf and the new walkway around the outside hide it a bit, but the give-away is the size of the technical areas - must be something sparky has asked for to stop the back-three being pulled too far out of position ?
Accepting that it was only a friendly, I thought Celta Vigo gave us a pretty good run out, they looked good technically, their passing was quick and accurate.....but they weren’t any where near as physical as, say, Burnley and Everton will be.
On the positives, Gabbiadini and Austin looked good together (would love to think that Gabbiadini is going to get a proper run in the side this season). Hughes has got a load of tactical options in midfield with Armstrong and Hojberg in particular looking strong last night.
Vestergaard and Elyounoussi looked decent. Bednarek looks better whenever I see him play but is still definitely not the finished article. Hoedt is a real concern though. Just because we paid a lot of money for him doesn’t automatically make him a good player. Definitely still a place for Yoshida. Agree with Arthurfane on that one (and about Targett).
Matt Targett finally made the headlines with Saints (reportedly) refusing to sell him. After his impressive sojourn at Fulham, he really needs to be playing every week , but NOT at the expense of Ryan Bertrand. Bertie is team captain and still pe'ed from his omission from the England squad at the World Cup. Targett looked "right on the night " providing assists and could be the answer to those indifferent performances we have seen from Cedric. Time will tell - one week to kick-off.
Armstrong already looking like bargain of the season, and those people who said a player from SPL wouldn't be able to cut it in the Prem. need to go and hide in a corner. We have several different options in midfield, (and we may not have seen the last of Steven Davis).
But the front line is still a problem. Gabbi and Austin may have found their shooting boots, but Shane Long is still contriving to find even more ways of NOT scoring, despite finding himself in good positions. We do need another Pelle / Lambert who can hold the ball up and take chances when they come. If Moi can start scoring winning goals in the 96th minute he'll become legend before May
However. the good news is - it was a win. Had it been a Prem. game, we got one goal more than the opposition and that would have been the 3 points we failed so miserably to get on numerous occasions last season. Clean sheets aren't everything, but we do need to find new goalscorers.